Day: August 14, 2019

Energy Vault raises $110 million from SoftBank Vision Fund as energy storage grabs headlines

Imagine a moving tower made of huge cement bricks weighing 35 metric tons. The movement of these massive blocks is powered by wind or solar power plants and is a way to store the energy those plants generate. Software controls the movement of the blocks automatically, responding to changes in power availability across an electric grid to charge and discharge the power that’s being generated.

The development of this technology is the culmination of years of work at Idealab, the Pasadena, Calif.-based startup incubator, and Energy Vault, the company it spun out to commercialize the technology, has just raised $110 million from SoftBank Vision Fund to take its next steps in the world.

Energy storage remains one of the largest obstacles to the large-scale rollout of renewable energy technologies on utility grids, but utilities, development agencies and private companies are investing billions to bring new energy storage capabilities to market as the technology to store energy improves.

The investment in Energy Vault is just one indicator of the massive market that investors see coming as power companies spend billions on renewables and storage. As The Wall Street Journal reported over the weekend, ScottishPower, the U.K.-based utility, is committing to spending $7.2 billion on renewable energy, grid upgrades and storage technologies between 2018 and 2022.

Meanwhile, out in the wilds of Utah, the American subsidiary of Japan’s Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems is working on a joint venture that would create the world’s largest clean energy storage facility. That 1 gigawatt storage would go a long way toward providing renewable power to the Western U.S. power grid and is going to be based on compressed air energy storage, large flow batteries, solid oxide fuel cells and renewable hydrogen storage.

“For 20 years, we’ve been reducing carbon emissions of the U.S. power grid using natural gas in combination with renewable power to replace retiring coal-fired power generation. In California and other states in the western United States, which will soon have retired all of their coal-fired power generation, we need the next step in decarbonization. Mixing natural gas and storage, and eventually using 100% renewable storage, is that next step,” said Paul Browning, president and CEO of MHPS Americas.

Energy Vault’s technology could also be used in these kinds of remote locations, according to chief executive Robert Piconi.

Energy Vault’s storage technology certainly isn’t going to be ubiquitous in highly populated areas, but the company’s towers of blocks can work well in remote locations and have a lower cost than chemical storage options, Piconi said.

“What you’re seeing there on some of the battery side is the need in the market for a mobile solution that isn’t tied to topography,” Piconi said. “We obviously aren’t putting these systems in urban areas or the middle of cities.”

For areas that need larger-scale storage that’s a bit more flexible there are storage solutions like Tesla’s new Megapack.

The Megapack comes fully assembled — including battery modules, bi-directional inverters, a thermal management system, an AC breaker and controls — and can store up to 3 megawatt-hours of energy with a 1.5 megawatt inverter capacity.

The Energy Vault storage system is made for much, much larger storage capacity. Each tower can store between 20 and 80 megawatt hours at a cost of 6 cents per kilowatt hour (on a levelized cost basis), according to Piconi.

The first facility that Energy Vault is developing is a 35 megawatt-hour system in Northern Italy, and there are other undisclosed contracts with an undisclosed number of customers on four continents, according to the company.

One place where Piconi sees particular applicability for Energy Vault’s technology is around desalination plants in places like sub-Saharan Africa or desert areas.

Backing Energy Vault’s new storage technology are a clutch of investors, including Neotribe Ventures, Cemex Ventures, Idealab and SoftBank.

Sleep Hacking: How to Optimize Your Sleep for Success

We spend a significant portion of our lives sleeping. Recharging, dreaming, and restoring are parts of everyone’s life no matter where you live or who you are. So, why do so many of us struggle with our sleep? And how can we change the way we think about sleep for success?

‘Sleep hacking’ has become a buzzword in the world of startups and entrepreneurship.

Essentially, sleep hacking is where you try to streamline your sleeping pattern. By reducing the time spent falling asleep and reducing the amount of sleep in general, you can free up some crucial hours in the day… well, crucial for those that run multiple businesses or have demanding careers.

But there is consternation when it comes to sleep hacking.

Is it advisable? Is it good for you?

We’re going to explore this subject a bit more and see if we can answer some of those questions.

