Blockchain may play a key role in the next 10 years of electricity
“With the broadcast system, you have one person in one station deciding what gets put out over the airwaves. When you have a distributed network, like the internet, everybody can be a server. There’s no distinction between the broadcaster and the receiver: every computer does both. You can take your home laptop and run a server off of it in the same way that the biggest computers at Google can. There’s no fundamental difference between the computers they have in their server rooms and what you have on your desk.” — Aaron Swartz, cofounder of Reddit
Decentralization eventually comes to every industry.
J.D. Rockefeller, the founder of Standard Oil, became the world’s first billionaire in 1916. It wasn’t Andrew Carnegie, the steel magnate, or Cornelius Vanderbilt, the transportation mogul, or J.P. Morgan, the legendary banker. It was Rockefeller. And this was even considering the fact that oil had largely been used only for machinery, medicine, and lighting up to that point, and transportation only came into the mix in the early 1900s.
Oil has since become the most important commodity, ever. In fact, almost every major geopolitical event in the past century can be tied to oil.
It’s 2025, and 800,000 tons of used high strength steel is coming up for auction.
The steel made up the Keystone XL pipeline, finally completed in 2019, two years after the project launched with great fanfare after approval by the Trump administration. The pipeline was built at a cost of about $7 billion, bringing oil from the Canadian tar sands to the US, with a pit stop in the town of Baker, Montana, to pick up US crude from the Bakken formation. At its peak, it carried over 500,000 barrels a day for processing at refineries in Texas and Louisiana.
It wasn’t until after they’d built their clean-burning stove that BioLite co-founders Jonathan Cedar and Alexander Drummond realized it was suited for something other than camping. Many people in India, Uganda, Kenya, and Ghana cook over an open flame. That’s toxic and inefficient. “Four million people are dying every year from smoke inside of their home,” says Cedar. “That should go to zero.” Cedar and Drummond built a stove that uses less than half the fuel and produces 90 percent less toxic emissions than a traditional open fire.
To get their stove to burn wood nearly as clean as gas, the flame needed more oxygen. They employed a thermoelectric generator to convert heat from the fire into electricity. That electricity powered a small fan that pulled in the extra oxygen. The fan didn’t require much power, so the team added an outlet for people to tap into the leftover electricity to charge cellphones or power lights. BioLite believes its stoves can help solve energy poverty. To do so at scale, BioLite employs what it calls parallel innovation. Its camping stoves, solar panels, lighting, and other products generate near-term revenue, which the company reinvests into its emerging markets business to ensure that, over time, it can self-sustain.
Roughly 60 percent of the energy we produce in this country gets wasted. Sure, thermodynamics play a role, but we can increase efficiency through better infrastructure and better energy management. Walker-Miller Energy Services is helping businesses and people in Detroit do the later.
The company provides a broad range of services to help buildings reduce energy usage. By conducting energy audits, it can suggest infrastructure upgrades, design sustainability programs, and provide training to help reduce energy usage.