Posts Tagged ‘sustainable’

Comlight
15Megan Jones

Megan JonesApril 9, 2014

Technoport 2014: Siri Skøien on entrepreneurial success

At the end of April innovators, entrepreneurs, business leaders and other technology pioneers will gather in Trondheim for Technoport 2014. In the run up to this exciting event, we will publish a series of interviews with our speakers to learn more about how they are driving innovation. This week we hear from Siri Skøien, an award-winning entrepreneur and founder of Comlight, a motion-sensing street light system to reduce energy use.

Where did you get the idea for Comlight from, and how did it start?
It really started as an idea – I had no engineering or technical experience, I come from a business background, but I knew that if I didn’t do this someone else would. So for the first year I was working alone, getting the marketing plan off the ground and starting the patenting process. And from there I worked on incorporating electrical engineering and so forth.

How did you find the process of looking for early stage funding?
It was very difficult – very difficult, even in Norway.  This was seven years ago, and I think there’s been some progress since then, but I spent a long time looking for funding. You know, I would keep calling people and I’d get 200 noes and eventually one yes, and that’s what you’re waiting for. One thing I did was I used the local press to get the word out, I tried to get coverage of all the new developments in the local press. And actually it ended up that our first investor contacted me! It may be that I got very lucky, but that’s how we started.

Since Comlight has been going for seven years, as you say, how has the product changed over time?
We’ve made some improvements to the radar detection, and recently to the backend so users like road authorities have a better computer programme to see all the lights individually and manage them. That’s been a big project.

With the radar system, the first generation of Comlight could only detect cars and trucks and other vehicles. It took two years of intensive research and development to create a system that could detect pedestrians, which is what we have now. We’re always working to incorporate market feedback to increase the functionality, and so customers can adapt the system to their needs.

So how would a pedestrian experience street lighting in a place where Comlight has been installed? I can imagine that people would be concerned about safety.
Yes. In fact, though, I often have people come to me and say, “Are you sure it’s working? I can’t see the lights turning off anywhere.” And I say, “That’s great!” That’s how it’s supposed to be. We wanted to create a product that is so effective you don’t notice that the lights are off in front of you or behind you. If you’re walking through a park you don’t want have that spotlight feeling of being lit up on a stage. This applies to cars as well. It’s about safety as well as energy savings – safety and security is a big priority. So the system is working and saving energy, but our eyes can’t detect it.

Where is Comlight going in the future?
We want to stay small and stay innovative – to always be one step ahead, because the customers are always asking for more things. We do have some work going on in Canada and the US, but for this year we are mostly focusing on Europe. Our target customers is big lighting companies like OSRAM and GE, because it’s very time-consuming to go after the end-customers ourselves. Companies like that want to offer smart lighting but they don’t have what Comlight has, so they buy our product and sell it on to road authorities, city agencies and so on.

In terms of developing the Comlight system, we’re looking to increase the functionality so it can do other things like monitor traffic, count vehicles or check speed. It’s possible to incorporate things that aren’t even connected to lighting and energy efficiency, and that’s where this technology is going.

Are you optimistic about the future of smart lighting?
Yes, I’m very optimistic. Smart cities as a concept is really taking off, and the market for smart lighting has grown a lot recently. Norway has fallen a bit behind, people tend to want to install the same systems as they always have, but still it’s increasing here too.

Smart cities are one of the biggest movements of our time, and this has really expanded even in just the last year. This is where the world is headed.

Want to hear more?

Siri will feature at our Venture Angels and Crowd Investors event at Technoport 2014. She will elaborate on the topics explored in this interview as we shed light on the future of funding new ventures. Learn more about Technoport 2014.

Image credit: Comlight AS

Shareable.net
15Megan Jones

Megan JonesApril 2, 2014

Technoport 2014: Lauren Anderson on the game-changing power of collaborative consumption

At the end of April innovators, entrepreneurs, business leaders and other technology pioneers will gather in Trondheim for Technoport 2014. In the run up to this exciting event, we will publish a series of interviews with our speakers to learn more about how they are driving innovation. This week we hear from Lauren Anderson, Community Director at the pioneering shared economy organisation Collaborative Consumption.

