News Article | April 21, 2017
"The fastest-growing occupation in the United States — by a long shot, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics — might surprise you: wind turbine technician. The number of workers maintaining wind turbines, a job with a median pay of about $51,000 a year, is set to more than double between 2014 and 2024, the agency estimates. That’s a more rapid growth rate than that of physical therapists, financial advisers, home health aides and genetic counselors. There’s a notable caveat, of course. Because “wind tech” remains a small occupation, its rapid projected growth will probably amount to only about 5,000 additional jobs in the coming years. Even so, the proliferation of wind turbine technicians hints at a larger reality: The U.S. wind industry, like renewable energy in general, is continuing to flourish."
News Article | April 17, 2017
The US dollar has been weak recently, falling some 2.5% over the last two weeks, and providing a great opportunity to invest in precious metals. As the central thesis for an emerging precious metals bull market revolves around an increased awareness by world citizens that the currencies they hold as savings are intrinsically worthless, any time we see significant weakness in a major currency we must place our attention there. And when the currency in question is the US dollar – the world’s reserve currency – the examination becomes even more prescient. The US dollar has been weak recently, falling some 2.5% over the last two weeks. Suffice it to say, investors are having doubts that President Trump will be able to deliver on the promises of lowering taxes, increasing infrastructure spending, all while lowering the deficit. Even more so, US dollar fundamentals are already “baked into the cake”, by which we mean this is the first time in world history that not a single currency is backed by anything tangible. As a result, world debt levels are at unprecedented highs, and the democratic system itself seems to dictate that politicians continue to print money to fund never-ending promises to their constituents. Alexander Tytler, a Scottish judge from the 18th century, summarized it succinctly, and we cannot disagree with him regarding the unsustainability of such a system: “A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government. A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover that they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse due to loose fiscal policy, which is always followed by a dictatorship.” We can see evidence for the continued debasement of the US currency all around. The most recent Consumer Price Index data (CPI), released by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) a week ago, shows continued debasement in the form of a 2.7% annualized inflation rate across all items (red highlight circle). This means the value of money is declining by 2.7% per year – even above the Federal Reserve’s self-imposed mandate of a 2.0% inflation. While 2.7% per year might seem trivial, consider that 10-year Treasuries are yielding less than 2.4% per year, and a saver in a high-yield savings account would be lucky to earn 1.0% per year. These are negative real interest rates. [A side note: entire books have been written on the inaccuracies in the BLS’s CPI statistics – in other words, the inflation statistics are generally under-reported. We do not disagree with these claims. For example, the BLS uses what is called ‘substitution’ in their methodology – meaning that if the price of wheat rises by a high amount due to inflation, the BLS will perform a substitution by assuming the average family will instead consume corn. In this way they will leave out the price increase of wheat from the CPI statistics. This largely defeats the purpose of the CPI, which was originally designed to measure the price level of a stable basket of goods. Despite these flaws, the CPI is widely-discussed in the mainstream press, and it gives us at minimum an understated-baseline measure of inflation with which to examine trends.] Further, a 2.7% inflation rate, compounded, means the currency in question will end up losing half of its value every 26 years. So for a saver in US dollars, the Federal Reserve takes 50% of one’s purchasing power every generation through excessive printing of the currency. We see further evidence for the relentless inflation through the Fed’s own data on M2 money stock. M2 is one of several metrics used by economists to measure the total quantity of dollars in existence, and it includes physical cash and coins, checking accounts, savings accounts, and money market accounts. It is the broadest measure of money that is currently published by the Fed. [Side note: an even broader measure of money supply, M3, was published by the Fed up until 2006. M3 included all of M2’s components, plus institutional accounts. The Fed stopped publishing M3 in 2006 claiming the costs were too high to compile and publish the data. This – from an agency that literally owns a printing press and can create money at will.] The fact remains that we live in a world in which monetary debasement is relentless by central banks, and this has never happened on