Simple Navigation With an ESP8266

We think its good to have drones at sea, we need them, we need them to be cheap, so we can do stuff in our oceans like iron fertilizes, grow crops, generate fresh water etc. To work on that we develop a simple ocean drone at low cost. The parts of which are easy to buy. Thanks to an active tinkering community the software development is now also very easy.

D1 Mini Pro esp8266 board

We use an ESP8266 module called the D1 Mini Pro because it is easy to program using the Arduino IDE and it has a respectable transmission range of up to 100 meters (Wifi). We plan to use an external transmitter (1,5 km range) but for testing this is enough. Once it navigates we can program it to stay close to the side of the pond we will test in.


The GPS module is from amazon, the NEO-6M. It spits out the GPS data through a serial connection at 9600 Baud. It has the coordinates, spead over land and altitude if you need that data. It pinpointed our desk very precisely inside our home from about 4 satelites.

HMC 5883L

The compass module is the HMC 5883L three axis magnetometer. It has an I2C connection, for which there is an actual adafruit library, so it is easy to query. Its not tilt compensated so this might be a problem at sea. For the purpose of a first prototype to work from this will do.

Battery with charge controller

As a power source we want to use a floating solar panel, but for now we use this LiPo battery and charging module. We also add an oled screen for good measure. Servo’s can be controlled directly from the ESP8266 pins.

London will be China’s new Trans-Atlantic Hub?

This thought we had years ago is starting to recur to us these days : The UK is selling itself to China. It also seems to sell itself to the US, but the US seemst o have retracted because it can’t easily get the fracking and meat export expansion it wants. The UK also is liable to lose its northern oil reserves if Scotland splits off..

Boris Johnson offers residence to Hong Kong people

Why would we think that the UK is selling itself to China, that it is punishing itself in service of China. Simple : Old scores. We can all read in the history books that Britain was a complete asshole to China and India, much more so than Holland who left much sooner. The UK addicted the chinese to opium and went up their rivers with gunships when they could not pay for the porcelain in silver, as China requested. Then they grew the opium in Afganistan and this brought a lot of wealth to the island. The story of India is as warped. The people there where forbidden to find salt on the beach, and had to instead buy it from England, in return for Indian wealth. People died of lack of salt until Ghandi arrived and turned the relatively docile population into a force that the brits could no longer ignore.

So if the plan of Britain is to allow its territory to be used by the chinese, this means it can become a transatlantic logistics hub. It happens so that China is driving people out of Hong Kong in its attempt to annex it fully. Boris Johnson welcomes these people, a transmigration of a huge number of people used to work a multi language port. If even 10% would move it would still be 300.000 Hong Kong residents.

Now if you want the UK to be a Chinese satelite, then you’d like it to be outside the EU. Hence the no deal Brexit. You’d completely by pass the european ports when it comes to US logistics. Why not transpacific? Because the oil producers are in the middle of the EU route, and you want to supply the EU, which you can do though EU ports no problem.

Is this a likely scenario? Respond to Twitter @climatebabes

Perovskite Groundhog Day Syndrom

Groundhog Day is the name of a movie from 1993 in which Bill Murray plays an asshole reporter that seems to be destine to keep waking up on that same day until he gets being a human being right. Sometimes we feel like we are stuck in a scientific Groundhog Day, because we keep hearing promises, year after year, sometimes by universities, sometimes by companies.


One example is the perovskite solar cell, practically known as thin film solar cells. They have been around for as long as solar cells have been around, and come in many different chemistries, as opposed to the common silicon solar cells, where we have two flavours, monocrystaline and polycrystaline.

The Perovskite Structure

Perovskite is not a material, it is a structrure, a numeric relation between constituent atoms. They can have many interesting properties, which allows for their use in solar cells.

There are many stackings of materials that can form the Perovskite structure, and thus many types of cells. Two are shown above (upside down, the glass side should be up). The cell structure usually consists of a bottom electrode, a photosensitive material and a top electrode (often TinOxide covered glass). The trick is to allow photons to dislodge electrons from the material and make them collect on one side (the negative side) so they can be transported outside the cell to the positive side to do usefull work.