1. How would you explain “collaborative consumption”?

We describe collaborative consumption as the reinvention of old market behaviours such as bartering, lending, swapping, trading and exchanging – but this time they’ve been reinvented for the Facebook age! Social, mobile and location-based technologies are enabling us to share and exchange all kinds of assets now – from physical stuff to less tangible things like time, skills and space – on a scale and in ways that wouldn’t have been possible even 10 years ago.

2. How is collaborative consumption disrupting existing models of doing business?

We are already seeing collaborative consumption disrupting established 100-year-old industries such as car manufacturing, hospitality and even banking by putting the power in the hands of the people. These new technologies are not only more efficient and often more affordable, but they also provide more authentic and personal experiences over mass-produced and standardised, which is something people are hungry for these days. Having said this, there are many ways that existing companies can, and should, get involved in understanding how this consumer shift might affect them, and what they can do to maintain relevance and build brand loyalty with these new consumers.

3. What are some examples of different types of businesses that are leading this movement?

In our directory of examples we have documented more than 1000 examples of collaborative consumption globally, and have found examples in more than 100 countries. But while there are many small local marketplaces in this space, there are also some bigger global companies who operate across a number of continents.

Airbnb, the p2p accommodation marketplace, is arguably the biggest collaborative consumption platform in the world, behind sites like eBay. TaskRabbit and similar task marketplace platforms have been hugely successful. Carsharing and bikesharing platforms are up and running in hundreds of cities around the world, transforming the ideas of mobility. And for a local start-up, EasyBring is a collaborative distribution service, or ‘crowdshipping’, tapping into a network of deliverers who can send packages for others.

4. Cities are also getting involved – tell us a bit more about that.

Cities look after a lot of the regulation at a local level, and in many cases collaborative consumption companies are not adequately dealt with in the current legislation, causing a lot of uncertainty and fear. Other than that, there are many ways cities can adopt collaborative consumption-based models to supply services to residents and also build a culture of empowered citizens rather than a passive community. We expect to see many cities following the likes of Seoul in South Korea, and Portland, Oregon, to really make Shareable Cities part of their mandate.

5. What role can collaborative consumption play in overcoming global challenges such as climate change?

As an example, most collaborative consumption platforms are focused on maximising the ‘idling’ or underused capacity of the things around us – ensuring that the things we own are used to their full potential. Other platforms are dedicated to the redistribution of stuff from where it’s not wanted to somewhere it’s needed, extending the lifecycle of products otherwise headed to landfill. And perhaps most importantly, collaborative consumption encourages people to consider whether they really need to buy something new, or if there are other ways they could access it, which might involve connecting with other people in the community.

6. Where do you see collaborative consumption going in the future?

In the future, we definitely see that there will be much more involvement from existing organisations, as well as local and even federal governments, as collaborative consumption becomes a much bigger part of the consumer ecosystem. We will start to see the most successful models of collaborative consumption being scaled and replicated around the world, and local economies will be strengthened through these new ideas. Ultimately we believe that we will be able to reduce our reliance on the consumer machine, and that we will be able to restore the balance of community and contribution that we are missing today.

Want to hear more?

Lauren will feature at our Troublemakers event at Technoport 2014. She will elaborate on the topics explored in this interview as we showcase stories of some of the individuals behind disruptive companies. Learn more about Technoport 2014.

Image credit: Shareable.net

Transnova
1Lina Ingeborgrud

Lina IngeborgrudMarch 21, 2014

Pure electric driving pleasure: the electric car in our comfort society

The car has become an essential part of our transportation system – it gives us the flexibility and the possibility to go anywhere, anytime. Most people in Norway have a car, and almost feel as if they can´t make it through the day without it. However, the car is also a threat to our environment, responsible for 1/3 of Norway’s CO2-emissions. What impact does this have on Norwegian car users?

In January 2013, I was an intern at Transnova for three weeks, and am now writing my thesis in collaboration with them – about the electric car in our comfort society. Transnova is a governmental agency that provide grants to different projects to reduce CO2-emissions from the transportation sector. I find this very important, and in my thesis I focus on user experiences – their needs and thoughts about cars in general, and electric cars in particular. A lot of people in Norway use electric cars, and increasing their use even further has been proposed as a means of reducing emissions from private transportation. But is there a gap between the electric driving experience and the experience of comfortable transport?