Famous Sleep Hackers

Some of the most famous people in the world have had unusual and demanding sleep patterns.

Is this really feeding into their success? Or is it an unnecessary measure against a busy schedule?

After all, sleeping well is incredibly important for performance and even dreaming can be extremely illuminating. Some of the world’s greatest creators, inventors, and innovators have had world-changing ideas in their sleep.

So, who among us is able to get by on very little sleep? Some famous ‘sleep hackers’ include:

  • Jack Dorsey, Twitter CEO. Jack splits his time between two of his startups, Twitter and Square. This means he can spend up to 20 hours a day at work. Jack gets by on four to six hours of sleep a night.
  • Marissa Meyer, Yahoo CEO. Marissa can often work up to 130 hours a week, leaving just 5 hours a night to sleep.
  • Barack Obama, Former US President. Obama’s presidential schedule only allowed for six hours of sleep a night. And when you’re running the largest economy in the world, that sleep is very liable to be interrupted by a myriad of crises.
  • Martha Stewart, President of Martha Stewart Omnimedia. As the president of a media company that’s responsible for four major publications and more, Martha was often reduced to just four hours of sleep a night.
  • Nikola Tesla, Famous Inventor. A man who truly changed the world, Nikola Tesla’s diary suggests that he would sleep as little as two hours a night.
nikola tesla sleep hacking
Via interestingengineering.com

Sleep Hacking and Your Health

While it’s ideal to get at least 8 hours of sleep each night, the idea of sleeping just half of that seems preposterous. The reality is we’re all wired up differently when it comes to sleep.

Some of us will really feel sleeping less than 8 hours of sleep the next day. Some of us can probably get by on around 6 hours without any noticeable difference.

And it is true that 8 hours of sleep is optimum but not essential to everyone. And it’s up to you to figure out if you’re able to cope. Trying to jump in at the deep end and sleeping only 2 hours like Nikola Tesla is very likely to backfire and is not recommended in any way. But you can start phasing down your sleep if sleep hacking is something you think you can do and would benefit from.

The actual benefit of sleep hacking is also key here. For these famous sleep hackers, it’s quite a stretch to say that by having a few extra hours in the day (in some cases just two or three), it’s enabled them to reach the lofty heights they have. And we’re not saying for one second that if you start sleep hacking, you’ll become a famous CEO. There are also plenty of ways to perform better in life while still enjoying 8 hours of good sleep every night.

If you are time-poor, then sleep hacking can create a few extra hours of crucial time for you. But you have to be willing to use that time effectively.

If you know that you really can’t handle that amount of sleep, then you can look at other tactics and changes you can make in your life. Think about your time management and your lifestyle. Maybe a reduction in sleeping hours isn’t what you need, but rather a change in sleeping times.

Are you more productive in the morning? Get up earlier and ride the crest of your productive morning waves.

Are you more of a night owl? See how you can use that to your advantage.

How Can You Start Improving Your Sleep Today?

sleep hacking tip

There are a number of steps you can take to start improving your sleep before you venture into the world of sleep hacking:

Supplements – Supplementing your diet with vitamins and minerals is one step on the way to better sleep. Vitamin D, Magnesium, and oils with Omega 3 are your friend here.

Diet – What you eat also ties in to how you sleep. Your brain is the organ with the highest fat content in your body. So, high-quality fats will feed your brain the right way and can help improve your sleep.

Sleeping Position – The way you sleep can make a big difference. For instance, sleeping on your back can create tension on your hips and lower back. It’s also linked to higher instances of sleep paralysis. Sleeping on your side is better and even sleeping at a slight incline can help improve quality, too.

Invest in it – Invest in your sleep with things like a weighted blanket or sleep trackers. There are high-spec apps that can tell you more about your sleep and sleep quality. You spend roughly a third of your life asleep, investing in it is welcome!

Reduce Your Exposure to Light – In a world of screens, the light emanating from them can later affect our sleep, especially when you’re scrolling your timeline in bed waiting to fall asleep. A good rule of thumb is to try and not look at any kind of screen for at least 20 minutes before going to sleep. Another good tip is to go for a walk when you’re done with your phone. Avoid interacting with any kind of screen when you’re back.

Meditation – Mindfulness meditation techniques have been shown to improve sleep. If you can create the right conditions of your sleep and then engage in some mental exercises that allow you to let go of your day and focus on your breath, this can naturally lead to a good, deep sleep.

See Also: Questions and Answers: A Beginners Guide to Meditation

Sleep Cold – Heat wakes up at night and humidity interferes with your sleep. Although a cold shower generally wakes you up, having one before bed isn’t a bad idea to reduce your body temperature. Alternatively, lower the temperature in a room if you can.

While sleep hacking isn’t for everyone, there are definitely some concrete and simple measures you can start enacting today that can help. Another thing to consider is whether your sleep is what you should be focusing on.

Would you be better off streamlining other parts of your life? We would say that looking to reduce your sleep should be one of your final resorts. What good is sleep hacking if you’re going to be tired and well below your full performance capacity all day?

The post Sleep Hacking: How to Optimize Your Sleep for Success appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

Only 24 hours left to apply to Hardware Battlefield at TC Shenzhen

Holy hardware, startup founders! You have only 24 hours left to apply to the Hardware Battlefield at TC Shenzhen on November 11-12. This hardware-only pitch competition, cousin to TechCrunch’s world-renown Startup Battlefield, is a real game-changer. Got hardware? Want to launch on a world stage? Do. Not. Delay. Apply to compete in TC Hardware Battlefield 2019 before 11:59pm on August 14th.

What’s in it for you? Excellent question. If you’re selected to compete, you’ll join a cadre of outstanding early-stage hardware startup to vie for a $25,000 prize along with global media and investor exposure. Come to Shenzhen, show the world your innovative hardware and take your startup to the next level.

We partnered with China’s TechNode, to produce this Hardware Battlefield during the larger TechCrunch Shenzhen show happening November 9-12. We’ll consider your startup if you meet these simple basic requirements.

  • Submit your application by on August 14
  • You must have a minimally viable product to demo onstage
  • Your product has received little if any, press coverage to date
  • Your product must be a hardware device or component

TechCrunch editors will closely vet qualified applications and select approximately 15 startups to compete. If you make the cut, get ready to roll up your sleeves and get to work. You’ll receive six weeks of free pitch coaching from our Battlefield editorial team. When it comes time to step onto the stage and deliver your pitch, you’ll be calm, cool and on point.

Every team gets six minutes to pitch in front of a panel of judges comprised of expert VCs, founders and technologists. They’ll hit you up with a tough Q&A and if you make the first cut, you’ll repeat the process all over again to a fresh set of judges.

Only one startup will be hailed the Hardware Battlefield champion, but the intense investor and media attention can change the lives of any or all competitors. Oh, and here’s another perk. All participants join the ranks of the Startup Battlefield elite. Our Battlefield alumni community currently numbers 857 companies that have accumulated $8.9 billion in funding and 110 exits. Just think of the potential networking opportunities.

Hardware Battlefield at TC Shenzhen takes place on November 11-12, but the application window closes at on August 14. Join us in China’s hardware heartland and launch your startup to the world. Apply to compete right now.

Is your company interested in sponsoring or exhibiting at Hardware Battlefield TC Shenzhen? Contact our sponsorship sales team by filling out this form.

Give your heart to Emilia Clarke and Henry Golding in the first trailer for ‘Last Christmas’

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There is A Lot going on in the trailer for Last Christmas. 

Paul Feig’s first romcom — and yes, it’s holiday themed to boot — stars Game Of Thrones‘ Emilia Clarke and Crazy Rich Asians‘ Henry Golding.

Counting off the tropes, we have a clumsy (but beautiful!) heroine whose life is a mess (she works as an elf in a Christmas shop and she’s not even good at it!); a meet-cute involving bird poop; our lead couple literally bumping into one another; a grim hospital backstory; a scene where Golding surprises Clarke with an ice-rink-all-to-themselves date (complete with booming lights-on noise); and at least one public carol-singing scene. Oh, and it’s “featuring the songs of George Michael.” Read more…

More about Paul Feig, Emilia Clarke, Christmas Movies, Last Christmas, and Henry Golding