A high performance perovskite cell with Carbon electrode

Perovskite cells are easy to make, they require less energy than silcon solar cells, even though they use glass. They can be printed on plastic as well, just like silicon cells can be encapsulated in EVA. The latter is not allowed for imported solar panels however, which adds to the cost enormously (but that’s typical in our fossil cashflow economy). This post is about the disturbing lack of serious progress on these low energy input, easy to locally make solar cells that now can have similar yield to silicon panels when they first came to market. We seem to be stuck with eternal promises!

Making a Perovskite Solar Cell is Easy

Below a number of videos from different years about making perovskite solar cells.


Buying Perovskite Solar Cells

You can buy a couple of thin film solar panels, but they are really not booming. We installed Solar Frontier Panels, that consist of a mix of Copper, Indium,Selenium and Gallium and now achieve 23% efficiency. They are hard to buy, and basically the only Prerovskite panels on the market, besides many small thin film cells. Why is this the case?

Thin Film and Perovskite are almost never used in the same context, which seems intended to make us think they are different things

The history of solar panels is one written by the fossil fuel industry. Of course they have been considered a threat from the start, so Royal Dutch Shell made a move in the 70’s to buy all patents for making monocrystaline silicon, and the factories, and the reserves of produced silcon, and then stop making it. Shell not only keeps pushing for a destructive basis for our economy, it has many times actively set humanity back when it comes to renewable technology. Patents ran out and people wanted solar panels so eventually the efforts to hold back the technology failed.

Who owns Solar Frontier? The name Shell is all over its history. You can look at it positively, that they actually did create factories and produce the panels and improve the efficiency. But is this fast? Is this hoarding of technology wise? What is so hard about it? No matter how well meant the actions of Shell seem up close, you can not trust them to do anything that goes against their business interest. Their corruption of every part of society, even up to the Club of Rome is a horrible fact of history and we are feeling the consequences in the weather paterns and food security today.

Koch Industries also owned solar panel plants in the US, with the same intent to control the growth of the technology

So we doubt that perovskite is too hard to become a product today. We just think that universities staffed with people that want to find out more, that want to do research, are researching too long. Often oil companies are telling people to find solutions, go look (which is just french for GET THE FUCK OUT OF MY FACE). We should be aprehensive of reinventions, which we have written about it several times. A new generation of gullible kids is growing up and before you know it they are told Algae for biofuels are a new thing, while in fact this idea has returned every fucking decade for the last 50 years.

The fossil interests, money and patents have been abused to stall innovation that would disrupt the current economic order. Solar is winning because too many people actualy use the technology. There is no way to stop this amount of intent.

Somehow we have to get out of Groundhog Day for preovskite cells, start makeing them in the cheapest lightest usefull way we can think off, there really can be no patent on usefull chemistries (it is required here to remark that new patents are granted on existing knowledge with tiny adjustments on a regular basis, the patent office has to earn money too you know!). We need to start asking questions to researchers and perhaps just start making perovskite solar cells.

Ice Batteries and Industrial Heat Storage (until just Batteries)

Logical thought is hard to detect in todays energy policies. Every now and than the super obvious has to be stated just to remind those that act as if we are stuck and need fossil fuels they have not bought or hypnotized everybody. Renewables cause energy surplusses, spikes that could have been predicted a decade ago, but if you had believed the IEA at every point in recent history solar and wind would have plateaued (yes that is a word).

Embarassing, but necessary to ensure banks did not invest too much and fossil credit flows kept flowing

The problem today is a lack of batteries in the ‘grid’. Grid operators have been very clear they can see anything coming, and can anticipate a great future for any technology, as long is it is not renewable energy, especially distributed. Electic cars where also very hard to wrap their heads around, but the author of this piece was in the room when provincial regents declared it undesirable to anticipate a growth in EV, the same regent that blocked the construction of wind turbines (above 2 meter) in sparcely populated North Holland. In other words, there is a battle going on, we all know it.

Negative electricity prices due to too much being offered to the market are now a common occurance. Up to hundreds of Euro per Mwh can be earned if you just take it off the hands of the grid operators. This would be a strong stimulus if these prices where easier to access by companies, in other words if there was not a market step between raw producers and consumers. That step exists, as a legacy burden on the economy one could say. And there is a lot of debt loaded onto it as the burners of fossil fuels and grid operators recently became privately owned. A strange event because the cities selling it to the ‘investors’ where left with a couple of billions, but 10 years later that money was still not invested in anything it seemed. Would have made sense to invest in solar, but nope.

