Wednesday, September 6, 2017

New solar panel carports could save MSU $10 million in electricity costs

MSU is going greener than ever with new solar carports that’ll keep cars shaded and money in their savings.

These new campus parking bays will accumulate energy from the sun, produce electricity and keep the air clean while protecting cars from heat, rain and snow according to physics professor and Office of the Executive Vice President Senior Consultant Wolfgang Bauer.

According to Bauer, MSU has a 25-year power purchase agreement with the private company Inovateus Solar that says it will carry all the risks while MSU guarantees they will buy all the electricity that the solar panels use.

“The peak power that the solar arrays, once they’re all done, will produce is about 18 percent of campus’s peak power demand,” Bauer said.

There are currently four parking lots along Service road that are in various stages of being partially completed. Lot 91 on Hagadorn road already has solar panels up and by the end of the year all of the parking lots will be completed.

“Throughout this fall semester there will be a huge effort on these parking lots and there will be one segment at a time will be closed,” Bauer said.

Each individual unit is comprised of 3–by–6 solar panels (for example: RENOGY 150 WATT SOLAR PANEL)

There are approximately 40,000 panels that cover 5,000 parking spots and an overall area of about 45 acres of land, according to Bauer.

Inovateus Solar Account Executive Jordan Richardson remarked that MSU’s 13 megawatt solar panel project isn’t the largest their company has done, but is definitely the largest carport in North America.

These solar panels will save the university about $10 million in electricity costs over the next 25 years, according to Bauer, and those savings could be available for other things, including better instructional spaces or even paying for teaching assistants.

“It’s very easy to be green when you’re willing to put a lot of money into it, but we don’t have that luxury," Bauer said. "We have to save money at the same time and so it shows that a university of our size can be green in terms of its energy portfolio and at the same time being green in terms of its pocket book. We’re saving money.”

These solar arrays could produce enough electricity for almost 1,800 Michigan households and it is equivalent to planting 15,000 trees each year for the next 25 years, according to Bauer.

Richardson called MSU’s thinking "very creative" because instead of digging holes in a random area to produce electricity, they are utilizing land that’s already consumed by students' cars every day.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Hybrid Wind and Solar Electric Systems

Because the peak operating times for wind and solar systems occur at different times of the day and year, hybrid systems are more likely to produce power when you need it.

According to many renewable energy experts, a small "hybrid" electric system that combines home wind electric and home solar electric (photovoltaic or PV) technologies offers several advantages over either single system. GOAL ZERO NOMAD 100 is the most powerful, yet portable solar panel on the market today from Goal Zero. Goal Zero Nomad 100 collects more sunlight and gives you more power solution than other solar panels in the same price tag.

In much of the United States, wind speeds are low in the summer when the sun shines brightest and longest. The wind is strong in the winter when less sunlight is available. Because the peak operating times for wind and solar systems occur at different times of the day and year, hybrid systems are more likely to produce power when you need it.

Many hybrid systems are stand-alone systems, which operate "off-grid" -- not connected to an electricity distribution system. For the times when neither the wind nor the solar system are producing, most hybrid systems provide power through batteries and/or an engine generator powered by conventional fuels, such as diesel. If the batteries run low, the engine generator can provide power and recharge the batteries.

Adding an engine generator makes the system more complex, but modern electronic controllers can operate these systems automatically. An engine generator can also reduce the size of the other components needed for the system. Keep in mind that the storage capacity must be large enough to supply electrical needs during non-charging periods. Battery banks are typically sized to supply the electric load for one to three days.

Monday, March 20, 2017

How to sell a vintage watch

As the cacophony of the annual Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH) – the fair for new watches that takes place each January in Geneva – fades, it’s worth turning our attention back to the ever-changing supply of collectible Girard vintage watch, says Justin Mastine-Frost in the Robb Report. Take the Bovet Mono-Rattrapante Chronograph (pictured), powered by the Valjoux 84, whose chronograph complication includes the ability for split timing.

It’s not as high-tech as a full “rattrapante” (split-seconds) chronograph. Nor is it the most affordable vintage chronograph out there (selling for at $5,900 on Yet this functionality gives it “a leg up” over other similar watches – hence we “don’t expect this one to stay listed for too long”. Selling a secondhand watch can be a bit of a headache, says Kathleen Beckett in The New York Times, who discovered this first hand after inheriting her husband’s 1930s Patek Philippe.