Norway has the highest number of private electric cars per capita in the world. Why and how has the electric car become such a success story in Norway? First of all, there is a willingness in the political arena for supporting low-emission technologies, and the Norwegian government has given the electric car a lot of advantages compared to the petrol car. These advantages include no sales tax or duty on purchase, free parking in municipal car parks, free use of bus lanes in cities and exemption from tolls & congestion charges. These incentives will continue until at least 2017, or until there are 50,000 electric cars on the roads (there are currently approximately 23,000). What will happen to the electric car in the future? It is very important not to forget the users: what do users mean by the term ”comfort” when it comes to transportation? I wanted to find out.

My research data was gathered from 15 interviews – 8 with electric car owners (most of them had the family car Nissan Leaf) and 7 with people driving petrol cars. Most of the electric car owners had a petrol car as well, but they tried to use this only when necessary. All the electric car drivers told me their electric car felt more comfortable than their present – or earlier – petrol car. They described their electric car as a safe, environmentally friendly, economic, aesthetically pleasing and exciting technology with great driving characteristics. The petrol car drivers – on the other hand – felt guilty about the environment when they used their cars and said that this guilt diminished their enjoyment from driving.

The political incentives designed to encourage electric car usage were important in the beginning – when drivers first made the decision to go electric. However, as they became accustomed to using their electric car the relative importance of these incentives was reduced. Instead, users valued electric vehicles in terms of both the material and technical equipment, and also the rewarding feeling of being more environmentally friendly. The research found that environmental awareness and comfort were able to act in synergy to create a more pleasurable driving experience. Both electric and petrol car users valued cultural, internal and environmental values as being important in their vehicle choice. If we wish to increase the uptake of electric vehicles as much as possible, it is important that policies appeal to these values as well as the economic incentives that have been used so far.

At Technoport 2014, Transnova will participate in a Share the Problem workshop on the afternoon of Mon 28th April.

The workshop will design a conceptual “point and explain” prototype of the electric vehicle that disregards the conventional automobile as an aspirational model. Register for Technoport 2014 now to participate in the session and attend other workshops and talks from internationally renowned speakers on technology and innovation.

Image credit: Transnova

Wired_FoodieDice
15Megan Jones

Megan JonesFebruary 27, 2014

10 Exciting Crowdfunded… Foods

Cows, crickets or coconut ice cream? With food at the heart of many global challenges, from climate change to soil loss, this week we bring you 10 crowdfunding innovations you can actually eat.

1. Goodio Cools

Image: FundedByMe

The Finnish food company Goodio already makes chocolate, but they know that even in cold countries people want ice cream. With a successful equity campaign on FundedByMe, they are now getting ready to launch a dairy-free, organic ice cream made from coconuts. They promise it in four flavours – vanilla, chocolate, strawberry and mint – so stay tuned on their Facebook page for future delectation.

2. Beer52

Image: Beer52

What could be more popular than a crowdfunding campaign where the supporters get rewarded in beer? With this Scottish craft beer club, Beer52, beer-lovers can subscribe to receive monthly boxes of craft beers from around the UK. Small, local breweries get national distribution and word-of-mouth advertising, consumers get to try new products, innovators collaborate, and the world becomes merrier and slightly more intoxicated.

3. Flavourly

Image: DollyBakes

Monthly food sampling must be the next big thing, because another new start-up, Flavourly, reached its crowdfunding target within 24 hours. The equity campaign only launched on Angels Den two weeks ago, and the founders have already had to introduce a stretch goal.

Like Beer52, Flavourly is a subscription service in the UK that allows customers to discover new craft beers every month – but this time packages also include fine foods and snacks.

4. Exo

Image: edible startups

If you’ve ever been grossed out by a bug-eating contest, you might not be so excited about the UN’s recent recommendation that we should all be eating insects. On the other hand, innovators like the guys from Exo think insect protein might be more palatable without the “ick factor” of crunchy legs.

Exo protein bars are made from ground up cricket flour and other, tastier ingredients like chocolate. Eating crickets could help overcome the global food crisis, since they need much less food and water than, say, cows, have much lower GHG emissions, and reproduce faster. They also have more iron and high calcium content.