Anyway, what to do with that free electricity? We propse to generate ice which can then be used to reduce the cost of airconditioning. Just build a large tank, preferably the size of a swimmingpool under your building, fill it with water and run some pipes through there with freezing alcohol (something that remains liquid but can transfer the cold). Then during the day you run your airco cooling pipes through the same water and presto : You reduce the cost of your airco, and even more electricity will be available (the peaks come during the day).

Converting excess low-price electricity into high-temperature stored heat for industry and high-value electricity production

Heat storage can be lossy, but german tests showed it is possible. They used a large vacuum insulated concrete tank that had a pointy top to reduce circualtion, and found it cooled down slowely of course, but the bigger the tank the more heat remains in it (just like an elephant cools less fast than a mouse). We like to think about large tanks under the shared road between homes or special purpose tanks beneath fields nearby.

An example of large volume thermal storage But of course the entire top radiates heat..The deeper the better..

When a lot of electricity is dumped on the market this gives a contradictory signal to it : It discourages the building of more renewable energy sources, because how is the investment going to earn itself back if the profit is negative? This is why storage is a no no for the fossil side of the energy battle. Fossil energy is uniquely stored, highly stabile as well. It is a cornerstone of their defence to have reneables grasp for a way to be conserved for later use.

We have witnessed a number of battery technologies dissapear in the mist of fossil/banking control, like quite a few other disruptive technologies, for example freeze desalination of seawater at a fraction of the energy cost of reverse osmosis. The new (Lithium) batteries now in development will still be quite expensive, but they will last for decades. Investments in them will probably explode in spite of the awarness of banks they lose cashflow by supporting them. The holy grail however is a battery factory that needs only renewable energy and which owns its own energy sources. It can sell batteries for next to nothing. And we are not even mentioning potassium or zinc bromide batteries for stationary storage : Cheap, easy to make, killers.

It makes total sense to build a large grid battery to buffer renewable electricity. We have written about a big solar power plant in the Markermeer, and this enormous battery could be part of this project. Homes, solar, battery, recreation, nature for birds, fresh water protection in the heart of Holland. But until then there is certainly an option to store energy by keeping a cold store for your airconditioners.

Become a Roboeconomist

We all know the story of the faxmachine : At first there where no fax machines and people said “Why would I buy a fax machine, I can send nothing to nobody”. But from the few owners the use of faxes grew and soon they where a necessary part of every office. This dynamic has repeated itself over and over again in other situations, the use of phones, the growth of Paypall (which was driven by investments).

Roboeconomics, with its simple principles must compete with the current economic doctrine (which gives energy no special role and relies on fossil fuel credit to work). There is only one Roboeconomist now, namely me as far as I know. Thomas Piketty or Kate Raworth are just moving the deck chairs around, in a counterproductive manner. They are promoted for a reason, they create a bank-protecting narrative for people to jostle with while banks go about their business as usual.

Wealth = Energy x Skills x Materials

The disruptive concept of an economy build entirely on renewables, and what this means for credit creation needs promotion too. The starting point is a redefinition of “Wealth”, “Capital” and “Money” and a rethink of what it takes to create it.

What is Wealth

Wealth is what people need and enjoy in their lives. Food is wealth, clean water is wealth, a nice home is wealth. Wealth is subjective, and what counts as wealth differs from person to person. Wealth can satisfy a person, and make him/her require no more resources to be happy. The goal of human activity is to create and enjoy wealth.

What is Capital

Capital is what you use to create wealth. A hammer is capital when you use it to build a bed or table, something people need or enjoy. Capital can be a machine that weaves cloth or a truck that moves products around. Capital can also mean knowledge and understanding. An expert on breeding plants is capital. A computer that can optimize designs is capital. Even a myth can be capital, so a fantasy in the minds of people can be used to produce wealth. Christianity in Germany is capital for example, it dictates a person has to work hard to serve God.

What is Money

Money is a token for exchange, nothing more , nothing less. It solves timing issues (the thing offered is not available when it can be accepted) in trade. Money only works if capital or wealth exists. Because of this function money can help organize activities that would otherwise be impossible, like having airlines and railsystems.