a worldwide basis in history. In past inflationary periods, for example Germany during the Weimar hyperinflation of the 1920’s, citizens could protect themselves from rampant money printing by holding US dollars, which were backed and redeemable for 1/20 an ounce of gold at that time. Presently, not a single currency is backed by anything tangible, and most central banks are engaged in similar policies as the Fed. The only place to turn if one desires to save hard money over time is precious metals. The truth is, if we lived during a time of stable monetary systems, we would not want to invest in precious metals per-se. Precious metals would be money, or money would be backed by precious metals in redeemable form. One would thus hold precious metals as stable-value savings. When an appropriate growth investment opportunity came about (such as a business, stocks, real estate, etc.), one would have the savings set aside and ready to invest. When he wanted to sell the investment, he would then convert it back into stable-value savings – precious metals. But we don’t live in a world of stable values – we live in a world of consistently debased currencies. This presents one of the major challenges of our generation, but also one of the biggest opportunities. Opportunity – Is There Anybody Out There? Opportunity arises when an individual sees something that the majority does not or cannot see. In the markets, we must have an opinion that is different from the sum of the other participants in order to make a profit. If there was no difference in opinion between us and the market, there would be no opportunity for profit. The opportunity to invest and to make a real return by ownership of precious metals exists because the majority of the world’s population does not yet recognize the unprecedented nature of the worldwide fiat system. We can confirm this general lack of awareness by simple conversations with those in other communities. Step aside from any internet-based investment communities you may be involved with – and ask the average person you meet at a coffee shop or the grocery store or a bar if they have decided to allocate any savings to precious metals – the answer will almost always be “no.” Most western citizens do not even know that it is possible to own precious metals, let alone understand the relative merits of gold versus silver, various bullion products, or numismatics. The point of this is that we must periodically disassociate ourselves from the niche communities we all participate in, and ask the question: “Do the majority agree or disagree with us on the merits of owning physical precious metals versus fiat currency?” [If you can honestly answer that the majority of people agree with you and do own precious metals, please send a message to the editor, because I would like to know where this community is located. –C.A.] Otherwise – as contrarians – we should celebrate the fact that very few people in western society see the value in holding precious metals, for herein lies the opportunity. The opportunity exists because we disagree with the market at current prices. And if a small percentage of western citizens begin to agree with us – and then divert a portion of their savings into either gold or silver – the values of the metals will be forced upward by a factor of several multiples. There simply is not enough physical metal available for every household to move a portion of its assets into either physical gold or silver at today’s prices. Christopher Aaron has been trading in the commodity and financial markets since the early 2000's. He began his career as an intelligence analyst for the Central Intelligence Agency, where he specialized in the creation and interpretation of the pattern of life mapping in Afghanistan and Iraq. Technical analysis shares many similarities with mapping: both are based on the observations of repeating and imbedded patterns in human nature. His strategy of blending behavioral and technical analysis has helped him and his clients to identify both long-term market cycles and short-term opportunities for profit.
News Article | April 28, 2017
According to a new multicenter study, nearly half of previously employed adult survivors of acute respiratory distress syndrome were jobless one year after hospital discharge, and are estimated to have lost an average of $27,000 in earnings. A summary of the research was published on April 28 in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine. Acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) is a lung condition often caused by severe infection or trauma, and marked by fluid build up in the lungs' air sacs. The resulting damage leads to a substantial decrease in oxygen reaching the bloodstream and rapidly developing difficulty with breathing. Patients are usually hospitalized and placed on a life-supporting ventilator. ARDS affects approximately 200,000 Americans every year. ARDS survivors often have long-lasting impairments such as cognitive dysfunction, mental health issues and physical impairments, all of which may affect employment. "This study is important and novel given its comprehensive evaluation of joblessness among almost 400 