... Germany turned to solar like never before last Friday and Saturday as the nation's PV installations fed 22 gigawatts of electricity into the grid at one point, providing nearly half of the country's energy needs.
In doing so, Germany answered some critical questions as it reshapes its policy away from nuclear power and toward renewable sources like solar, wind and biomass. Chief among the concerns is how much intermittent solar Germany can seamlessly integrate into its grid without causing major disruptions.
During one 24-hour period, Germany’s PV accounted for nearly a third of the nation’s energy needs on midday Friday when the nation’s factories and offices were humming along, and then it approached 50 percent midday Saturday as residents enjoyed a sun-filled weekend.
Of course this drops to near zero at night as there is very little storage in Germany (or anywhere), but an important point is output somewhat matches demand.
An economic analysis of a sample of neighborhoods in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area using walkability measures finds that:
° More walkable places perform better economically. For neighborhoods within metropolitan Washington, as the number of environmental features that facilitate walkability and attract pedestrians increase, so do office, residential, and retail rents, retail revenues, and for-sale residential values.
° Walkable places benefit from being near other walkable places. On average, walkable neigh- borhoods in metropolitan Washington that cluster and form walkable districts exhibit higher rents and home values than stand-alone walkable places.
° Residents of more walkable places have lower transportation costs and higher transit access, but also higher housing costs. Residents of more walkable neighborhoods in metro- politan Washington generally spend around 12 percent of their income on transportation and 30 percent on housing. In comparison, residents of places with fewer environmental features that encourage walkability spend around 15 percent on transportation and 18 percent on housing.
° Residents of places with poor walkability are generally less affluent and have lower edu- cational attainment than places with good walkability. Places with more walkability features have also become more gentrified over the past decade. However, there is no significant differ- ence in terms of transit access to jobs between poor and good walkable places.
The findings of this study offer useful insights for a diverse set of interests. Lenders, for example, should find cause to integrate walkability into their under
and from the conclusion section:
Considering the economic benefits, walkability should be a critical part of all strategic growth plans. The implications of this study cut across the federal and state, metropolitan, and place levels.
Public policy should become more favorable toward walkable placemaking. Currently, many federal and state subsidies substantially favor low-density development and tip the scales against walkable development. Further, many local zoning codes make walkable development illegal, necessitating costly and time-consuming zoning changes with no guarantee of success. Federal, state, and local policy makers should conduct a systematic review of existing public policies that are biased against walkable development, and adopt new measures aimed at facilitating (or at least removing roadblocks to) this type of development.
For their part, local and regional planning agencies should incorporate assessments of walkability into their strategic economic development plans. Planning entities should identify where regional- serving and local-serving walkable urban places exist within a metropolitan area, seek out those places that are positioned to become more walkable, and determine potential locations of future walkable places. This type of assessment will help determine where infrastructure and other built environ- ment improvements are needed. Since high-density walkable urban places seem to account for a small amount of a metropolitan area’s existing land mass, it is probable that the infrastructure cost per dwelling unit or commercial square foot will be a fraction of that of existing low-density drivable suburban infrastructure costs.46
At the same time, the apparent supply-demand mismatch for walkable places may be contributing significantly to the price premium these places demand. To the extent that this is the case, the short- and medium-term shortage of walkable places makes them inaccessible (unaffordable) to many people who desire to live in such places. As such, it is important to have an affordable housing strategy in place while those improvements are being implemented.
Beyond the direct and indirect policy implications, the results of this study should also inform five sets of stakeholders: private developers and investors, social equity advocates, the public sector, place managers (such as business improvement districts and redevelopment agencies), and citizen-led groups/activists.
I suspect to some extent it is if the main value is measured in terms of how much of the economy can it directly influence and perhaps capture... If Facebook's model is to become another tool that makes the connections between seller and buyer easier and more likely I can't imagine why the IPO was valued so high. User growth may indeed be another billion in the next few years, but that will mostly come from segments of the world economy that total less than 10% of the economic consumption of the first billion.
They are in need of a model or two that will allow them to justify their valuation - my guess is they won't manage it, but at least I'm not a knowing investor (the funds we have money in may be in to some extent - that would be their own folly).
In the meantime I expect more than a few negative articles like this one in the Atlantic along with more than a few rumors and huge amounts of speculation.
Modernist Cuisine is a remarkable piece of work that takes a snapshot at explaining one laboratories approach to the rapidly developing science of food. You can learn a lot reading it, but one criticism is many of the restaurants require kit well beyond what most (nearly all) home cooks have access to. It is easy to come up with a basic tool list that goes beyond $100k...
But now a new title is being released geared to the home cook. Pre-orders are being taken at Amazon at about a quater the price of the original and I suspect sales will be high if it is up to the claims. About 400 new recipes, although I suspect the detailed explaination of why things are done will not be present.
I would love to see a marriage of some of these techniques and vegetarian cuisine ... René Redzepi of Noma fame has been quoted as saying vegetarian cooking is largely uncharted territory with enormous potential and he suspects it may be a candidate for a huge push in culinary creativity in the near future. Of coure one can always experiment on their own, but things are much more interesting when real talent is involved.
Jörgen notes the emergence of Dutch repair cafes (via The NY Times) There appear to be similar signals in the US in the maker community and I notice much less pure consumerism among the 20 somethings I know than what appeared to exist even a half generation back...
One wonders if this is the leading edge of real change or just a short term adjustment to the terrible economy?
Still, the city - or any American city - have a long way to go. Integration of active transportation (human powered - like walking and bike riding) into cites takes a lot of work and careful attention to detail.
A paper by John Pucher and Ralph Buchler of Rutgers (pdf) examines the how and why of the successes of the Netherlands, Denmark and Germany - existence proofs that it can be done.
This paper shows how the Netherlands, Denmark, and Germany have made bicycling a safe, convenient, and practical way to get around their cities. The analysis relies on national aggregate data as well as case studies of large and small cities in each country. The key to achieving high levels of cycling appears to be the provision of separate cycling facilities along heavily traveled roads and at intersections, combined with traffic calming of most residential neighborhoods. Extensive cycling rights of way in the Netherlands, Denmark, and Germany are complemented by ample bike parking, full integration with public transport, comprehensive traffic education and training of both cyclists and motorists, and a wide range of promotional events intended to generate enthusiasm and wide public support for cycling. In addition to their many pro-bike policies and programs, the Netherlands, Denmark, and Germany make driving expensive as well as inconvenient in central cities through a host of taxes and restrictions on car ownership, use, and parking. Moreover, strict land use policies foster compact, mixed-use developments that generate shorter and thus more bikeable trips. It is the coordinated implementation of this multifaceted, mutually reinforcing set of policies that best explains the success of these three countries in promoting cycling. For comparison, the paper portrays the marginal status of cycling in the UK and USA, where only about one percent of trips are by bike.
The Dutch, Danes and Germans decided it was important and have worked policy for decades. It could be done in the US and other areas if there was political will - it would not be expensive and would have a very positive effect on health as well as using less oil.
An excellent talk by John Pucher on the subject and the foils.