Thanks to a successful Kickstarter campaign, you can now pre-order your very own Exo bars. And let’s be honest – they’ve got to taste better than stink bugs.

5. Koopeenkoe

Image: New Scientist

Cut to the chase and get straight to the heart of things with the Dutch scheme Koopeenkoe, where customers buy beef directly from the source. The best part? A cow isn’t slaughtered until every part of it has been sold, minimising waste and maximising freshness. The cows are raised on a mostly organic diet and outside most of the time, and customers get to eat locally. The website is in Dutch, but this article explains the process in English.

6. Foodie Dice

Image: WIRED

Finally, a legitimate excuse to “play with your food”. This Kickstarter project spices up an ordinary cooking experience with an element of chance. To play, role six Foodie Dice, see what ingredients land face-up, and use all or some of them to make your meal more creative. The basic pack includes nine dice: protein, cooking method, grain/carb, herb, bonus ingredient, plus spring, summer, autumn, and winter vegetables. The bonus pack includes a wild card, spices, dessert and vegetarian protein. This campaign only finished in November, but you can already order your own Foodie Dice on the website.

7. Pizza Rossa

Image: Wikipedia

The award for best start-up of 2013 – at least on Crowdcube – goes to Pizza Rossa, a new fast-food restaurant hitting the streets of London later this year. Their campaign also beat records for largest amount of equity funding raised in the UK. Unlike Italy or New York, good pizza by the slice has apparently been hard to find in Britain – but not for much longer.

8. inSpiral Kale Chips

Image: inSpiral

Bye-bye fatty potato crisps, hello guilt-free kale chips. Wildly popular in US health food circles, this superfood is becoming increasingly mainstream in Europe. The start-up inSpiral markets their kale chips as a raw food, vegan, gluten-free, additive free, organic snack – salty, flavourful, and still good for you.

Thanks to their Crowdcube campaign, these Inspiral kale chips are now cheaper, more widely available, and sold in a 100% compostable packaging. Check out their inspir(al)ing crowdfunding pitch on Youtube.

9. Soylent

Image: Soylent

If you see cooking as a hassle you may find new happiness in Soylent, a food replacement that claims to “free your body” from food. Whether Soylent makes eating pleasurable is debatable, and some nutritionists are dubious about its health benefits. Still in its experimental phase, if more widely accepted Soylent may also help ease global hunger and malnutrition. In the meantime, its new nutrition label sheds some light on its many health-giving ingredients.

One thing is certain: Soylent’s crowdfunding campaign has been a massive success, raising around $2 million. The product should be available for wider consumption in spring 2014.

10. FundaFeast

Image: GoFundMe

Like 4D printing, crowdfunding perpetuates itself. Through GoFundMe, individuals can raise cash for their own personal projects – in this case, FundaFeast. One of the first dedicated food crowdfunding sites, FundaFeast went live on February 1st and may mark the beginning of a increase in more specialised crowdfunding platforms than the Kickstarter and Indiegogo giants.

Other food crowdfunding (foodfunding?) platforms – mostly US-based – include Credibles, where customers support local food business in exchange for credit, and Foodstart, raising money for restaurants and food trucks.

 

All of these projects sound delicious, but where are the Norwegians? If you know of a Norwegian crowdfunded food scheme, we want to hear about it!

FluorescentTobacco
15Megan Jones

Megan JonesFebruary 17, 2014

10 Exciting Crowdfunded… Gadgets

With crowdfunding, anyone can help turn the craziest of dreams into a fully functional reality. From the innovative to the sustainable to the just plain wacky, these 10 successful campaigns give a taste of the great new tech coming out of crowdfunding.

1. WakaWaka Light and Power

WakaWaka Power

Image: WakaWaka

This lamp is solar powered and super efficient, lasting for up to 80 hours. It can stand up on its own or attached to a bottle top. The WakaWaka Power, released in 2013, can also be used to charge a smartphone, MP3 player or tablet.

Even better, the profits from sales in the West are used to give WakaWakas to some of the 1.2 billion people without access to electricity. Replacing kerosene lamps with solar light cuts down on CO2 emissions, reduces health problems like burns, and saves families money. That makes WakaWakas a win-win!

