Blogs

More Affordable Wind Power for Virginia

The Virginian-Pilot reported on April 24, 2015 that Dominion Virginia Power is putting its offshore wind power plans for Virginia Beach on hold due to unexpectedly high costs.

 

While Dominion had estimated the cost of the project, including two wind turbines, at $230 million, the Virginian-Pilot reports that the only bid that was submitted had an estimated cost of $375-400 million, an amount that a Dominion spokesman said would be hard to justify.  This development was especially disappointing in light of the $47 million grant the project received from the Department of Energy last year as part of an effort to get wind power off the ground in Virginia.  

 

Dominion and the Virginia Offshore Wind Development Authority are now forming a group that will look for ways to reduce the project’s cost so that it can move forward.  This project and others like it around the Commonwealth could be made more cost-effective through the exploration of public domain technology options and knowledge disclosures.  

 

The Global Innovation Commons (GIC) has compiled sets of public domain patents that are available for anyone to use in the United States under the GIC framework.  There are over 5,300 public domain patents related to Wind Power Generation that can be accessed through the GIC.

 

Visit the GIC site to view public domain patent sets for many other sources of Clean Energy and other areas of interest by country.

 

Sources:

Applegate, Aaron. "Dominion: Offshore wind turbines too expensive." The Virginian-Pilot. 24 April, 2015. Web.http://hamptonroads.com/2015/04/dominion-offshore-wind-turbines-too-expensive

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Desert Agriculture in the Navajo Nation

As of April 1, 2015, the Navajo Nation Council instituted an extra 2-cent sales tax on junk food and sugary drinks within the borders of its sovereign territory, the largest reservation in the U.S., which extends across parts of Arizona, Utah, and New Mexico.  The tax, put in place as the Healthy Diné Nation Act, is intended to discourage consumption of foods without nutritional value and in turn make healthy foods like whole fruits and vegetables more affordable.  The Council plans to spend the revenue raised from the new tax on health and wellness programs.

 

The Navajo Nation meets the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) definition of a food desert, an area in which a combination of factors leaves many residents with low or no access to supermarkets or grocery stores.  Most of the Nation’s territory is also a literal desert, with climate conditions that make growing food locally difficult.  Initiatives by the Diné Community Advocacy Alliance and other Navajo groups to increase home and community gardening activity could boost their effectiveness by incorporating technologies designed for growing in harsh environments. 

 

The Global Innovation Commons (GIC) has compiled sets of public domain patents related to aspects of Agriculture including Biodigesters, Fertilizer, Drought Resistant Technology, Irrigation, and Soil Management which can aid growing efforts in arid climates.  All of the patents in these GIC sets are public domain and free for anyone to use in the United States and within the sovereign territory of federally-recognized Nations.  The precise extent of U.S. patent protections to sovereign Nations is not entirely clear.  Several federal court cases have decided that Nations enjoy sovereign immunity from private patent infringement suits; however, all patents in our GIC sets carry no risk of infringement litigation, regardless of what type of party owns them.

 

Visit the GIC site to see all of the technology categories for Agriculture sorted by country and discover what technologies are public domain in your area of interest.

 

Sources:

Agricultural Marketing Service. “Food Deserts.” United States Department of Agriculture. http://apps.ams.usda.gov/fooddeserts/fooddeserts.aspx

Barclay, Eliza. “Navajos Fight Their Food Desert With Junk Food And Soda Taxes.” The Salt. NPR. 1 April 2015. Web. http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2015/04/01/396607690/navajos-fight-their-food-desert-with-junk-food-and-soda-taxes

Sobaje, Justin. “Native American Tribes Immune From Patent Infringement Suits.”18 December 2013. IP Litigation Current. Web. http://www.iplitigationcurrent.com/2013/12/18/indian-tribes-immune-from-patent-infringement-suits/

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Clean Energy Alternatives for the Caribbean

On April 9, 2015, President Obama met with the leaders of several Caribbean nations in Jamaica, where he announced the Clean Energy Finance Facility for the Caribbean and Central America (CEFF-CCA), a new $20 million funding initiative for green energy production in the region.  As a joint initiative of the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA), the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and the U.S. Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), the CEFF-CCA aims to draw private and public investment to regional green energy projects with the promise of financial returns.