Banks like to call money capital, and say they are capitalist because they create money against assets. They also like to call money wealth, and try to make you believe people with a lot of money are very wealthy. But if the owners of wealth and capital refuse to part with it for the money of the bank, there is no way that money can pretend to be either.

Because banks know they are lying, they must put people into debt. Debt ensures the need for money. Without any debt in society, wealth and capital would be enough to make it work, the time buffering function of money can be replaced by simple IOUs or shares. We could all have railroad shares and enable a railroad system we could all use when we needed to. Of course normally this would be arranged by the biggest organization, the government, through taxes (this was the primary purpose of government besides protection).

The Relation between Money and Energy

The biggest insight that is necessary to understand Roboeconomics is that money allocates energy in our economy, mainly fossil energy. If you use money to buy a product or service, your money will eventually be used to buy energy. Even if you buy an apple from a biological farmer he/she probably used a tractor, and your money is going towards some diesel for that tractor. This specific trade, your ‘time delay token’ vs. fossil energy, is both the core of our economy and its biggest problem.

Why is it a problem? Because nobody makes fossil energy, it is found and used up, no new fossil energy is created like apples or cars or musical compositions. It is a one way process, find fossil fuel, get it to the ‘market’, trade it for money, burn it, find more fossil fuels. Until there are none to be found (in theory). We all pretend we work, but we should consider how much of our work is done by fossil fuel, how much we use it. This is like a crutch we walk with, we do not realize we can not walk at all without it, because it gives us no discomfort to use it (although smog and a dying planet).

When we think we need money, we really need fossil fuel money, because that never comes back if we spend it. If we where a 18th century town with five people, farmer, baker, butcher, tailor, doctor, we could keep each other alive with NO money. But today that would be impossible. We would all need energy for plowing, baking, cooling, sowing (not much but ok) and production of pharmaceuticals, we would ask customers for money because we could not buy supplies with credit that can’t buy fossil fuels.

The Roboeconomy sees a Light

The above has consequences :

  • The power of banks is based on the availability of fossil fuels.
  • Distributed renewable energy (RE) threaten banks
  • Own renewable energy and you can create wealth freely
  • The potential to RE wealth creation far exceeds that of our current system (2500 times!)

The Roboeconomy is about focussing on this wealth, to start organizing the combination of renewable energy, skills and materials to create wealth, preferably without any involvement of banks or outside trade (so called Extraeconomics). In the current economy pure debt free RE wealth creation results in accumulation of money without having a use for it.

About the Formula for Wealth

The formula for wealth is:

Wealth = Energy x Skills x Materials

Let’s explain the terms, so we can see it is a general formula.

The term Energy can mean manpower, solar or wind electricity, or solar heat or nuclear power or fossil fuel energy. To make a car you need to manipulate the materials (say stainless steel) in such a way it takes the shape of a chassis in all its details. The steel resist this manipulation and this requires energy to overcome. To make a cake in an oven the ingredients need to be heated to undergo chemical changes, that requires heat energy. But the mixing of the ingredients with a machine required electricity, and the loading of the machine by a baker burned metabolic glucose.

The term Skills is also general, it means the ability to choose actions to achieve a specific outcome. A skilled racecar driver is faster around the track with the same car than an unskilled driver. It is the ability to link actions in sequences, to recognize choices that need to be made, to recognize a target is not yet reached. People have skills, but machines can have skills as can computers. You need skills to create wealth, because wealth is not random. A man can create a beautifull graden or grow crops, and create wealth, but without the ability to choose his actions to reach these outcomes he would not succeed. If you consider a paperclip wealth the machine making them embodies skills as it succeeds in bending and cut a wire to make it, a sequence of specific actions. We are close to an age in which AI is so potent it will be able to imagine and create almost anything we ask it to, so ‘skills’ will become widely available.

The term materials is also general. Materials can be any input into a production process. It can be ore for steel or water to make ice cubes or old clothes to make paper. You could come across a situation where wealth itself is a material, to be recycled. Old sneakers still usefull could be recycled into new ones. Crumms of a cake can be fed to pigs to make pork.