These nifty gadgets have had three crowdfunding campaigns – Kickstart and Symbid for the WakaWaka Light, and again on Kickstarter for WakaWaka Power. Or you can check out the website to buy the gadget yourself.

2. Glowing Plant

Image: WIRED

The boundaries between technology and nature are sometimes hard to define. No more so than with this crowdfunding project, which caused quite a stir last summer when campaigners offered to give away free glowing plants to their Kickstarter backers.

The project seeks to develop sustainable, natural lighting by genetically modifying plants to glow in the dark – but its wild popularity comes from its wacky, science fiction appeal.

The founders describe their crowdfunding success as an exciting new development for synthetic biology, but critics worry about the environmental risks when GMOs are freely distributed. In the wake of this controversy Kickstarter has banned GMOs as rewards, alongside guns and alcohol. Interested people in the US can still pre-order glow-in-the-dark seeds or plants on the Glowing Plant website, but distribution to Europe is illegal under EU law.

3. Wood. Head. Phones.

Image: Inhabitat

Except for the wire inside them, these headphones are made entirely of wood. The inventor, a 19-year-old product designer from Oslo, named them after the Norwegian word “treskalle” – literally meaning “wood head”, or “stupid” – because, as he says in his crowdfunding video, “this is, in a lot of ways, a stupid product”.

In spite of this modesty, the headphones supposedly have a sweet sound and are custom-made for each person in ash, oak, cherry, or walnut. It’s not clear if you can still buy your own Wood. Head. Phones., but the Facebook page is a good place to start looking.

4. Kano

Image: Kano

If you’ve ever wanted the satisfaction of building your own computer, then look no further than Kano. For geeks and newbies of all ages, this cool kit comes with 11 components – including how-to guides – and is cute enough to give mainstream laptops a run for their money.

With Kano you can make games and learn code, and it’s open source, so using it can only get more fun. The smash hit Kickstarter campaign raised 15 times the original goal, and you can find out more or pre-order your own at the Kano website.

5. Morpher

Image: Indiegogo

Do you use a helmet when you cycle? Many people don’t, and this British inventor thinks he’s found one reason why: helmets are too bulky, especially for people using a bike rental scheme. The solution? A folding helmet.

Morpher folds in half, making it easy to slip it into a rucksack or laptop bag. It should be as safe as an ordinary helmet – most of the crowdfunded money will be used to meet international safety standards – and even comes in pretty colours. Check out the Indiegogo campaign or Morpher website for more info.

6. BUILD

Image: Indiegogo

Tired of boring furniture? Well, designers in Germany have developed modular shelving that is non-toxic, long lasting and completely recyclable. Beneath its funky shape lies a high-tech structure of polypropylene plastic foam that also makes it lightweight and shock-absorbent.

With BUILD you decide what shape you want, and can put it on a wall or use it to divide up a room. Plus if you move house or need an extra few chairs for that big dinner party, each block doubles up as a box, a seat, or even a cooler. Check out the Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign, or go straight for the product.

7. ThePresent

Image: thepresent

OMMMMMMMMM.

Relaxed yet? No? Well maybe it’s time to welcome ThePresent into your life. Its New York inventor touts this as the first 365-day clock – in one year the hand only rotates once around the face. With its colourful display to evoke the changing seasons, this clock is a reminder to stop and smell the roses.

The Kickstarter campaign has a great video about how the clock was made. Check out ThePresent website to learn more or get your own.

8. JACK

Image: autoevolution

Between walking and cycling lies a third choice for the eco-friendly commuter: the electric, folding scooter. JACK, as this Dutch prototype is called, weighs less than 20kg, can be charged in a car or home, and fits easily in a car boot or on public transport.

JACK can travel at speeds up to 25kph (15mph), but with a full battery it only lasts 20k (12.5 miles) so it’s more suited to a city spin than a road trip. All the specs are on the Symbid campaign page or the JACK website.

9. Tellspec

Image: Tellspec

If you’re human, you’ve probably worried about what’s in your food at least once. Does that apple have pesticides on it? Are there nasty additives in my pre-packaged sandwich? How many calories are in that slice of cake?

