Technologies for LIFE, Health and Community
For one of the first times, we can clearly see how our economies and societies will transform in the near future. One could argue that if you were to go back to the mid-1800s and look forward, it would have been very difficult to anticipate what would be the outcomes of the Industrial Revolution. Similarly, if you stood out in the late ’90s at the advent of the Internet and looked towards the future, it was hard to imagine technologies like Google, PayPal, eBay, and smartphones. If we look forward from this point, we can clearly see how things will transform:
Logistics: We know that our logistics systems will be transforming towards automated and, with high probability electric, self-driving vehicles.
Information: We know that our information systems are transforming towards the Internet of Things, a trillion connected sensors and devices, and the high bandwidth networks required to support them.
Food: We know that to address global food issues, we need to move towards industrialized automated food production with urban vertical farms and lab-grown meat.
Energy: We know that our energy systems are transforming towards renewables, energy storage to address their intermittency, and smart grids.
Currently, GO has two initiatives under the Energy program:
EMCO Energy: EMCO provides competitive electricity, natural gas, and certified green energy rates for residential and commercial consumers in Alberta. The Initiative anchors local capital in our communities by re-investing its profits into researching, developing, commercializing, and integrating new technologies such as energy storage devices necessary for the wide-scale roll-out of renewables. EMCO’s cost-competitive rates are approximately 5-10% lower than those of the major local providers.
By choosing EMCO as your energy provider:
Inverter Design Initiative: GO is working to design and develop high quality, inexpensive technologies that will decrease costs and increase accessibility for renewable energy generation.
The cost of system components is a major impediment to the world-wide roll-out of renewable energy generation technologies, especially in countries that cannot afford them. About a third of the cost of solar photovoltaic energy generation projects is the solar panels, another third is the balance-of-system (BOS) components (the rest of the equipment that is needed in the system), and another third is soft costs – land, labour and financing. A significant portion of the BOS costs are the inverters that are required for converting the solar panel direct-current (DC) electricity output (about 24 VDC) to the alternating-current (AC) electricity (120 VAC in the west and 220 VAC in many other parts of the world) that is transmitted over the grid from generators to consumers, and that is used for powering many items including household electronics.
Microinverter costs are currently ~$0.60/W (for example, Enphase 250 W for converting single panels) and have not shown the price reductions in recent years that solar panels have (per Swanson’s Law). Although string inverters are less expensive per watt (~$0.10/W for 30 kW string inverters) these are not useful for smaller projects. For impoverished countries, the microinverter cost is still an order of magnitude higher than what they can afford.
Interestingly, the acronym for the first 4 programs, logistics, information, food, and energy is LIFE. These are the things that we need to be human beings in our social societies. We use these things in everything that we do: to live, work, play, learn, have fun, be creative. The key to the first three things is energy – to charge electric vehicles, power devices and cool server rooms, to grow food, we need clean, cheap and abundant energy.
Health: We also know that we’re moving towards individualized, automated health solutions with technologies like CRISPR-Cas9. In the future, you will contract a disease or an illness and you’ll go to a clinic. That clinic will sequence the genetic information of the disease or illness, and send that data to a highly automated laboratory. The laboratory will develop a personalized solution for you that will be sent back to your clinic, to be administered by your doctor in a form similar to a flu shot. The genetic therapy will edit the genetic information in the disease to, for instance, get rid of HIV, defects due to cancer, etc. This approach to health care is much different than what we’ve done in the past, historically drugs are developed to treat broad populations in general ways. With automation, we can create personalized health solutions.
Community: GO’s monthly Tech & Social Impact (TSI) Meetings are a collaborative effort between GO and Skunkworks and are held monthly. GO provides pizza and soft drinks to participants discussing community and global issues and potential solutions.
Businesses with Traditional, Emerging and Future Technologies:
GO utilizes an economic model similar to that used by the car manufacturer Tesla when they first created the Roadster, and then used revenues from that to fund future vehicles and ventures. We recognize that traditional businesses are generally low-cost capital to start and can have a high initial return, businesses based on emerging technologies require medium cost capital to start and typically have a medium initial return, and those developing and utilizing future technologies are high-cost capital to start and, at least in the near future, generate low return. GO is developing traditional, emerging tech and future tech businesses for each of the program areas above, and will use revenues from all ventures to invest in the future in the best interests of everyone in our communities.