There is a fine line between what can be used as a material and what is wealth, this is one of the biggest problems if your energy source is fossil fuels and you have banks. Because banks want to see cashflow they promote the use of fossilfuels to turn materials into wealth. They call it ‘economic growth’ and ‘the economy’. It is a destructive process. This results in wild unsustainable raising of natural materials from places that are expensive to reach. This happens because the cost of fossil fuels is arbitrary. For a plane or containership the cost of fuel is set such that it can fly and travel. In our current economy the goal is maximize fossil credit cashflow, NOT WEALTH. Banks don’t mind creating massive debt in order to secure their cashflow, they know nobody can really repay for the buring of fossil fuels. Banks or ‘the economy’ do not care about anything else.

What is a material and what is not in the roboeconomy is decided by those that enjoy the wealth, as wealth is only recognizable by people that enjoy it or dream about it. Wealth is what is being maximized, not cashflow. Money is created at the RE energy sources and distributed by the state or owner of the energy source. Excluding non renewables, leaving everything free but only monitoring average reported wealth per capita can be enough to make the Roboeconmy work. This can be an objective metric (of a subjective experience) because there is no pressure to sell anything to anyone as cashflow is not important. This is a stark contrast with today where there is immense pressure to sell fossil fuels by the banks and fossil fuel producers.

Steps Towards the Roboeconomy

  • More renewable energy sources
  • Reduction of debt by bankruptcies (denial of bank control)
  • More debt free energy, materials and skills
  • Creation of wealth in small ‘Extraeconomic’ systems
  • Creation of RE based communities outside the fossil logistic network

If the above makes sense to you you can become a roboeconomist. Working with the basic principles you will find that there need to be no dense cities, in fact they are problematic. RE can be produced almost anywhere, and so can wealth especially if you embody skills in robots or automated systems. If materials are a prerequisite for wealth then it makes sense ot create more, meaning plant more trees, clean up nature, recycle plastic, etc. etc. The Roboeconomy is about maximizing wealth, and a gorgeous planet thriving with life is wealth. The upside is that it is now achievable with very little effort.

Don’t Fight them, Ignore them

The arch enemy is anyone that promotes business as usual, fossil credit creation, ‘economism’, that wants you to envy rich people or be angry if someone steals a lot of money. That is all banks dangling a promise in front of your eyes, a promise they count on you to fullfill! Ignore them, focus on the factors of wealth and build an independent network that serves you, not banks or fossil fuel companies. It is the state of the future, no matter how long the fossil/banking pressure on politics will surivive, eventually it will give in. The trick they use is to distract you in a million ways, with pain and pleasure, so you don’t realize you can be the master of your fate without them. You may realize it now, and start to practice this knowledge to your advantage..

The Case for Measuring Happyness and Negative Elections

Democracy is a great good, it builds in feedback from every member of society to its leadership as it tries to neutralize greed and maximize social coherence. It is also an experiment because it relies on a number of factors that are not spontaneous, like a decent leven of education, good journalism and news services, usefull activities for all. You may guess where we’re going with this : Modern fossil capatalist society is not an ideal substrate for democracy.

The truth is that no matter how much rules you make, when those in the system are fundamentally opposed to its order and structure, you are not going to win. Dictators know that once you start applying force you have to become really invasive into lives and even then you can not expect stability. People hate to be forced, the best way to keep people from revolting is to keep them happy. This is hard now because we are all fighting over a scarce resource, fossil fuels, and this scarcity is increasing, to include water, arable land, so food, tolerable temperatures.

Democracy unprotected is destined to be this guy..

If you look at the US system you can observe the ‘republicans’ are eating it alive. They are now even postponing elections to allow them to appoint judges, who will then allow more erosion of rights. The wolfs are in the henhouse, and the farmer is not paying attention. This will end badly, because the forces at play with Turmp etc. do not care about anything besides being in control. It’s the joke of the guy in the castings still mad at his molestor. You can reach a point where there is no way to regain ground no matter how angry you get.

So how to improve the situation? First off, as democrats you have to remove yourself from the money game. You have to declare yourself incorruptable by fixing your income for at least 20 years or so. People vote or don’t vote, that’s easy and cheap, but no endless adds online or elsewhere. This something few people will do though, and an already corrupt system can only become more corrupt as it uses its immoral attitude to gather more perks and rewards.