Tellspec hopes to answer these questions. Through spectrometry, Tellspec uses a laser to scan the chemicals inside a piece of food, and then wirelessly sends the results to your smartphone. For anyone with a food allergy, watching their weight or just keen on good food, this is definitely a product to watch. The Indiegogo campaign finished in November, so stay tuned on the website for launch as early as August.

10. Emotiv Insight

Image: Kickstarter

It’s not a jetpack, but it comes pretty close. The Emotiv Insight will allow you to move objects with your mind. With previous models, people have used their thoughts to create music, drive a car, manipulate a robot, type on a keyboard, and operate a wheelchair. This new model, crowdfunded on Kickstart, should also be able to record emotions, stress levels, physical fitness and facial expressions.

Emotiv Insight works through electroencephalography (EEG) to interpret the neuron signals  in the user’s brain. To make it more accessible, designers are making this gadget lightweight and cheaper, and adding dry sensors (so you don’t need to smear gel on your head every time you use it). Whether it’s helping people recover from injury, manage a disability, or just try out something awesome, this gadget screams “watch out, world”.

 

Is there a gadget we’ve left out? Which one would you choose?

Multiple car households
60David Nikel

David NikelFebruary 3, 2014

Do you really need two cars?

Second in our series on sustainable driving is the growing trend of car collectives.

A recent study suggests car use across America is declining.

At the same time, membership in car-sharing schemes is on the up:

Global growth in car sharing

Global growth of car-sharing. Graphic by EMBARQ.

Car collectives provide a membership-based system of access to private vehicles, only when members need them, thus rendering the purchase of a car unnecessary. It began as an idealist notion but has rapidly evolved into a thriving global industry, albeit one with a long journey still to take.

Car sharing in Trondheim

There’s a car collective right here in Trondheim, so I headed down to their Sandgata office to meet the Director, Leif Tore Anderssen. Of most interest for me was discovering the biggest market for Trondheim Bilkollektiv isn’t those without a car, it’s actually multi-car families.

“People living in inner cities don’t need two cars. It’s expensive for them. Many of our members join specifically so they can sell one of their own cars”, says Anderssen.

The popularity of car sharing is growing in Trondheim. The number of available cars has increased from 10 to 50 in the last five years, located at 16 strategic locations in the city centre and suburbs. Membership in the collective now standing at a record 700.

That’s less than half of one percent of the city’s population, but this looks set to increase. The collective is targeting local businesses to join up, and talking to the owners of new residential developments about partnerships. The impressive new Grilstad Marina is a perfect example, a development of 800 brand new homes that will soon host a couple of the collective’s cars.

Interestingly, electric cars are not yet part of the car collective strategy in Trondheim.

“In the future we could have more in the collective, but for now we think until a greater percentage of our members understand how to use them and the infrastructure for charging them develops. Perhaps people could own an electric car, then use our cars for longer trips”, says Anderssen.

Because they require a critical mass of members to be economically viable, car collectives only tend to be found in urban centres. Elsewhere in Norway, schemes exist in Oslo, Bergen, Stavanger, Kristiansand and Tromsø.

So, over to you.

Does your family really need two cars?

Photo credit: Michael Greene

Tesla S
60David Nikel

David NikelJanuary 20, 2014

Can electric cars provide a more sustainable future?

Whatever the environmental concerns, it seems certain that the car is part of our future here on earth. So here on the Technoport Playground, I’ll be taking a look at innovation in the car industry, and what steps are being taken to help us achieve a safer and more sustainable future. First up, the electric car.

Right now, the best selling car is Norway is not made by Ford, Toyota, or Volvo. It’s the Tesla Model S, the world’s first premium electric sedan.

It’s so popular in Norway primarily because of a Government economic incentive package, designed to encourage 50,000 zero emission vehicles on to Norway’s roads by 2018.

The incentives include:

  • No sales tax or duty on purchase
  • Free parking in municipal car parks
  • Free use of the bus lane in cities
  • No tolls or congestion charges

Tax on buying new cars in Norway is colossal, so the first point alone is sending hoards of Norwegian drivers into Tesla showrooms.