 

The Caribbean island nations have long relied on oil imports from Venezuela as their main source of energy.  Meanwhile, Jamaica has been ordered to decrease the cost of energy in the country by 30% in just three years as a condition of a loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).  This imposition comes at the worst possible time for Jamaica, as oil prices on the island are likely to increase as the supply from Venezuela diminishes in response to falling prices globally.  Still, lowering energy costs is also a long-term strategic goal of Jamaica’s government, which in 2009 laid out a vision for the nation’s energy sector as one which “provides affordable energy supplies to all consumers” and “is environmentally sustainable.”

 

The government and people of Jamaica can realize their energy goals at a lower cost by taking advantage of the abundance of green energy knowledge that exists in the public domain.  The Global Innovation Commons (GIC) has compiled sets of public domain innovation on various sources of Clean Energy.  For Jamaica, our sets include over 10,300 patents covering aspects of Solar Energy, over 8,500 on Wind Power Generation, and over 3,700 on Tidal Power Generation, all of which are particularly appropriate for Jamaica’s climate and geography.  All of these patents are public domain knowledge disclosures which are available for free use by anyone in Jamaica. 

 

Visit the GIC site to view these and our other Clean Energy sets by country to discover what is in the public domain in your region of interest.

 

 

Sources:

 

“FACT SHEET: U.S.-CARICOM Summit – Deepening Energy Cooperation.” Office of the Press Secretary. The White House. 9 April, 2015. Web.

https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2015/04/09/fact-sheet-us-caricom-summit-deepening-energy-cooperation

 

“Jamaica’s National Energy Policy 2009-2030.” Ministry of Energy and Mining. Government of Jamaica. October 2009. Web.

http://ocs.mona.uwi.edu/public/conferences/12/schedConfs/11/energyPolicyOctober212009.pdf

 

“Obama Offers $20 Million in Energy Aid to Caribbean Nations.” Vyas, Keja. The Wall Street Journal. 9 April, 2015. Web.

http://www.wsj.com/articles/obama-offers-20-million-in-energy-aid-to-caribbean-nations-1428623012

 

“OPIC to play key role in new Caribbean clean energy program.” Overseas Private Investment Corporation. The OPIC Blog. 10 April, 2015. Web.        

https://www.opic.gov/blog/renewables/opic-to-play-key-role-in-new-caribbean-clean-energy-program

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Treating Drug-Resistant Malaria in Southeast Asia

On February 20, 2015, NPR News reported on a recent study conducted by doctors at the Mahidol-Oxford Tropical Medicine Research Unit in Bangkok.  The study discovered an increasing incidence of malaria resistant to artemisinins, an important class of antimalarial drugs.  

 

The study focused on Burma (Myanmar), but this type of drug resistance has been detected in several countries in Southeast Asia.  NPR’s Jason Beaubien reports that a major concern is the proximity of these drug-resistant strains to India, where widespread resistance to artemisinins would pose a serious challenge to the effectiveness of currently-available malaria treatments.

 

The potential impact of artemisinin resistance is not yet fully apparent because the drug is often used in conjunction with other drugs in artemisinin combination therapies (ACTs).  Longer-term efforts to mitigate resistance will require the development of new alternative drugs. In a recent Q&A, the World Health Organization stated that “the spread or independent emergence of artemisinin resistance in other parts of the world could pose a major health security risk as no alternative antimalarial medicine is available at present with the same level of efficacy and tolerability as ACTs.”

