Energy


UK-based energy tech startup wants to stop climate change with AI & blockchain

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Verv, the Google-mentored energy tech startup behind the smart energy hub and green electricity sharing platform, recently announced that it has raised over £6.5 million (€7.5 million) in its Series A round led by environmental fund Earthworm. Earthworm has invested £5 million in Verv's pioneering IoT and renewable energy trading technology that could drive down household electricity bills and carbon emissions by over 20%. Other investors in the round include European innovation engine for sustainable energy, InnoEnergy, Crowdcube and international energy and services company, Centrica. Earthworm's investment is an important backing of Verv's vision to make millions of homes more green with a global network of smart hubs that offer a real-time breakdown of key appliance use and spend, as well as enable the trading of domestic renewable energy between communities. At Earthworm we are driven by sustainability and Verv represents a brilliant example of'enabling' technology.


Facial recognition is big tech's latest toxic 'gateway' app John Naughton

The Guardian

The headline above an essay in a magazine published by the Association of Computing Machinery (ACM) caught my eye. "Facial recognition is the plutonium of AI", it said. Since plutonium – a by-product of uranium-based nuclear power generation – is one of the most toxic materials known to humankind, this seemed like an alarmist metaphor, so I settled down to read. The article, by a Microsoft researcher, Luke Stark, argues that facial-recognition technology – one of the current obsessions of the tech industry – is potentially so toxic for the health of human society that it should be treated like plutonium and restricted accordingly. You could spend a lot of time in Silicon Valley before you heard sentiments like these about a technology that enables computers to recognise faces in a photograph or from a camera.


Total Plans to Use Artificial Intelligence to Cut Drilling Costs

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Total SA plans to start a digital factory in the coming weeks to tap artificial intelligence in a bid to save hundreds of millions of dollars on exploration and production projects, according to an executive. The use of artificial intelligence to screen geological data will help identify new prospects, and shorten the time to acquire licenses, drill and make discoveries, Arnaud Breuillac, head of E&P, said at a conference organized by IFP Energies Nouvelles in Paris on Friday. It will also help optimize the use of equipment and reduce maintenance costs, he said. The digital factory will employ between 200 and 300 engineers and build on successful North Sea pilot projects, Chief Executive Officer Patrick Pouyanne said at the same event. It will also be a way to attract "young talent" to the industry.


Slow burn? The long road to a zero-emissions UK

Guardian Energy

It is the near future. You wake in a house warmed by a heat pump that extracts energy from deep below the ground and delivers it to your home. You rise and make yourself a cup of tea – from water boiled on a hydrogen-burning kitchen stove. Then you head to work – in a robot-driven electric car directed by central control network to avoid traffic jams. At midday, you pause for lunch: a sandwich made of meat grown in a laboratory.


The best smart doorbell camera

Engadget

This post was done in partnership with Wirecutter. When readers choose to buy Wirecutter's independently chosen editorial picks, Wirecutter and Engadget may earn affiliate commission. If you want to see who's on the other side of your door without having to get up and look yourself, then the Ring Video Doorbell 2 is the best choice for most everyone. It lets you screen (and record) visitors and keep an eye out for package deliveries. Motion and ring alerts to a smartphone are typically fast, audio and 1080p video are clear, and the Ring 2 can be powered by either standard doorbell wiring or a removable rechargeable battery. The Ring Video Doorbell 2 performs like a cross between a modestly aggressive guard dog and a trusty digital butler. In addition to notifying you--audibly and via smartphone--of activity, it records all motion events to the cloud, letting you view those recordings (as well as live video) on your phone or computer any time. It's also compatible with a good number of smart-home devices, platforms, and monitored security systems. Though video recording and storage require a subscription, the $30 annual fee (a mere 8¢ per day) for 60 days of unlimited video storage is downright cheap compared with the competition. We like the Ring Video Doorbell Pro for all the reasons we like the Ring 2. Additionally, it has a much slimmer and sleeker design that will fit in more doorframes and includes the option for customized motion-detection zones.