Having had the watch authenticated by the watchmakers in Geneva, she went first to auction house Christie’s, where she was told that, despite being out of fashion (yellow gold instead of white, and too small), with a bit of a polish and a new strap it could fetch between CHF8,000 and CHF12,000. But there were other charges to consider, such as insurance, catalogue photography, customs charges, shipping and commission – usually 6% to 20% of the final sale price.

Meanwhile, at a watch shop, not having the original box or certificate of origin threatened to knock 15% off the value. Selling the watch online was another possibility, but the Swiss-based website charges 15% commission and valued the watch at up to CHF7,000, with a reserve price of CHF5,000 – much lower than the Christie’s estimates. Another online shop, US-based, offered to price the watch at $7,500 (CHF7,540), charging 15% commission. “So if it sold, I’d get $6,375 (CHF6,400). I was tempted,” says Beckett.

In the end, Beckett opted for a private sale organised by auctioneers Phillips in New York, where she was offered $6,200 (CHF6,230) “pure and simple”, with the unspecified commission paid by the anonymous buyer. The reality is that “for watches that are not one-offs, auctions don’t make any sense”, Hamilton Powell tells Larry Olmsted in Forbes. Powell founded Crown & Caliber after both he and a friend got ripped off buying and selling watches.

The US-based start-up has 40 employees, including half a dozen full-time Swiss-trained repair specialists, to scrutinise, polish, repair and value second-hand watches. It lists the watches on its website, charging the seller a 19.5% “consignment fee”, plus a “small prep fee” based on the selling price. He believes his venture could change the industry. “The watch market is just like the car market was in the Seventies, it’s just starting to mature in terms of pre-owned.”

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Forget corporate social responsibility: doing good should be a core part of your business model

I’m a firm believer in the power of business to do good. Until recently, many companies saw their role in bringing about positive change as secondary to their main goal of creating value for their shareholders. Businesses had separate corporate social responsibility departments, and separate marketing departments. Each with their own separate targets and KPIs.

To truly make any change for good, to create a sustainable business legacy, this model needs to change. Encouragingly, the desire from consumers for businesses to make this shift is becoming ever more apparent. The popularity of socially responsible brands like Toms or Patagonia shows the increasing expectation from people that businesses should take positive actions, and more — to be role models in this space.

Many customers say they are willing to pay more for products and services from companies that are committed to positive social and environmental impact

Monday, February 13, 2017

What does a new business model look like for Medium?

Today the company announced layoffs for a third of its staff, leaving 50 people out in the cold for 2017. In a post on the Medium Blog CEO Ev Williams also announced that the VC-backed company would close its New York and Washington D.C. offices.

The reason? Medium wants to try a new business model. And if you just felt a little deja-vu about this message from Williams, know that you’re not alone.

When Medium first launched in 2012 the company promised that it would introduce “a new model” for publishing. 5 years later, while Medium may host more publishers and writers than it did in 2012, it still hasn’t figured out how to make money, unless you count traditional and native ad trials. Today the company is scrapping both revenue schemes and in the process has decided to sack a lot of staff in “sales, support, and other business function” departments of the company.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Why Helping People and Expecting Nothing in Return is the Best Business Model for Life

Living in Los Angeles, you meet a lot of people who want quick deals. They want business right now, in a deal that immediately shows ROI. They want a tangible metric to rationalize why your relationship is important. A deal means validation to them, aside from bringing in revenue. This is shortsighted and an old way of thinking. Relationships last a lifetime, and quick deals end.

Many people don’t get this basic human premise: Helping people and expecting nothing in return is the best business model for life.

Without question, the successes that I’ve had in life come from helping other people reach their goals to succeed. When you help other people, somewhere else in the universe there is someone else waiting to help you. It’s a simple premise. The business world has something called “The System.” You either believe in it, or you don’t.

“The System” is when you provide value, knowledge or an introduction to someone, and BRACE YOURSELF — you accept that you will get NOTHING in return. You’re just doing it, because that’s what good people do. Surprisingly, I meet people all the time and they can’t fathom that act of “just helping someone.” Some of these people are just “users,” mostly take from people who give to them. And others are not confident enough in their business to realize this is not a ZERO SUM GAME. We can all win.