Another approach is to fix a flaw in the democratic process : We collect opinions, but don’t read the feedback from the community. We pretend money is a feedback mechanism that will inform us if policies are good or bad, but how would that work, except for companies? Do people start to spend more if they feel better? Not if they don’t have any money! There is a correlation, but why not simply investigate how they feel. This is pretty easy, fitbits everywhere these days. Questions like “Are you happy” “Who do you thank for your happiness” “What measure HAS attributed to your happiness” Always in the past, because this is a real measurement. Lies won’t work (although hypnosis would go a long way). So many interactions in our lives are monitored these days. The voting ballot could even be used to gauge wellbeing.

Another approach could be to allow for direct sacking of political figures. The criterium must be that a sizable portion of people that voted for the elected official can revoke their vote. With immediate effect. This creates a system a lot like Athens real democracy, where decisions where reversed and those involved in the process would reconsider their priorities based on circumstances. The US with it’s fake 50/50 divided electorate cold send Trump or McConnel or Pelosi home. Negative elections, deelections, demotions of poltical figures is something that would really help remove the cruel and insensitve lakeys from the public arena.

Bidirectional Charging, Grid Stalling and Roadbots

Tesla is planning to enable “bidirectional charging” in its model 3 and model Y electric cars. This means the vehicles can both take and return power to either the grid or off grid network. In Holland this option has been tauted as a great way to help the gridoperators to balance load and shave peaks of solar production during the day. We need to separate the different aspects and benefits though, so we don’t solve a problem the grid operators should have started to solve a decade ago (and openly neglected in Holland).

Shell and others have promoted car battery assisted grid balancing to not have to put storage in their grid

It would make sense to start explaining how much a car can store at this point in the post, but this is a common error. We do not promote the idea, so we can point out that stationary battery storage can deliver reliable fast energy, as has been demonstrated by many projects in industry of many producers of stationary battery systems. Tesla sells powerpacks and megapacks, and frankly these systems are not rocketscience, the battery technology used is a bit more, but it all comes down to how much can you fabricate. Demand is going to grow for at least the next 30 years.

Meanwhile the other side of the battlefield, the side supported by fossil fuel companies and banks, have been stalling on using battery storage in a most disgracefull fashion. They are promoting hydrogen as an energy carrier, because this allows the conversion of LNG, methane into H2 hydrogen at plants that wil produce as much CO2 as when you burn it, maybe less NOx, but out of sight of the consumer. It also allows for the destruction of about 60% of renewable energy (if not more) as this form of energy is used to split H2O into H2 and O2. So Hydrogen can slow down the competition of renewable energy considerably while being dangerous and expensive, so while driving industrial fossil energy use.

Part of this overall strategy is to make the lack of storage painfull. The dutch grid operator has openly explained it could not forsee the demand for storage generated by solar/pv/wind. Unlike the hydrogen research community that consumed billions or the fusion research community that also consumed billions somehow the european grid operators could not come up with a vision of integration of solar and wind. They did create a market on which nuclear power was dumped so that wind and solar had a hard time competing. Great strides in storage where certainly NOT made. A close observer can strace new technology into universities where they are often locked up in endless research. Thin film solar is one of those products. It’s not being made at scale, it would be too cheap!

But back to cars. If you for a minute pretend we’re in a fair world and nobody is trying to sabotage our lives, a car that can buffer or transport 100 kWh is a great thing. It is economically speaking the path of least resistance. Especially with new anodes and cathodes in batteries that guarantee incredible cycle lifes because charging and discharging doesn’t degrade them, the utility of a given battery is not maximized in a stationary electric car. The holy grail of battery storage is a chemical process that is perfectly reversible, is efficient and does not leak charge. Hydrogen fails on the efficiency and leaking counts, but some new batteries come pretty close to this ideal.

If your car battery does not degrade from it’s alternative use while you still have a fully capable car then it would be foolish not to use that capacity to accelerate the growth of renewable energy and demise of the fossil/banking sectors. If power grid operators relent and pay for the storage (!!) this could be a way to transition faster.

