By Ron Ambrosio
You walk into a room at night and flip the light switch on the wall. The lights come on. You didn’t think twice about that …you were certain it would work. While we’re not at that point everywhere in the world yet, it is true of most industrialized regions that electricity is a highly reliable resource. But the reality behind that simple action of turning on a light switch is a constantly evolving list of uncertainties that utilities deal with 24/7.
Uncertainty takes many forms in the utility industry, from the health of individual devices as they age, to volatility of fuel prices, to the behavior of you, the consumer, and your use of electricity or natural gas. And uncertainty can be equated to risk — the risk of failing to achieve both operational and business objectives. That’s not a risk any business wants to take. Continue Reading »
By Wayne Balta
Today, IBM is participating in a White House roundtable on greenhouse gas reductions, which spotlights leadership by IBM and other large Federal suppliers who are committing to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.
IBM has long taken environmental sustainability seriously, and we have been making aggressive moves for 25 years to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. Today IBM is announcing new goals for the use of renewable energy and for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. In the case of greenhouse gas emissions, this marks the company’s third generation goal.
By Wayne Balta
After years of progress, deforestation of the Amazon basin in Brazil has increased for the past two years running. It rose by 29% in the last recorded year, according to a recent report from the Brazilian government.
The Nature Conservancy, which is the largest environmental advocacy group in the world, has adopted a promising approach to addressing deforestation, which it calls “conservation with development.” Continue Reading »
By Jonathan Schaeffer
At the just-concluded G20 summit in Brisbane, Australia, the leaders of the 20 major economies in the world agreed to “take strong and effective action” on climate change.
Still, at this critical juncture in the history of our planet, it is essential that the scientific world continue to document the dramatic climate changes occurring all across the globe.
One technological area gaining wider use is remote sensing. Today sensors are powerful and inexpensive, network access to remote data is increasing, scientific models are improving, and “big data” algorithms for crunching the numbers are more accessible. Continue Reading »
By Steve Hamm, IBM Writer
With its warm, wet climate and vast expanse of 2.7 million square miles of land, the Amazon River basin has the potential to become one of the world’s most productive agricultural regions—essential for feeding a global population that’s fast-approaching eight billion.
Yet, at the same time, the Amazon rainforest is an invaluable—and imperiled–natural resource. According to The Nature Conservancy, no other place is more critical to human survival. The basin, which is about the size of the United States and touches eight countries, harbors one-third of the planet’s biodiversity, produces one-fourth of the fresh water and plays a key role in warding off the worst effects of climate change. Continue Reading »
By Dr. Xiaowei Shen
To help China deliver on its ambitious energy and environmental goals, IBM recently launched a major 10-year initiative called Green Horizon. Led by IBM Research – China with support from our network of 12 global research labs and a number of high-profile partners, we will bring cutting-edge technologies to bear on three key areas: air quality management, renewable energy forecasting and energy optimization. Continue Reading »
By Xiaowei Shen
China’s economic development story is truly incredible. With an average GDP growth of 10% over the past 30 years, China has emerged as the world’s second-largest economy and largest manufacturer.
But as a nation we realize that for China to sustain rapid growth some things have to change. One of the most central and widely discussed issues is ensuring growth while protecting the environment and the health of our citizens. We understand that our success should not come at the cost of future generations. Continue Reading »
By Steve Hamm
Over the past decade, the use of wind power has exploded–driven initially by demand in North America and Western Europe. But a variety of factors, including the economic slowdown in Europe and low-cost natural gas in the United States, have slowed wind adoption in developed economies. So now the emerging nations are driving growth. Now, aided in part by sophisticated weather science, those countries could play a huge role in blunting the effects of climate change.
In fact, a test project that’s being launched in China’s windy northern Hebei province could help clear the way for accelerated wind power adoption worldwide. Jibei Electricity Power Company, working with scientists from IBM Research-China, is using new technology to analyze weather and wind farm operations data in an effort to increase the reliability and economies of using wind energy on utility grids. “This is more than just business. It’s very important for society, for the whole of mankind,” says Henry Yu, a veteran of the Chinese utility industry who now works for IBM.
Today, coal provides about 80% of China’s electricity. Smog chokes the major Chinese cities and huge clouds of soot from the country’s coal-burning power plants have spread as far as the West Coast of the United States. The government is determined to do something about the situation—through a combination of subsidies and directives. As a result, last year China overtook the United States as the world’s largest user of wind power.
By Steve Hamm
Mark Twain’s often repeated quip, “Everybody talks about the weather but nobody does anything about it,” captures perfectly humanity’s frustration with the vagaries of weather. Take heart, though. While IBM Researcher Lloyd Treinish doesn’t claim he can change the weather, he and his environmental science team at IBM Research promise they can do the next-best thing: help people make better decisions based on pin-point accurate weather predictions.
The team’s sophisticated weather prediction technology, nicknamed Deep Thunder, can help city managers prepare for severe storms; farmers plan the planting, irrigation and harvesting of crops; and electrical utilities respond to hurricanes or integrate alternative energy sources such as wind and solar into their grids. “When we think of the impact of weather on business, it’s enormous,” Lloyd says. “In this country alone, it’s estimated that a significant fraction of the GDP is dependent on weather conditions.”
Eventually, the team’s technology could be useful for individuals as well. Already, Treinish gets calls from IBM research colleagues who are planning backyard barbeques and want to avoid rainouts. Continue Reading »
By Stephen Ahn
How will the next generation of leaders solve the world’s sustainability challenges? We asked Erb/WEC Fellow Stephen Ahn, who’s participating in a new program created by the University of Michigan’s Erb Institute for Global Sustainable Enterprise, the World Environment Center and IBM. You can also read a perspective on this topic by Stephen’s colleague, Emily Taylor, here.
At the World Environment Center conference on resource scarcity, I had the chance to hear speakers from the National Intelligence Council, the New America Foundation and the WWF engage with corporate executives. Invited to attend as a WEC/Erb Fellow - with sponsorship from IBM – I was struck by how dire our future looked. Continue Reading »