28 JUL 2019

Will fighting climate change curtail freedom?

The Middle East is facing challenges with access to water, food shortages, and energy security. Every nation faces energy security challenges, but for Middle Eastern nations, environmental considerations make it a more pressing issue. Fortunately, the responsible resolution of the region’s energy security dilemma can significantly alleviate regional shortages of water and food. The region has long been known for its abundant fossil fuel resources, but utilizing those resources for regional energy needs presents challenges. Moreover, as the world transitions to cleaner renewable sources of energy, demand for fossil fuels is expected to wane; despite this, the Middle East is seeing tremendous opportunities to remain a top global energy provider. By working with countries in the Middle East to address current and future energy demands efficiently, cleanly and cost-effectively, Highview Power is determined to play a pivotal role in resolving challenges that transcend industries and impact every person’s life.

Around the world, more and more companies, cities, nations, and regions are committing to transitioning the energy market to one powered by 100 percent renewable energy, and we at Highview Power have made it our mission to facilitate making that vision a reality. Critical to our mission is the strategic deployment of renewable energy assets to regions where they are best suited. For theMiddle East, solar energy is the most appropriate renewable energy source, but it is not without challenges.

The biggest technological hurdle to the complete transition to renewable energy on a global scale is the inherent intermittency of these energy sources. However, when paired with solar, Highview Power’s cryogenic energy storage technology is truly unleashing the power of renewable energies by effectively resolving the intermittency issue and enabling the storage—and later use—of solar energy collected in excess of immediate demand. This proven breakthrough in long-duration energy storage, with the capability to store weeks’ worth of energy instead of mere hours, will have a tremendous impact across industries, regions, and on our future.

For Middle Eastern nations, solar intermittency has not been as significant an issue as the storage of the abundant solar energy collected. Due to increased solar deployments, vast undeveloped sectors in the region, and the fact that the Middle East enjoys more uninterrupted sunshine than nearly any other region on the planet, solar energy is poised to meet an ever larger share of Middle Eastern energy demands. Harnessing that power requires storage capabilities well beyond what is offered by any other existing technology. Highview Power has developed and optimized an energy storage system that is not only bringing about a 100 percent renewable future, but also doing so sustainably, reliably and at grid-scale.

Highview Power’s innovative cryogenic energy storage technology provides clean, long-duration energy storage using liquid air as the storage medium. The system charges by collecting ambient air, which is cleaned, compressed and liquefied by cooling it to -196°C. The charging process compresses 700L of ambient air into 1L of liquid air, which is safely stored in an insulated tank. When power is needed, the liquid air is compressed again and heated, resulting in its expansion back to its original volume. The pressure created in the recovery stage is used to drive a turbine that generates electricity. 
The cryogenic process that Highview Power developed is the only long-duration energy storage system available today that offers multiple gigawatt hours of storage without geographic limitations. It is clean, scalable, deployable at the point of demand, and has the lowest levelized cost of energy for long-duration applications. 

Strategic deployment of energy storage facilities and solar PV systems, especially in areas with disparate population densities, demands flexibility in those assets. Highview Power resolved these scalability concerns through our development of the cryogenic energy storage system. The scalability of the technology makes the system well suited to Middle Eastern nations as it can service both urban centers and remote rural areas effectively. Further, Highview Power’s unique and flexible facility design incorporates proven components from mature industries; the innovation of the technology is in the organization of those components, which provides both reliability and the ability to scale up to multiple gigawatt hours, without limitation. 

With the varied distribution of urban and rural areas in the Middle East – along with regional geographic obstacles – a new paradigm in energy deployment is critical now more than ever. Cryogenic energy storage is deployable where energy is needed most with no geographical constraints. Even with the heterogeneous population density of the Middle East, supplying clean and reliable power where, when, and how it is needed most has never been more achievable. 

For example, several Middle Eastern countries have large percentages of their populations living in rural areas. These same countries generally have significant geographical obstacles that cryogenic energy storage overcomes, delivering clean, reliable energy in locations that best support the integrity of the grid at large. Likewise, deploying this technology in populated urban centers, where grid support and improved security are critical concerns, can achieve all these goals while promoting a healthy environment. Paired with solar PV, cryogenic energy storage has zero emissions and uses only benign materials. Conversely, fossil fuel energy plants consume tremendous amounts of water to cool plant machinery – water resources that many countries can ill-afford to squander.