previously employed ARDS survivors from multiple sites across the U.S.," says Dale Needham, F.C.P.A, M.D., Ph.D., professor of medicine and of physical medicine and rehabilitation at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and senior author of the study. "Multiple studies have suggested that joblessness is common in people who survive ARDS, but to our knowledge, none have carefully tracked those who returned to work or subsequently lost their jobs, performed an in-depth analysis of risk factors for joblessness, and evaluated the impact of joblessness on lost earnings and health care coverage," adds Biren Kamdar, M.D., M.B.A., M.H.S., assistant professor of medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and the study's first author. One important goal of the research, the scientists say, is to better identify specific risk factors for joblessness and to inform future interventions aimed at reducing joblessness after ARDS. The new study was conducted as part of the ARDS Network Long-Term Outcome Study (ALTOS), a national multicenter prospective study longitudinally evaluating ARDS survivors recruited from 2006 to 2014, including patients from 43 hospitals across the U.S. For the analysis, the investigators recruited 922 survivors and interviewed them by telephone at six months and 12 months after the onset of their ARDS. Each survivor was asked about employment status, hours working per week, how long before they returned to work following hospital discharge, perceived effectiveness at work and major change in occupation. The research team estimated lost earnings using age- and sex-matched wage data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Individual survivors' matched wages were multiplied by the number of hours worked prior to hospitalization to determine potential earnings and by current hours worked to determine estimated earnings. Estimated lost earnings were calculated as the difference between estimated and potential earnings. Of the 922 survivors, 386 (42 percent) were employed prior to ARDS. The average age of these previously employed survivors was 45 years, 56 percent were male and 4 percent were 65 years or older. Overall, previously employed survivors were younger, predominantly male and had fewer pre-existing health conditions compared with survivors not employed before ARDS. Of the 379 previously employed patients who survived to 12-month follow-up, nearly half (44 percent) were jobless a year after discharge. Some 68 percent of survivors eventually returned to work during the 12-month follow-up period, but 24 percent of these survivors subsequently lost their jobs. Throughout the 12-month follow-up, non-retired jobless survivors had an average estimated earnings loss of about $27,000 each, or 60 percent of their pre-ARDS annual earnings. The research team also saw a substantial decline in private health insurance coverage (from 44 to 30 percent) and a rise in Medicare and Medicaid enrollment (33 to 49 percent), with little change in uninsured status. For the 68 percent of ARDS survivors who returned to work by the end of the follow-up year, the median time to return was 13 weeks after discharge. Of those, 43 percent never returned to the number of previous hours worked, 27 percent self-reported reduced effectiveness at work, and 24 percent later lost their jobs. The team found that older, non-white survivors, and those experiencing a longer hospitalization for their ARDS had greater delays in returning to work. Severity of illness and sex, however, did not affect time to return to work. "These results cry out for those in our medical field to investigate occupational rehabilitation strategies and other interventions to address the problem of post-discharge joblessness," Needham says. "Health care providers need to start asking themselves, 'What can we do to help patients regain meaningful employment,' and not just concern ourselves with their survival." "We believe that ARDS survivors are often jobless due to a combination of physical, psychological and cognitive impairments that may result, in part, from a culture of deep sedation and bed rest that plagues many ICUs. Perhaps if we can start rehabilitation very early, while patients are still on life support in the intensive care unit, getting them awake, thinking and moving sooner, this may result in greater cognitive and physical stimulation and improved well-being. This change in culture can occur and is part of regular clinical practice in our medical ICU at The Johns Hopkins Hospital." Other authors on this paper include Minxuan Huang, Victor D. Dinglas and Elizabeth Colantuoni of The Johns Hopkins University, Till M. von Wachter of the University of California at Los Angeles, and Ramona O. Hopkins of Intermountain Medical Center in Utah. Funding for this study is provided by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (N01HR56170, R01HL091760 and 3R01HL091760-02S1), the ARDS Network trials (contracts HHSN268200536165C to HHSN268200536176C and HHSN268200536179C) and the UCLA Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI) (NIH-National Center for Advancing Translational Science (NCATS) UCLA UL1TR000124 & UL1TR001881).