Another aspect is also important to envision : Roadbots. We wrote about Roadbots a while back. They are coming. Telsa’s full self driving capability when it comes will turn their cars into roadbots, They can have multiple functions : transport people, transport energy, transport all kinds of stuff. We expect production of near bare chassis roadbots will start soon, creating mobile platforms that can do work autonomously almost anywhere. Put a desterious robot arm on your wheeled battery chassis with a couple of tools and you can send these things to fix stuff, if necessary remotely operated.

We are moving into an era where logistics will truely be cost free due to the efficiency and reliability of the vehicles used. Cars and trucks will be like rivers, fed by solar energy and moving around to be used without serious degradation (would be nice to have fully recycleable tires!). This will be part of the Roboeconomy and will greatly help us live weathly lives and fight climate change.

Money in the Roboeconomy or How ‘Teslas’ Could Become the Global Currency

Many are after money. It seems like money is some kind of magic tool that can conjure up anything you like. In many places this is more or less true today, but it is because those that you pay want you to feel like this (Amazon for example), not because there is some intrinsic mechanism to 1. make stuff and 2. to get stuff where it needs to be.

Money is just a token. It fixes one problem in the economy : That you may need something when you don’t want to realy part with something. If you have something you want to trade today, but need nothing (or need something that is only available next week) you accept money because you know it will work to get you what you want next week. This is how money is said to be “a store of value”. This is a mistake, it is not. If nothing is available to buy with your money next week, the money is worthless.

Another thing about money is that it does not solve the delivery of what you want to buy. This is essential for trade. If you are in a desert and you have $1000, it will have no value at all. Whatever you order from that desert has to come to you, which adds cost, the more remote you are the less value your $1000 has. Logistics is often associated with trade, but it has to be associated with money. It is an essential requirement for money to function.

We barely notice the weaknesses of money today because fossil fuels for logistics is kept dirt cheap. This is the “well oiled machine” fossil fuels created. We order something online and it comes with ‘free shipping’. This is of course a huge enabler of trade. It is also an illusion. Container ships produce massive emissions, require incredible amounts of fuel. Some shipping companies (Maersk) own their own oil wells. All this is to keep the illusion alive that wherever you are, your $100 bill will buy you something.

The downside of this illusion is that large regions of the world remain unused. This is because before anything can happen anywhere there needs to be a road and a gasstation. The (fossil) energy needs to be there so people can move stuff and trade. Fossil fuels are connecting all productive members of the economy, not only consumers and producers. Because this is a hassle we have factories and cities and towns, where we concentrate wealth creation so the cost (and human effort) involved is minimized. Also to protect the human lives but that is a lesser concern in most of Europe.

From the above it is easy to conclude that our current financial system is fundamentally married to the fossil energy sector. It has a nice trick it pulls on us. It borrows money to us, and we buy fuel with it to move ourselves and our products around. This absorbs a certain percentage into the fossil industry accounts, but we still have to pay back what we borrowed. We never can, and so banks gain ownership as the weak playrs in the system go bankrupt, The economy is a system that continuously increases the control of banks.

In the Roboeconomy money’s weaknesses will be exposed. Money can only be a token of exchange if its relationship with energy for logistics is somehow neutralized. A renewable energy producer should be allowed to create credit so people can buy its energy in the future. But the further you get away from the energy source the more energy has to be produced to deliver the same amount to the customer. Also the energy needs to be transported. This means that economic activity will happen close to renewable energy sources and along existing energy distribution networks.

On the other hand, renewables allow new centers of activity to sprout up in places that have enough renewable energy potential, such as our deserts. There will be a critical mass of economic skills and materials needed to make it work, but when those two conditions are met there is no reason to doubt a community can grow almost anywhere, on land or at sea. This is a great positive effect of moving on from a fossil basis of world trade to a renewable one. At the same time the pressure to trade will drop significantly, because banks are no longer able to rake in control over assets. The world will become many seperate communities creating wealth to their best abilities. Of course any technology can be used to do it, robots, AI, computers.

In such a world there could be a new system, created to bring comfort to travellers. It can be a lot like the Starbucks and Burger Kings we see wherever we (pre covid) used to fly. The simple fact is that although every place may need a different exact energy input to produce certain kinds of wealth (say a capucino), if the energy source is dirt cheap (like solar panels already are) then you can deliver the wealth for a currency that you can use with establishments set up this way. The total independence of say a Starbucks or fast food chain from a fossilcredit and logistics system would make it a super stabile entity in the experience of people moving around.