Rivian turned down GM investment so it could build EVs for others

Engadget

Reports emerged last week that GM would not join Amazon in investing in electric vehicle startup Rivian, and now we have a little more clarity on why talks broke down. It seems GM wanted some exclusivity, but Rivian plans to build vehicles for other companies, as well as release up to six models under its own branding by 2025. Founder RJ Scaringe said Rivian is working on something related to the Amazon investment, but hinted to Bloomberg that it may not be a vehicle. He's open to selling his company's technology (it has developed long-lasting batteries) to other businesses for various products, including stationary batteries. So perhaps Amazon is interested in using Rivian's know-how for something other than vehicles, though it has also invested in a self-driving car startup.


Technology Is A Huge Driver Of The U.S. Oil And Gas Boom

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A natural gas fired turbine, manufactured by Caterpillar Inc. subsidiary Solar Turbines Inc., runs a compressor at a Williston Basin Interstate Pipeline Co., a subsidiary of MDU Resources Group Inc., natural gas compression station in Bismarck, North Dakota. In the world of oil and natural gas, engineers, geologists, and drilling and production departments tend to get the lion's share of the credit when good things happen, and most of the blame when they don't. That's fair, given the crucial roles these groups of employees play within the thousands of companies that make up the U.S. oil and gas industry. But in recent years, as overall domestic production has risen at a pace no one could have foreseen even five years ago, the credit has begun to shift. These human resources remain indispensable to the success of any company, but the deployment of a raft of advancing technologies has played an ever-advancing role over time in enabling companies to maximize recoveries and profits.


AI and Robotics Are Transforming Disaster Relief

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During the past 50 years, the frequency of recorded natural disasters has surged nearly five-fold. In this blog, I'll be exploring how converging exponential technologies (AI, robotics, drones, sensors, networks) are transforming the future of disaster relief--how we can prevent them in the first place and get help to victims during that first golden hour wherein immediate relief can save lives. When it comes to immediate and high-precision emergency response, data is gold. Already, the meteoric rise of space-based networks, stratosphere-hovering balloons, and 5G telecommunications infrastructure is in the process of connecting every last individual on the planet. Aside from democratizing the world's information, however, this upsurge in connectivity will soon grant anyone the ability to broadcast detailed geo-tagged data, particularly those most vulnerable to natural disasters.


Removal of fuel at Fukushima's melted nuclear reactor begins

Los Angeles Times

The operator of the tsunami-wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant began removing fuel Monday from a cooling pool at one of three reactors that melted down in the 2011 disaster, a milestone in what will be a decades-long process to decommission the facility. Tokyo Electric Power Co. said workers started removing the first of 566 used and unused fuel units stored in the pool at Unit 3. The fuel units in the pool located high up in reactor buildings are intact despite the disaster, but the pools are not enclosed, so removing the units to safer ground is crucial to avoid disaster in case of another major earthquake similar to the one that caused the 2011 tsunami. TEPCO says the removal at Unit 3 will take two years, followed by the two other reactors, where about 1,000 fuel units remain in the storage pools. Removing fuel units from the cooling pools comes ahead of the real challenge of removing melted fuel from inside the reactors, but details of how that might be done are still largely unknown. Removing the fuel in the cooling pools was delayed more than four years by mishaps, high radiation and radioactive debris from an explosion that occurred at the time of the reactor meltdowns, underscoring the difficulties that remain.


Removal of fuel at Fukushima's melted reactor begins

Al Jazeera

The operator of the tsunami-wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant has begun removing fuel from a cooling pool at one of three reactors that melted down in the 2011 disaster, a milestone in the decades-long process to decommission the plant. Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco) said on Monday that workers started removing the first of 566 used and unused fuel units stored in the pool at Unit 3. The fuel units in the pool located high up in reactor buildings are intact despite the disaster, but the pools are not enclosed so removing the units to safer ground is crucial to avoid disaster in case of another major quake. Tepco said the removal at Unit 3 would take two years, followed by the two other reactors. The step comes ahead of the real challenge of removing melted fuel from inside the reactors, but details of how that might be done are still largely unknown. Removing the fuel in the cooling pools was delayed five years by mishaps, high radiation and radioactive debris from an explosion that occurred at the time of the reactor meltdown, underscoring the difficulties that remain.