 

The Global Innovation Commons has compiled repositories of public domain innovation containing knowledge that may be useful in exploring alternative antimalarial therapies for Southeast Asian nations experiencing artemisinin resistance.  The information contained within these disclosures is in the public domain in the countries of interest and open for use by anyone under the Global Innovation Commons framework.  Our sets include over 2,000 public domain patents related to malaria treatment and prevention in each of Burma (Myanmar), Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, and Vietnam.

 

You can view all of the GIC sets on Malaria by country here: http://www.globalinnovationcommons.org/discover/subcategory/malaria

 

Sources:

Beaubien, Jason. “The World Could Be On The Verge Of Losing A Powerful Malaria Drug.” NPR News. 20 Feb. 2015. http://www.npr.org/blogs/goatsandsoda/2015/02/20/387533918/the-world-could-be-on-the-verge-of-losing-a-powerful-malaria-drug

World Health Organization. “Q&A on artemisinin resistance.” February 2015. http://www.who.int/malaria/media/artemisinin_resistance_qa/en/

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Farming and Foreign Aid in Haiti

Last fall, over 20 film directors participated in the short film initiative “WE THE ECONOMY,” a series of bite-sized looks at common but important questions people have about economics. 

 

One of these films, The Foreign Aid Paradox, created by Rachel Grady and Heidi Ewing, took on the subject of how the United States provides humanitarian aid to other countries.  Grady and Ewing’s film highlights the example of Haiti, which between January, 2010, when the country experienced a massive earthquake, and September, 2014 had received over $3 billion in aid from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) alone.

 

Grady and Ewing interview Haitian farmers who express a desire for aid that includes capacity building, like improved farming tools, rather than the current model, which Haitian Deputy Minister of Agriculture Michel Chancy calls the “dumping” of surplus US food commodities into Haiti.  Although the effects of the 2010 earthquake have threatened Haiti’s food security, the food aid the country has received is only a short-term solution to hunger.  

 

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) cites damaged and overworked irrigation systems and lost supplies of seed as major causes of Haiti’s current food insecurity.  To not only rebuild but develop its agricultural capacities beyond pre-earthquake levels, Haiti needs access to knowledge and technology.  Fortunately, the nation already has that access through the public domain patent repositories of the Global Innovation Commons (GIC).  

 

The GIC has identified over 2,500 patents related to Irrigation technologies that have no legal protection in Haiti.  Over 250 patents covering technologies for Erosion Control and Management, a major concern in Haiti, have no legal protection there.  Additionally, the patent portfolios of multinational agriculture firms contain many assets related to seed with desirable traits, including flood resistance.  For example, Monsanto holds over 420 patents without protection in Haiti on submergence resistance genes for plants including corn, an important food crop in Haiti.

 

Follow these links to view the complete GIC sets by country for technologies related to:

 

Irrigation – http://www.globalinnovationcommons.org/discover/subcategory/irrigation

 

Erosion Control – http://www.globalinnovationcommons.org/discover/subcategory/erosion-control

 

Erosion Management – http://www.globalinnovationcommons.org/discover/subcategory/erosion-management

 

 

Sources:

Grady, Rachel and Heidi Ewing. The Foreign Aid Paradox.WE THE ECONOMY.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zwN5dbMMkv4

United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. “Haiti earthquake 2010.” FAO in emergencies.  http://www.fao.org/emergencies/crisis/haiti-earthquake-2010/en/

United States Agency for International Development. “Fact Sheet: U.S. Assistant to Haiti Overview for 2010-2015.”  http://www.usaid.gov/news-information/fact-sheets/us-assistance-haiti-overview-2010-2015-december-2014

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Off-grid Solar Power in Rural India

From February 15-17, 2015, India’s Ministry of New and Renewable Energy hosted the first Renewable Energy Global Investors Meet & Expo (RE-Invest) in New Delhi.  The event is part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s plan to dramatically increase renewable energy investments in India, setting a target of $100 billion to be invested in solar power alone by the year 2022.  The government hopes to increase the nation’s solar capacity to over 10% of its total energy production in order to provide power to more citizens and reduce dependence on coal and other polluting and non-renewable fossil fuels.