If you imagine Tesla setting up charing points all over the globe, where you can buy 1 kwh for 2 ct or something, put it in your car, drive home, power your home (in one of these remote places) etc. Then Tesla could use its own currency to deliver that energy, and a real productive economy could grow on the basis of that currency. Earning enough Tesla’s to power an electric plane to fly you to Baghdad (where the big covered pools and gardens are) would be a motivator to create wealth for others as a citizen. This is exactly what banks do : They provide the illusion that our money has a fixed value everywhere, and that we can save it. We find comfort in that illusion, and we work because we believe we can experience wealth in the future (from our savings). Sadly banks are lying, because they are using fossil fuel as a basis, and this is bothe a finite and toxic resource to use.

Inverters and Converters

This is a short post about the cost of DC convertes and Inverters. If you buy a solar panel these days you pay about 30ct/Wp, which is cheap (and 10ct of that is tax!). Then you are supposed to buy an inverter, which cost about 20 ct/Wp, so that doubles the price. The inverter pumps the 40 Volt output power to 110 or 220 AC. This is done with buck converters these days.

The trick is to release the energy to the 220 AC so that it flows. Because AC goes positive and negative, so if you add 220 Volt positive to the AC grid while the AC itself is -220 Volt, you lose it all and you weaken the AC. Makes sense, but at the same time it’s not rocket science.

Another trick inverters do is to track the MPP or maximum power point of the panel. This is the voltage at which the new electrons the sun dislodges are taken away at optimal speed. It shifts with the strenght of the sunlight. If you draw to much current from the panel or too little you lose power conversion. MPP tracking inverters are way more expensive than non MPP tracking.

So the cost of this kind of device for a 400 Wp panel is 80 Euro.

Now if you just want to convert 40 volt to 12 volt or something like that, you can use a DC/DC boost converter wich costs about 5 Euro (on Alibaba). You don’t get MPPT tracking and you don’t get AC synchronization.

So 80 Euro vs 5 Euro. That is waay to large a difference.

Now of course inverters have been developed over years, so they are sophisticated, and they last a lifetime. The certification is expensive etc. etc.

Just adding MPPT and 220 AC output is not 80 Euro expensive.

But this adds to the case of home batteries and a separate home grid vs outside grid. It makes you think why do you need power from outside all the time. You could cut the cost of your solar installation by 1/3th if you run a home system with 24 Volt DC or even a 220 AC system that is not synchronied. With enough buffering batteries you can top those up with 220 from the grid if needs be. You lose 5% but who cares.

Of course batteries are still way to expensive. We really need those potassium ion batteries, or Zink Bromine ones, which you can make at home. We feel like we should do a DIY demo. TBC..

What Needs To Happen

Measures are taken in response to climate change. A lot of spectators are commenting on what happens without actually adding much effort of use. It is better to work a day and use your pay to buy solar panels than to spend it demonstrating for action. Silent action is very hard to oppose. Action where nobody is looking or wants to be is also very hard to oppose.

Below however are a number of things that we all need to work on in the next decades. We need not spend time trying to draw attention to the problem if we just work on these things to improve the outcome.

We need to

  • Preserve water, build storage for it, collect it
  • Cover our streets to shield against the heat
  • Cover our farmland to shield against the sun
  • Build more renewable energy sources and storage
  • Plant trees wherever they will grow
  • Start utilizing solar heat for heating and cooling
  • Work on shading the planet as a whole, from space
  • Work on shading the oceans, or parts of them
  • Work on fertilizing the oceans
  • Learn to farm and thive in the hottest desert
  • Build electric planes, trucks, boats and cars.
  • Break the Reverse Osmosis monopoly
  • Break the patent lock on usefull technology
  • Start making everything we need within 100 km from where we live
  • Shape landscape so more rain sinks into the ground
  • Become electable as a climate active civil servant
  • Bleed the tabloid press to death if we can
  • Separate the sustainable economy from the fossil based economy
  • More natural resources need to be generated than we consume
  • CO2 needs to be converted back into carbon or hydrocarbons and stored