News Article | May 1, 2017
Another week brings moves and shifts at the upper levels of the renewable energy industry. Before founding the just-unstealthed Voltus last year, CEO Gregg Dixon was a senior VP and a founding executive at EnerNOC. Voltus is a challenger to EnerNOC, as is long-standing competitor CPower. In March, EnerNOC CEO Tim Healy said the firm was exploring "potential alternatives to our current structure. This may include the sale or separation of one or more of our business units, a sale of the company, or other alternatives." Jeff St. John reports on Voltus here. Last week we reported that Jon Wellinghoff, the chief policy officer at SolarCity, had left the company now that it has merged with Tesla. The ex-FERC commissioner just told GTM: "My move in opening my own firm, Policy/DER Consulting, will allow me to better focus on my passions, energy policy and its intersection with distributed energy resources. I see a rapid movement now happening from the old way of siloing technologies like rooftop solar, efficiency, storage, and control technologies to an integration and optimization of systems behind the meter. In order to effectively enable this transition, significant policy initiatives will be necessary. Those initiatives include the creation of efficient transactional financial market platforms based on backend algorithms like blockchain. Having my own firm allows me to fully explore and engage these new paradigms." William Stanton, most recently with Belectric, is now VP of engineering for Blue Oak Energy, a solar engineering firm. Blue Oak has a portfolio of 1.5 gigawatts of operational solar generation across the Americas. Stanton also served as director of global project permitting at First Solar. Blue Oak Energy is a wholly owned affiliate of Coronal Energy and Panasonic. JLM Energy, a renewable energy technology firm, added Erin Clark as COO. Clark most recently served as president of nationwide roofing and solar contracting firm PetersenDean. Peter Olmsted is now Assistant Secretary of Energy at the New York State Office of the Governor. He was previously with the New York State Department of Public Service and Vote Solar. Tom Weirich, previously with ACORE, is now director of marketing and business development at investment bank CohnReznick Capital. Matthew Culligan, with SunPower since 2007, has joined solar tracker standout NEXTracker as director of sales operations. Christopher Sommerfeld was promoted to director of field efficiency and quality at Sunrun. Dawn Roiz recently left the now-bankrupt California solar installer HelioPower to join Associated Construction & Engineering as controller. PV-magazine reports that HelioPower filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Wednesday and estimates it owes its employees approximately $124,000 in wages. Enertech Search Partners, an executive search firm with a dedicated cleantech practice, is the sponsor of the GTM jobs column. Among its many active searches, Enertech is looking for a VP of Sales -- Energy Efficiency This client empowers energy value chain participants by providing them the power to foresee -- leveraging advanced machine learning capabilities to deliver accurate, granular predictions, which are crucial for tackling the rising challenges of today's energy industry. The client is seeking a VP of Sales who will directly report to the CEO and become a member of the company's executive team. You should be a sales leader who has at 4 or more years of experience in hiring and managing a world class sales team that is aggressive, disciplined and results oriented. Frank Bergh, previously with Edison Energy, is now VP of grid engineering at Sigora International, a firm looking to develop a commercially viable microutility model "to provide underserved populations with first-rate electric utility service." FTC is a solar developer with SunEdison roots. Mitchel Bowman is now the director of engineering at the firm. What is the fastest-growing occupation in the U.S.? It's wind turbine technician, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics. The wind industry now employs more than 100,000 people, according to a new report from the American Wind Energy Association. Silver Lake, a private equity and venture debt firm that makes occasional forays into greentech, raised $15 billion for its latest fund. New Energy Capital Partners, an asset management firm, raised $325 million for its most recent fund. Obvious Ventures, an early-stage sustainable technology-focused VC firm, raised $178 million for its latest fund. We recently covered Congruent Ventures' recent fundraising activity as well. Jing Tian has been promoted to president of North American region at Trina Solar. Dr. Ernest J. Moniz, former U.S. Secretary of Energy and founding director of the MIT Energy Initiative, has been named as the first distinguished fellow of Emerson Collective, a social impact effort headed by Laurene Powell Jobs (net worth: $19 billion). Moniz will focus on "equitable access to technology, workforce development, and clean energy innovations in communities across America in support of a low carbon future." Andy Karsner is a managing partner of Emerson Collective. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo will nominate New York State Energy Research and Development Authority CEO John Rhodes to chair New York's Public Service Commission. Rhodes would fill the position left by Audrey Zibelman, who departed last month to lead a large Australian grid operator.
Agency: NSF | Branch: Contract Interagency Agreement | Program: | Phase: | Award Amount: 247.00K | Year: 2013
Agency: NSF | Branch: Contract Interagency Agreement | Program: | Phase: | Award Amount: 236.00K | Year: 2012
Agency: NSF | Branch: Contract Interagency Agreement | Program: | Phase: SCIENCE & ENGINEERNG INDICATRS | Award Amount: 330.00K | Year: 2016
Agency: NSF | Branch: Contract Interagency Agreement | Program: | Phase: | Award Amount: 262.00K | Year: 2014
Agency: NSF | Branch: Contract Interagency Agreement | Program: | Phase: | Award Amount: 329.00K | Year: 2015
Agency: NSF | Branch: Contract Interagency Agreement | Program: | Phase: | Award Amount: 222.00K | Year: 2011