 

NPR News also reported on February 17 that India’s large rural population, living in small towns and villages not connected to electric grids, sees solar as a key component of its energy future.  Where electricity is unavailable, residents most often rely on burning wood, kerosene, or biomass for light and vital tasks like cooking.  The fumes from these materials are harmful to both the environment and to people, causing major health problems among those exposed to them over time.  Solar has become a popular alternative option for those rural residents who can get photovoltaic panels or products like SELCO Solar India’s $200 solar generator.  

 

The Global Innovation Commons (GIC) contains repositories of public domain innovation that can contribute to India’s quest to be producing at least 100,000 megawatts of solar power just seven years from now.  The GIC has recorded nearly 9,500 patents with no legal protection in India which contain knowledge useful for developing and implementing solar energy technologies.  These technologies are public domain and open for anyone to use in India under the terms of the GIC framework.

 

View the GIC’s sets on Solar energy by country here:  http://www.globalinnovationcommons.org/discover/subcategory/solar

 

In light of the RE-Invest expo, SELCO Solar India’s chairman, Dr. H Harish Hande, told NPR’s Julie McCarthy in an interview that “India’s rural poor are not looking for sympathy; they are looking for a partner.”  The Global Innovation Commons makes transformative technologies accessible by connecting abundances of knowledge with people around the world who seek to solve problems of scarcity.  Working under this framework, anyone can be a partner to anyone worldwide.

 

Sources:

Busvine, Douglas and Tom Hogue, ed. “India’s Modi raises solar investment target to $100 bln by 2022.” Reuters. 2 Jan. 2015. http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/01/02/india-solar-idUSL3N0UG13H20150102

McCarthy, Julie. “Solar Energy May Light The Way For Villagers Not On India’s Grid.” NPR News. 17 Feb. 2015. http://www.npr.org/2015/02/17/386876116/solar-energy-may-light-the-way-for-villagers-not-on-india-s-electric-grid

Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, Government of India. “About RE-Invest 2015.” RE-Invest. http://www.re-invest.in/Content.aspx?Id=6

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Ebola and Hunger in West Africa

On February 12, 2015, the World Bank Group announced $15 million in financing to supply record amounts of staple crop seed and fertilizer to the nations most heavily affected by the recent ebola virus outbreak: Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia.  The funds will come from grants supplied by the World Bank Group’s International Development Association (IDA) and its Ebola Recovery and Reconstruction Trust Fund. 

 

The ebola epidemic has impacted food security, as many affected rural communities have struggled to keep up with growing and harvesting schedules.  The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has estimated that nearly half a million people in Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia will be food insecure by the end of March, 2015.  Meanwhile, the number of ebola cases in these countries has continued to rise, with over 260 new confirmed cases since the beginning of February. 

 

The World Bank’s press release states that the grants will “help lay the foundations for sustained recovery.”  Long-run, transformative efforts to improve public health and food security must include locally-driven implementation of the publicly-available knowledge contained in the Commons.  Tapping into public domain innovation allows for significant cost savings compared to purchasing solutions from markets in which those technologies are protected by intellectual property (IP) enclosure systems.

 

The Global Innovation Commons contains repositories of public domain innovation with the potential to have a transformative effect on West Africa’s ability to manage disease and food security crises.  The GIC has assembled sets of public domain innovation covering a variety of technologies useful in global agriculture, including conventional and organic fertilizers, biodigesters which can be used to convert agricultural waste into compost or fertilizer, drought-resistant growing aids, herbicides and fungicides, and pest control technologies.

 

View all of our GIC sets for Agriculture by country here:  http://www.globalinnovationcommons.org/discover/category/agriculture

 

Opportunities to contribute to the research, development, and implementation of ebola therapies and vaccines exist in the patent portfolios of multinational pharmaceutical firms, university research foundations, and private research labs.  Over 3,700 pieces of innovation useful in ebola treatment research exist with no legal protection in Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, and the rest of the African continent, making them available for use by the public in those jurisdictions.