Evolving the energy resources of Middle Eastern countries not only provides energy security but can also alleviate food and water shortages. Due to the predominately-arid climate of the region and the scarcity of freshwater resources, Middle Eastern nations rely heavily on water desalinization. Unfortunately, nearly half the cost of operating desalinization plants in the Middle East comes from using fossil fuel-based power. The pairing of solar PV with cryogenic energy storage can provide critical support to regional desalinization plants, helping to reduce the cost and expand the availability of water. 

Food shortages in the Middle East – along with the rising cost of food – is primarily the result of water scarcity and desertification. Utilizing cryogenic energy storage to support and reduce the cost of operating desalinization plants can help lift the burden of water scarcity. More abundant freshwater enables more widespread food cultivation, thereby easing the advancement of desertification and reducing the cost of food by curtailing food imports. 

With Highview Power’s cryogenic energy storage technology, a world powered by 100 percent renewables is closer than many believe. In recent years, solar deployments in the Middle East have experienced tremendous growth. Paired with our clean, reliable, long-duration energy storage technology, we can further accelerate the transition to renewable energy. By enabling giga-scale solar power access, cryogenic energy storage can help transcend industries and impact lives in meaningful ways. Long-duration energy storage is the key to the energy transition already underway and Highview Power is playing a pivotal role in it. 

By Dr. Javier Cavada / President and CEO of Highview Power

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28 JUL 2019

Why innovative technology is key to delivering energy access for all?

Meeting the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is still a long way off, in particular SDG 7 – energy access for all. Progress has been made to close the energy access gap but there are still almost 1 billion people without electricity.

BBOXX’s vision is to use innovative technology to tackle this challenge. It is unacceptable that in the 21st century there are still people across the globe without electricity, and many more without reliable access. Electricity is a basic need – and living without it is a major hindrance to achieving a better quality of life and fostering economic development. 

The falling price of solar batteries and storage methods combined with the uptake of mobile money has meant that for the first time clean energy such as pay-as-you-go solar is now cheaper than alternatives in Africa. The conditions are ripe for BBOXX to leapfrog costly traditional infrastructures in favour of smarter solutions. 
Improving lives and unlocking potential through access to energy 

Having established operations in 12 African countries to date, BBOXX has delivered clean, affordable electricity for the first time to nearly one million people, powering the growth of communities and businesses. 

Winning the Zayed Sustainability Prize for Energy in January is testament to the way the company is making a meaningful difference to people’s lives around the world. Funds from the Zayed Sustainability Prize will enable the company to further invest in innovation, scale up and accelerate the roll-out of affordable, clean and reliable energy to previously underserved communities.

BBOXX recognises that electricity is the entry point to other utilities and value-added services that would never have been possible without the prerequisite of electricity. Energy provision creates demand in other areas – such as gas, water, internet and finance – a demand which the company also seek to meet.

To that end, BBOXX has developed cutting-edge products all managed via BBOXX Pulse. Pulse is a comprehensive management platform which allows the company to manage customer service, the maintenance of solar home systems and other key functions across vast and often remote locations. Pulse harnesses data, pioneering technology and machine-learning – all essential to scaling up and providing energy as a service to many more people. 

Contributing to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals

Urgency is required to meet the UN’s SDG global targets for 2030. As a leading next generation utility, BBOXX directly contributes to SGD 7 – ensuring access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all. 

When BBOXX customers switch from kerosene and other fuels to clean energy, this also brings average annual savings of $200 per household. Off-grid solar is not only cheaper for customers than kerosene and traditional fuel alternatives, but also has the added benefits of being safer, healthier, more reliable and better for the environment. Additionally, the systems are available on a pay-as-you-go basis via mobile money, which is best suited to individuals from low income backgrounds as they only pay for what they use. BBOXX has also worked with governments to launch the roll out of subsidies.

It is estimated that oil consumption via traditional kerosene lamps worldwide are responsible for 190 million tonnes of CO2 greenhouse gas per year. BBOXX’s solar home systems are helping to displace more than 86,720 tonnes of CO2 annually. This reduces greenhouse gases and contributes to SDG 13 – combatting climate action. 

In addition, the company contributes to meeting SDG 8 – decent work and economic growth; SDG 9 – industry, innovation and infrastructure; SDG 10 – reduced inequalities; SDG 11 – sustainable cities and communities; and SDG 17 – partnerships for delivering the goals. 
Vision for the future 

BBOXX has bold ambitions to positively transform the lives of even more people and unlock potential across the developing world through access to energy. In order to do so, the business is scaling rapidly by forging strategic partnerships with global telcos, energy firms, investors, governments and technological partners. For example, BBOXX is already working with Orange in West Africa, EDF in Togo and GE in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

BBOXX has also gone a step further in articulating the vision for the future. This year in Sikpe-Afidegnon, a village in Togo, BBOXX launched its community of the future called “Tomorrow’s Connected Community”, alongside EDF, the company’s partner in Togo. This village runs on a micro-grid as well as solar home systems, providing access to a range of utilities including clean cooking solutions, internet services and water pumps. It showcases BBOXX’s complete solution to meeting the developing world’s energy challenges.