It’s not a model that can be copied by other countries without some serious investment in infrastructure. Electric cars require electric charging stations, and Norway has one of the best developed networks outside the USA. One driver (the northernmost Tesla owner in the world!) proved it’s possible to drive all the way from Oslo to Kirkenes at an electricity cost of just NOK 400. Free charging stations are strategically placed around the country (there’s one here in Trondheim), while other for-cost stations are placed cleverly at shopping centres and even on ferries, to minimise the disruption when you need to recharge.

However, it’s not all rosy.

Despite the company’s PR stating the car performs well in winter driving conditions, some Norwegian drivers have reported problems with the charging process as the sub-zero winter temperatures have set in.

There’s also the question of how environmentally-friendly electric cars really are.

In Norway, the vast majority of the country’s electricity is generated through hydropower, but with 25,000km of coastline let alone the countless fjords, that’s easy. But for other countries that generate electricity through coal-fired power stations, electric cars will just put more pressure on an already overloaded energy grid.

One Forbes columnist went as far to claim that electric cars are an extraordinarily bad idea, arguing that they are not economically viable without substantial Government support.

So over to you.

Electric cars – part of the solution, or not?

Ocean Forrest
11Annette Hovdal

Annette HovdalSeptember 16, 2013

Future prospects in aquaculture: the challenges in making aqaculture sustainable

15 August, Technoport visited Aqua Nor at Trondheim Spektrum, the world’s biggest aquaculture exhibition. Our day at Aqua Nor were exciting, and we learned about the future prospects in aquaculture, the challenges in making aquaculture sustainable, but also on how to solve these challenges.

Future prospects in Aquaculture
- Expressed in human consumption, we obtain 98 % from land-based production, and only 2 % from the sea, and there lies great business opportunities in the bio marine sector, said Karl A. Almås (CEO, SINTEF Fisheries and Aquaculture), when welcoming to the SINTEF seminar, “Future Prospects in Aquaculture Technology”. The seminar, happening during Aqua Nor, gathered industrial leaders in the Norwegian aquaculture industry, to speak about the possibilities and limitations for future growth in aquaculture.

Karl A. Almås, CEO at SINTEF Fisheries and Aquaculture, says there are great business opportunities in the bio marine sector Photo by: Thor Nielsen

The industrial leaders agreed that there are great possibilities for future growth in aquaculture; the carbon footprint of salmon is 8 times less than of beef, and is therefore more sustainable. However, the industry is also facing challenges. The speakers pointed to different challenges, saying that one for example needs to solve the sustainability issues.

One of the sustainability challenges is linked to the fish meal for farmed salmon. For the salmon to be a healthy product, it has to contain omega-3 fatty acids, in other words; fish oil. The problem is that the price and demand for fish oil increases, but the access of fish oil is not growing. Einar Wathne (CEO, EWOS), said there is a need to find alternatives to the fish oil in the fish meal. Another sustainability problem is sea lice. Farmed salmon with sea lice that runs away is a threat for the wild fish. Diseases the farmed salmon get is also a problem, and means production loss. Development of new vaccination is important here, Edel Anne Norderhuus, Research director in Pharmaq, said.

Trond Giske, the Minister of Trade and Industry, held a speech about Norway’s interests in the marin- and maritim sector under the seminar. Photo by: Thor Nielsen

To realise the possibilities in Aquaculture, one needs to solve the challenges, said Alf-Helge Aarskog (CEO, Marine Harvest). Several elements were mentioned to solve the problems, for example new technology, a closer tie between the operators and the technologists,  development of new vaccination, more researchers from Europe working on the challenges, and more recruitment of people to the aquaculture industry. The leaders also called for more agriculture area around the coast of Norway.

Ocean Forest – a project to make aquaculture sustainable

At Aqua Nor the environmental foundation, Bellona, and the fish farming company, Lerøy Seafood Group, presented the new company, Ocean Forest.  Later this fall, the new company will establish a test facility at Sotra in Hordaland, to test integrated aquaculture on a large scale.

Ocean Forest med vindmøller

An illustration of how Ocean Forrest might look like. Photo: Bellona

-The goal with Ocean Forest is to address aquaculture environmental challenges, help removing CO2 from the atmosphere, at the same time as creating economic value, said Fredric Hauge (president, Bellona) in a press release, during Aqua Nor. The company will do research on how ecological interactions between species can help to solve the environmental problems that farming operations create, and at the same time seek economic value by being in the driver’s seat when it comes to finding new sources of biomass and bioenergy.