 

Sources:

World Bank. “New World Bank Group Push to Revive Agriculture, Avert Hunger for over One Million People at Risk in Ebola-hit Countries.” 12 Feb. 2015. http://www.worldbank.org/en/news/press-release/2015/02/12/world-bank-group-revive-agriculture-avert-hunger-one-million-people-risk-ebola-countries

World Health Organization. “Ebola Situation reports.” 11 Feb. 2015. http://apps.who.int/ebola/en/current-situation/ebola-situation-report

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The Transformative Power of the Commons

On February 11, 2015, NPR News highlighted a report issued by Lawrence Berkley National Lab’s Institute for Globally Transformative Technologies.  The report lists 51 technology “breakthroughs” that the authors believe would have the greatest impact on the lives of people in marginalized regions of the world, with a focus on south Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. 

 

In addition to identifying these technologies, the Institute analyzed the feasibility of implementing each one by considering factors such as the role of public policy, access to financing, infrastructure, distribution channels, and existing business models.  The authors of the report see the attractiveness to investors in industrialized markets of commercializing these technologies as a key consideration in their estimated deployment timelines.  Because of this, they identify philanthropic grants as the only possible source of funding for some of the 51 technologies.

 

Here at the Global Innovation Commons (GIC), we seek to align abundance with need through the equitably-accessible reservoir of human ingenuity that is the Commons.  By recognizing abundance in the form of innovation where it is already open for use, we can shift the paradigms of technology deployment and global “development”.

 

The GIC has assembled sets of public domain innovation relevant to a number of the report’s 51 listed breakthroughs, including:

 

  •      “A new method for desalination: scalable, low cost, and using renewable energy;
  •       Vaccines that can effectively control and eventually help eradicate the major infectious diseases of our time—HIV/AIDS, Malaria and TB;
  •      New methods to produce fertilizers to replace current processes, which are extremely capital intensive and have significant environmental footprints;
  •       Affordable herbicides or other mechanisms to control weeds, ideally ones that are more environmentally friendly than herbicides currently on the market;
  •      New seed varieties that are tolerant to drought, heat, and other emerging environmental stresses;
  •       Suite of solar photovoltaic mini-grid components, to significantly reduce upfront costs;
  •      Low cost (under $500) transport for families, ideally using renewable energy.”

 

Follow these links to view the full GIC sets by country:

 

Renewable Power Desalination -http://www.globalinnovationcommons.org/discover/subcategory/renewable-power-desalination

 

Malaria - http://www.globalinnovationcommons.org/discover/subcategory/malaria

 

Fertilizer - http://www.globalinnovationcommons.org/discover/subcategory/fertilizer

 

Herbicides/Fungicides -http://www.globalinnovationcommons.org/discover/subcategory/herbicidesfungicides

 

Drought Resistant Technology -http://www.globalinnovationcommons.org/discover/subcategory/drought-resistant-technology

 

Solar energy - http://www.globalinnovationcommons.org/discover/subcategory/solar

 

 

Be sure to visit our homepage at http://www.globalinnovationcommons.org/ to explore the full breadth of the four GIC Categories.

 

 

Sources:

 

National Public Radio. “The 50 Most Effective Ways To Transform The Developing

World.” Morning Edition. 11 Feb. 2015.http://www.npr.org/blogs/goatsandsoda/2015/02/11/385396431/the-50-most-effective-ways-to-transform-the-developing-world

 

LIGTT, 2014. 50 Breakthroughs: Critical Scientific and Technological Advances Needed

for Sustainable Global Development. LBNL Institute for Globally Transformative Technologies, Berkeley, CA, USA. https://ligtt.org/sites/all/files/page/50BTs-List.pdf

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Energy Diversification in Zambia

A recent report by BBC News highlighted the threat to energy security in the southern African nation of Zambia posed by structural instability at its aging Kariba Dam.  The dam, constructed in 1959 to capture hydro power from the Zambezi River, is a key source of electricity for both Zambia and neighboring Zimbabwe. 

 

Partson Mbiri of the Zambezi River Authority told the BBC that the dam’s spill gates are in need of maintenance and that the costs of a potential structural failure would be disastrous.  Although Zambia’s government has allocated funds for the repair of the Kariba spill gates, Mbiri emphasizes that the nation’s energy future cannot depend on the dam alone and must diversify.  This is an especially pressing concern in the face of the effects of climate change, which can cause instability in water levels and thus in the amount of hydroelectric power production.

 

The GIC has compiled sets of public domain innovation related to a number of renewable energy sources.  For Zambia’s geography and climate, solar and wind power would be advantageous ways for the country to diversify its energy sources by aligning its natural abundances with its needs.

 

The GIC set on Solar energy contains over 10,300 pieces of public domain innovation in Zambia, while the set on Wind Power Generation reveals that over 8,500 documents describing the relevant technologies have no legal protection in Zambia.

 

View the complete GIC sets on Solar and Wind energy by country here:

 

http://www.globalinnovationcommons.org/discover/subcategory/solar

 

http://www.globalinnovationcommons.org/discover/subcategory/wind-power-generation

 

Sources:

 

BBC News. “Weak Kariba Dam walls threaten Zambia’s energy security.” 16 Jan. 2015.

http://www.bbc.com/news/business-30850591

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Solar Energy and Sustainable Desalination in the Middle East

The recent World Future Energy Summit (WFES) and International Water Summit (IWS), both held from January 19-22 in Abu Dhabi as part of the city’s Sustainability Week, highlighted the Middle East region’s growing need for environmentally-sustainable methods of water desalination to provide clean water to growing populations.  

 

The Gulf Cooperation Council, an intergovernmental body which includes the United Arab Emirates, reiterated its plans to invest over $300 billion in water sustainability through the year 2022.  In his keynote speech at WFES, Dr. Ahmad Belhoul, CEO of Masdar, Abu Dhabi’s state-owned renewable energy company, emphasized the region’s urgent need to increase access to a wide variety of renewable energy sources.  

 

Traditional methods of desalination are highly energy intensive and contribute to rising carbon emissions, forcing countries to choose between clean water and a clean environment.  As Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week highlights, this is a choice which the Middle East will no longer consider.  The region has a unique opportunity to align its abundant solar energy resources with its need for a sustainable and green source of clean water. 

 

The GIC has compiled sets of public domain innovation on a variety of solar energy technologies.  Over 9,500 pieces of innovation on this topic have no legal protection in the UAE.  The GIC also has sets on water desalination methods using renewable sources of power.  Over 11,800 pieces of public domain innovation relating to these technologies exist for the UAE.  

 

View the complete GIC sets for Solar energy and Renewable Power Desalination by country here:  http://www.globalinnovationcommons.org/discover/subcategory/solar

http://www.globalinnovationcommons.org/discover/subcategory/renewable-power-desalination

 

 

Sources:

 

International Water Summit. “Synopsis.” http://iwsabudhabi.com/Portal/summit/synopsis.aspx

 

World Future Energy Summit. “Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week to Highlight Growth in Solar-Powered Water Desalination.” http://www.worldfutureenergysummit.com/Portal/news/31/12/2014/abu-dhabi-sustainability-week-to-highlight-growth-in-solar-powered-water-desalination.aspx

 

World Future Energy Summit. “Masdar CEO Stresses the Commercial Viability of Renewable Energy as a Critical Technology to Meet Rising Global Energy Demand.” http://www.worldfutureenergysummit.com/Portal/news/21/1/2015/masdar-ceo-stresses-the-commercial-viability-of-renewable-energy-as-a-critical-technology-to-meet-rising-global-energy-demand.aspx

 

 

 

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