While meeting the UN’s SDGs is a huge challenge, BBOXX is convinced that using innovative technology is the key to achieving energy access for all and 100% electrification for the first time in Africa. 

By Mansoor Hamayun, / CEO & Co-Founder of BBOXX

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28 JUL 2019

Community-led transformation: The key to sustainable rural water supply and management

Today, more than 780 million people do not have access to safe drinking water and 2.5 billion do not have access to proper sanitation facilities. Most of these underprivileged live in rural areas. While there are considerable improvements in countries such as China, the overall global situation remains dire. Such low levels of access to safe drinking water in rural areas ultimately affects urban areas negatively due to pollution of water sources, higher healthcare costs and the impact on the food chain, among other factors. 

It is commonly held that the water and sanitation needs in developing countries, especially in rural areas, can only be met by large investments in infrastructure by the public sector and large private utilities companies. However, the low population density and lack of funds cannot limit the reach of conventional centralized water treatment systems and networks. As a result, major technology, business models and funding model innovations will be needed to address this major water, environmental and social issue.

There has a been a major push by governments, aid organizations and multi-lateral institutions to provide water and sanitation services to rural communities in developing countries such as India, which contains the world’s largest population without access to clean water and basic sanitation. 

While the intent of many such initiatives are commendable, the current models suffer from several limitations: 

  • Standalone interventions, such as hand pumps or bore wells without recharge, building of toilets without water supply and management of human waste;
  • Lack of community engagement, mobilization and capacity building, leading to long term maintenance problems;
  • Insufficient deployment of appropriate technology, especially for treatment of contaminated water and wastewater;
  • Inadequate education and social change towards improved sanitation practices, leading to unused or misused toilets;
  • Governance problems in deployment and accountability of funds allocated;
  • Failure to address an important root cause of the problems – lack of livelihood improvement opportunities.

The Community Led Transformation for Water, Sanitation, Wastewater and Livelihoods was started by ECOSOFTT in India. The basic principles of the program are:

  • 100% inclusion: No family or unit is left out;
  • 100% engagement: The whole community has to participate, contribute and work individually and collectively;
  • Self-governance: The community has to take care of their own progress and development with commitment to undertake development work on an ongoing basis;
  • Caste and gender equality: Women and men of different social strata will participate equally and have equal rights;
  • Value-based commitment: Skill-based training and agreement on areas that are non-negotiable for community benefit, such as no open defecation, no pollution and contamination of water sources, involving themselves in open vocational training and improving their livelihoods

CASE STUDY

SILUA VILLAGE, CENTRAL INDIA

 

  • Early Conditions
    Silua Village, with a population of 200 in 36 households, was at the bottom of pyramid. On average, each family lived on less than US$5 per day. The only source of water was a polluted rivulet and scattered hand pumps, which ran dry during the summer. Often, the villagers, especially women, had to spend two to four hours a day fetching (contaminated) water. There were no toilets; everyone practiced open defecation, which contaminated water sources further. 
  • Project Execution
    A Community Led Transformation program was initiated by ECOSOFTT in 2013. The key activities in the project over a nine-month period included:
  • A comprehensive survey of each household, including demographics, employment and income level, education, health, access to energy, water and sanitation;
  • Engagement and buy-in from village elders;
  • Development of model toilets;
  • A written agreement signed by the head of each household to participate in the program;
  • Collection of INR1,000 (US$15) per household towards a village corpus fund that was managed by the village itself;
  • Training of villagers to build and maintain the system;
  • Design and supervision of construction of water tank, toilets and mini-network

 

  • Results

The project provided critical and sustainable access to water and sanitation for Silua Village. In tangible terms, the following were delivered:

  • Clean water supply through local bore well to each person at 75 litres per capita per day;
  • One toilet and bathing room for each of the 36 households;
  • A wastewater treatment system that enables ground water recharge and nutrient recovery for sustainable eco-friendly development;
  • Improved livelihood opportunities for villagers through vocational training for young men and women;
  • A village council with full gender and caste equality that takes charge of governance and infrastructure maintenance;
  • Personal hygiene, health, menstrual health, nutrition, education and well-being awareness through partnerships with other NGOs.

The approach to water management and sanitation is also holistic and integrated, with management of "Source to Source" by sustainable extraction of water, and recharge of groundwater through treatment technology based on nature-based principles.