Technoport is confident that aquaculture is one of the solutions to the worlds growing need for food, provided it is done in a sustainable way. Ocean Forest is an exciting initiative. We hope the collaboration between Bellona and Lerøy will contribute to solve the sustainability challenges that the aquaculture industry is facing, and make fish farming a green alternative to meat.

There were 480 different exhibitors at Aqua Nor, and 18 500 visitors, from 65 countries visited Aqua Nor 2013.

Photo by: Bellona (illustration of how the Ocean Forrest facilities migh look like)


Global Water Partnership (CC)
5Erling Hess Johnsen

Erling Hess JohnsenSeptember 11, 2013

Cleaning the ocean of plastic in 5 years

19 year old Boyan Slat may have developed a plan to clean the world’s oceans of plastic in just 5 years – with profit.

No one knows exactly how much plastic that floats around in the ocean, but it’s a lot. And it is a huge problem, causing damage to both ships, and of course the marine life. Part of the problem is also that the plastic is not static, it moves around, and gathers in so-called gyres.

The traditional way for removing plastic is by attaching a giant mesh to a ship. The problem with using a mesh is that it results in a lot of by-catch due to the varying size of debris, plus it takes time and would generate a lot of emissions.

Instead, Boyan Slat and The Ocean Cleanup Foundation are working on a more elegant solution. They suggest using floating booms instead of nets, able to cover a much larger area. These giant booms will float around at low speed – following the ocean currents exactly like the plastic itself. What makes the idea so brilliant, is that virtually no piece of plastic is too small to be gathered by the booms, and due to the low speed, it is very unlikely that the vessel will cause any damage to planktonic species.

And unlike ships using a mesh, the booms will generate no emissions, as they are solar and hydro power based. Slat and his colleagues have estimated the surface-floating plastic in the ocean to be about 7.25 million tons, and all this, he says, can be cleaned up in only 5 years by using 5 vessels.

And best of all: the plan costs less to execute than the income they are likely to receive only by recycling the plastic. “In other words, it’s profitable”, he says.

Though the solution has yet to be tested before we know whether it’s feasible, the Ocean Cleanup Foundation is optimistic. They are currently working on a feasibility study to be published within the coming months, and at the same time expanding their staff.

What do you think, is this the solution to one of our main environmental problems?

Photo by: Global Water Partnership (CC)

Marchlyn Resovoir
1Henrik Karlstrøm

Henrik KarlstrømSeptember 10, 2013

What do people think about Norway as Europe’s “green battery”?

The politics of Norway’s energy supply is not something that many people often think a lot about. However, in recent months a discussion about whether Norway should increase its production of renewable energy, and extend more cables to neighbouring countries to become Europe’s “green battery”, has started. Here, I will try to discuss the issue of an increased power exchange with the rest of Europe, by looking at what average electricity users think about these questions.

But first, what is the idea behind the “green battery”? Well, Europe is rapidly increasing its adoption of renewable energy, with Denmark now being 40 % renewable, and Germany approaching 20 %. This is mostly good news, as this power replaces more polluting sources of electricity, or at least keeps some coal or gas plants from being built. However, renewable energy is less stable than fossil fuel energy, because it relies more directly on the current weather conditions. When it is windy, Spain can get two thirds of its power from wind turbines, but when it is not it needs to get power from somewhere else.

This is where Norway and the idea of a green battery come in. With its large supply of hydropower, which is stable, and can be turned on or off in a matter of minutes, Norway is an ideal candidate to act as a regulating instance in an electricity grid where renewables is an increasing part of the mix. It is also a potential source of income for Norwegian electricity companies and the Norwegian municipalities that mostly own these utilities, as well as the Norwegian state, which gets more tax revenue from it.

Because of its beneficial environmental effects, several environmental organisations, such as Zero and Bellona, strongly support the adoption of more renewables in the Norwegian energy mix. They are lobbying for increased power exchange with other European countries. Local governments in the south of Norway (link in Norwegian) have also voiced support for the scheme, wishing to benefit from increased exports.

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photo by: ohefin