As demonstrated by the villagers in Silua, the integrated and sustainability-driven approach to Water, Sanitation, Wastewater and Livelihoods is the key to success in rural water management. It dispels the myth that rural communities are unwilling and unable to contribute financially for their water needs. Silua has become a model village and the villagers’ lives have been transformed, while there is now recognition from aid organizations, local and state government to scale up the model.

In addition to project funding, it is implementation capacity that will become the imperative to scale up this successful model across India and other developing countries. Given the massive needs, more participants from all sectors, including corporates, individuals, students and last-mile entrepreneurs will be needed in this movement.

By Marcus Lim and Stanley Samuel / Co-founders of ECOSOFTT

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20 AUG 2019

The Future of Healthcare

Globally and in the region, the healthcare sector is being transformed by a number of dynamic trends, including digitalization, personalization and internationalization. It’s truly one of the most exciting times to be a caregiver, as new technologies enable us to offer care to more patients wherever they are and whenever they need it. 

It is important to understand, however, that the full benefit of these innovations can only be delivered by focusing on the human factors that underwrite them, and – like all industries – that healthcare has a responsibility to deploy new technologies in a sustainable manner. 

Transforming Healthcare Delivery through Digitalization 

Digital platforms will play a much greater role in the future, supporting the work of primary care physicians and family practices. In terms of speed of response, telemedicine is already helping patients in Abu Dhabi, ensuring they are able to consult experienced physicians from home, and book appointments as required. 

These platforms are being supported by online systems that aggregate and analyze medical data earlier and more effectively. A great example of this is the online IT system we deploy at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi to help detect heart problems. The system collects data from pacemakers and other implantable cardiac devices from anywhere in the UAE and sends alerts to doctors when it detects that patients could be experiencing rhythmic disturbances of the heart. The data is aggregated to track patterns over time and accessed by doctors using their mobile devices.

When combined with new technologies, such as blockchain and Artificial Intelligence (AI), the possibilities are almost limitless.  AI is already being used to detect diseases, like cancer, more accurately and at earlier stages. For example, the use of AI in the review of mammograms is delivering results 30 times faster and with 99% accuracy, reducing the need for unnecessary biopsies, according to the American Cancer Society. If applied to reviewing data from consumer wearables, AI could provide a vital overview of population health, enabling doctors to address community health issues at an earlier, more treatable stage. 

Even in the field of surgery, new technologies are having a transformational impact. Robotics enable surgeons to enter any part of the body through tiny incisions, reducing the invasiveness of the surgery and subsequently the recovery time that patients need. Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi is at the forefront of robotic surgery, particularly in cardiac care. The most exciting potential future application of robotic surgery would be the opportunity to perform operations at a distance. Patients could receive the support of a world-class surgeon in a different hospital or even a different country.

Applying a ‘Team of Teams’ Approach 

Delivering the full benefits of these new innovations will require healthcare organizations to rethink their traditional methods of organization. Healthcare is traditionally siloed into departments, which creates limiting barriers for the potential to share knowledge and collaborate. We need to move towards a model where care is delivered through the coordinated efforts of diverse professionals with complementary qualifications, enabled by technology.

This is the most important differentiator for Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, where our model of care is organized around a ‘team of teams’ approach. Every patient who comes to the hospital is cared for by a team of providers, enabling us to address the most complex issues.

Building Sustainability into an Innovation Strategy 

As a leader in the healthcare industry, Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi understands that climate change is a risk to the health of our communities, as well as to our organization. As a result, sustainability has to be at the heart of every innovation strategy. This means that it is essential for any new initiatives to be assessed from an environmental, social and economic impact perspective – as well as for the potential health benefits. 

Of course, new technologies also enable us to manage our environmental impact. At Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, we deploy a greenhouse gas tool to quantify and exhaustively log the exact amounts of greenhouse gas emissions the hospital produces, as part of the effort to reduce carbon emissions. We have also started a food waste dehydration program that converts food waste into an organic byproduct, which is used to produce compost for the hospital’s landscapes and gardens.

By coupling new models of care with new technologies, healthcare organizations will be able to offer greater personalization in treatment plans and delivery. In addition, they will be able to tap into an international network of experts, ensuring that patient cases are reviewed by leading specialists in their field, no matter where they are in the world.

Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi is already deploying an integrated, international healthcare network to ensure that our patients have access to 57,000 of the most sophisticated and connected medical minds in the world. Working together, we believe the healthcare industry of the future will be able to tackle even the most challenging issues of our time. 

By Dr. Rakesh Suri / CEO, Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi