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Tesla Motors Inc.s bid to buy the biggest U.S. rooftop solar installer has little to do with selling cars. Rather, its about solving two of the biggest problems standing in the way of the next solar boom. And perhaps a good deal more.

When Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk came out last week with his $2.86 billion plan to acquire SolarCity Inc., it was almost universally derided as a risky financial move that threatens to derail the electric car maker at its most critical moment.

Thats undoubtedly true. But in the dozens of analyst notes and news stories that picked apart the deal, theres been little attention paid to what well call Tesla Solar and how it could transform the power sector. Its actually a really big idea.

Solar Problem No. 1: Its too complicated

Consider the average homeowner who might be vaguely interested in adding rooftop solar. Where does the process start?

Adding solar requires customers to sort through competing technologies and complex financing schemes with no household names to turn to. And then theres the aesthetic impediment: Solar panels alter the look and value of ones most important personal assetthe home. Its a big leap of faith, even in regions where adding solar is an economic no-brainer. 

This problem has dogged solar companies for years. Vivint Inc. has legions of door-to-door salesmen, while others have deployed mailers, robocalls, sports sponsorships, and internet search ads. None of it resonates all that much. 

Musk, who turned 45 on Tuesday, wants to change this daunting transaction in the same way the Apple Store changed the way we buy consumer electronics. Fifteen years ago, Apple Computer Inc. (as it was known then) faced problems similar to those hobbling solar today. Buying a computer was a big investment: They were complicated, the benefits uncertain, and the choices undifferentiated. Sound familiar?

With the opening of the first Apple Stores, electronics shopping turned from exasperating to joyful. Consumers got to touch and play with the products and ask questions from no-pressure salespeople. Early critics said the stores had too few products and would never make money, but before long the stores themselves became a destination.

Tesla showrooms are cast from the same mold. At the new Tesla outpost in Brooklyns Red Hook neighborhood, customers sip free espresso and chat about cars. People go there to learn about electric vehicles often for the first time, and much of the experience is focused on education. Central to all of the showrooms is a stripped-down aluminum Tesla chassis, so customers can get a feel for how the battery and electric motors work. You can even take a test drive with the kids in a tricked-out $130,000 Model X SUV, and no one will ever ask if you want to buy a car, let alone haggle over prices and options if you do.

This
This could be home to the Tesla Solar experience.
Photographer: Jasper Juinen/Bloomberg

For solar companies, one of the biggest costs is making that initial connection. For every dollar SolarCity spends on marketing, it installs only an additional half-watt of solar power, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF). To put that in perspective, a typical rooftop solar system in the U.S. is rated at more than 5,000 watts.

This is the biggest reason rooftop solar costs almost twice as much at SolarCity ($3.20 per watt) as similar systems in Western Europe or Australia ($1.70 per watt), according to BNEF. Most people in the U.S. just ignore the expensive marketing anyway: A BNEF survey found that 40 percent of buyers were referred by a friend or family, and 28 percent instigated the purchase themselves. 

Other retail companies have experimented with solar partnershipsincluding Home Depot Inc. and Ikeabut the strategy never really took off for these retail megastores. The solar industry is a product in need of an Apple Store, and Tesla happens to have hundreds of showrooms with very few products to sell. Critics of the SolarCity deal brushed aside the so-called synergy of selling cars and solar panels in the same location, but that may miss the point. Is a customer likely to walk in and buy both at the same time? No more likely than an Apple Store customer will buy an iPhone and a desktop Mac simultaneously. 

Instead, what ties the cars-plus-solar Tesla store together is an implicit guarantee of good customer service and sophisticated technology thats easy to use. Thats branding that can never quite come together so long as Tesla and SolarCity remain separate companies. But together, it just might expand the entire market for solar. A Tesla showroom finally answers that question asked by millions of homeowners: Where do I start?

Solar Problem No. 2: The sun goes down

Heres where things get interesting. Tesla isnt just a car company looking to buy a solar company. Its also a battery company that wants to link its two biggest markets: energy supply (solar) with energy demand (electric cars). Cheap and efficient batteries are what make Tesla cars possible, and they have the potential to change the economics of solar, too. 

The solar-plus-battery bundle hasnt really caught on yet. SolarCitys total bundled sales thus far number in just the hundreds. But thats because the batteries are still too expensive, and because a government policy known as net metering makes it more profitable to sell solar power back to the grid. Both of these obstacles are about to be flattened. Musk is betting that, in the next five years, the price of solar bundled with batteries will cost less than electricity from the power company.

A Tesla Powerwall battery currently costs about $3,000 for a 6.4-kilowatt-hour (kWh) battery, not including the considerable costs of the power inverter and installation. Thats a lot of money for a little bit of electricity. But Tesla plans to announce the first production of battery cells from its massive Gigafactory in Nevada later this summer: When fully up and running, it will produce more battery capacity than the entire global market for lithium ion batteries made last year. The scale is crucial for the rollout of Teslas mass-market Model 3 electric car, due in 2017.

When
When this battery factory is finished, it will have the largest footprint of any building in the world.
Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

By 2020, Tesla is aiming to bring the cost of battery packs down to about $100 per kWhfrom an industry average of $1,000 in 20101according to RBC Capital Markets analyst Joseph Spak. At that price, a Tesla Powerwall battery could cost as little as $640 to make. With an integrated Tesla Solar company, the additional costs of bundling a battery with a $25,000 rooftop solar system would be minimal. At that point, it almost makes sense for Tesla to install batteries as standard with every new solar project.

Net metering rules, which require electric utilities to buy back rooftop solar from customers at retail rates, are the biggest U.S. subsidy for solar power. But as solar power spreads, the policy will begin to destabilize grid economics. Several states have reversed their rules already, most notably Nevada, where the abruptness of the turnabout left customers in the lurch with overbuilt solar systems and no way to recoup costs. Higher-capacity battery storage will eventually allow solar customers to profit from their solar systems with or without net metering. It’s investment security for the homeowner.  

A group of solar firms and utilities are pushing to keep net metering rules in place until at least 2020, according to Peter Rive, SolarCitys chief technology officer. After that, the company plans to begin including batteries with most of its solar systems, Rive told investors on a May 9 call. 

Next Up: Tesla Energy

Everything described thus far is the beginning, not the end, of the possible advantages of “Tesla Solar.” What comes next is more speculative, but perhaps more profitable. Basically, there are regulatory changes that are coming to U.S. utility markets that could allow Tesla to dip into one of the most lucrative businesses in the power sector. Tesla could become a sort of power company itself.

Musks intentions are larger than simply adding a third product category, said BNEF analyst Hugh Bromley. The future of Telsa Energy could be in energy services.

The idea is that Tesla could create its own electricity network, aggregating bits of power from thousands of batteries and rooftop solar systems it installs for customers, and sell that energy back to the grid when demand is greatest. This could be used to provide the grid with extra generating capacity during hours of peak demand. But an even brighter market for a network of lithium ion batteries may be to smooth out the tiny surges and shortfalls of the electricity supply that occur throughout the course of any given day. 

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A power plant for your basement.
Photographer: Ian Thomas Jansen-Lonnquist /Bloomberg

This is the most popular service for stationary storage, as it pays so well, said BNEF analyst Julia Atwood. And it pays so well because the provider has to respond incredibly quickly and accurately, which is something batteries do very well.

If Tesla produces the cheapest lithium ion batteries available, and it begins to offer them standard with every rooftop solar system that Tesla Solar sells, it could suddenly find itself in control of a very large supply of flexible battery storage. The proceeds could be shared with customers directly or used to subsidize the upfront cost of rooftop solar installation.

This is the dream, said Yayoi Sekine, a BNEF analyst. But there are so many hurdles to get there. 

Aggregating battery and solar capacity into a virtual power plant isnt a particularly new idea, and its one that companies like SolarCity and Enphase Energy Inc. have flirted with in the past. It just hasnt yet had the scale or the regulatory freedom that the business requires. But California, New York, and Texas are all working on plans that would allow this very scenario to play out.

Why now, and why SolarCity? 

SolarCity
SolarCity does all of its own installations.
Photographer: Michael Nagle/Bloomberg

Without a merger, Tesla could continue selling batteries to various solar installers, including SolarCity, but its would always compete in a commodity market for the cheapest battery. The solar project itself would be branded SolarCity (or Vivint or Sunrun), instead of using the Tesla name, and it wouldnt be Tesla that aggregates and profits the most from its batteries.

Tesla and SolarCity also have complementary product announcements coming up that make sense for the timing of a deal. Tesla is about to cut the ribbon on the worlds biggest battery factory and unveil the next version of its Powerwall battery pack. SolarCity is getting ready to reveal a new line of high-efficiency panels that it developed from its acquisition of California startup Silevo Inc. in 2014. Musk said he wants to put his mark on those panels, which will be produced in the largest U.S. solar panel plant, which is still under construction. 

Like Teslas cars, SolarCitys new panels will be made in the U.S. and sold by the companys thousands of in-house installers. Here are some of the plant’s particulars:

SolarCitys Panel Gigafactory

  • Cost: $750 million
  • Location: Buffalo, New York
  • Manufacturing capacity: 10,000 panels a day
  • Power: 1 gigawatt of panels a year
  • Panels: Industry-leading efficiency; Musk promises new aesthetics that add value to the home
  • Start date: 2017

The acquisition really couldnt have happened with another solar producer. SolarCity has the right scale of operations and the American-made panel factory. Its also hopelessly tangled up with Tesla already. Theres only one member of SolarCitys board who doesn’t have direct ties to Tesla, and two-thirds of Teslas shareholders already own shares of SolarCity.

While the timing does complicate Teslas unprecedented ramp-up of its Model 3 electric car production, the competition for electric and autonomous cars is only going to get more fierce. Companies including Apple, Volkswagen AG, General Motors Co., and Daimler AG have all committed to electric vehicle programs to challenge Tesla. Musks ambition creep is all his company has ever known, and is probably all it will ever know if its going to succeed against the biggest technology and automobile companies in the world.

Is SolarCity a major distraction for Tesla? Probably. Does it add existential risk to both of these long, cash-torching bets? Most likely. Are the conflicts of interest messy? Definitely. But could the deal also result in the worlds first clean-energy juggernaut, a company that does for solar power, batteries, and electric cars what Apple did for computers, phones, and software apps? Its worth considering.

Watch Next: Tesla Model X Isn’t Just a SUV, It’s a Lifestyle 

Tesla Model X Isn’t Just a SUV, It’s a Lifestyle

Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-06-29/-tesla-solar-wants-to-be-the-apple-store-for-electricity

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Selena in the press room at the 1994 Grammy Awards in New York City.
Image: Photo by Vinnie Zuffante/Getty Images

Selena will be getting a posthumous star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2017.

The announcement was made by Walk of Fame committee chair Vin Di Bona on Tuesday, who also shared the laundry list of other recipients for 2017, including Dwayne Johnson, Chris Pratt, Tyra Banks, Lee Daniels, Ice Cube and more.

Not to be overlooked: *NSYNC (not just Justin Timberlake) will be getting the honor as well. Hopefully this means a reunion photo of some kind.

Here’s the full list of stars in every category:

  • Film: Amy Adams, Jason Bateman, Goldie Hawn, Dwayne Johnson, Chris Pratt, Brett Ratner, Ryan Reynolds, George A. Romero, Mark Ruffalo and Rita Wilson

  • TV: Tyra Banks, Andre Braugher, Ken Corday, Lee Daniels, Hugh Laurie, Eva Longoria, Wolfgang Puck, Keri Russell, Haim Saban, George Segal, Sarah Silverman and Jeffrey Tambor

  • Recording: Clarence Avant, Jerry Goldsmith (posthumous), Hall & Oates, Ice Cube, John Legend, *NSYNC, New Edition and Selena (posthumous)

  • Live Theater Performance: Criss Angel, Jeff Dunham, Gustavo Dudamel

  • Radio: Elvis Duran

Selena’s posthumous star is particularly significant for fans, a symbol of her enduring legacy after the 23-year-old’s untimely death in 1995. She was nicknamed the “Queen of Tejano music,” releasing hit songs like “Como la Flor” and “Bidi Bidi Bom Bom.”

Have something to add to this story? Share it in the comments.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2016/06/29/selena-walk-of-fame/

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24-year-old Philip Jones, left, was homeless and addicted to drugs but has turned his life around with the help of soccer.
Image: thomas boyer/street soccer usa

This story is part of the SF Homeless Project, a collaboration of more than 70 media organizations reporting on homelessness.

SAN FRANCISCO When Philip Jones first heard of Street Soccer USA, he wanted to play.

Program director Ben Anderson made a pitch for new players at the shelter where Philip was stayingin 2014: Get some exercise, meet new people and see where things go from there. It sounded good.

Philiptried to find the field for what felt like an hour. He became more desperate as he searched, and recalls“running around like a madman” through thestreets of San Francisco. But he just couldn’t find the field.

Problem: Philip was, in his own words, “high as shit” on crystal meth. Meth was his “drug of choice” when he was at his lowest. Living on the streets, selling narcotics, using them even more, stealing, sleeping wherever he could “it got real dark,” Philip says.

But that was 2014.

Eventually not that day, but eventually Philip found the game.

The ‘untold story’ of homelessness in San Francisco

A man outside his tent on Division Street in San Francisco in February 2016.

Image: Eric Risberg/AP

On a sunny, cool afternoon this June, Philip is atMargaret S. Hayward Playground in the city’s Western Addition, wearing a gray Street Soccer hoodie, black baseball cap and Nike Huaraches. Along with three other Street Soccer staffers, he’s coaching about a dozen kids through drills and scrimmages.

“Who wants to be goalie?” Philip asks.

Three hands shoot up. Three voices squeal, “Me!”

Hmm.

“Who wants to be goalie first?” Philip asks, this time with a smile.

Philip is 24 years old. He’s tall, with dark brown skin, thick black eyebrows, black fuzz on his chin and dreads that hang to just below his ears. His voice is soft, but he speaks with confidence.

Philip is doing well now. He works for Street Soccer, and has a receptionist job too. He lives in housing for at-risk young people run through theLarkin Street Youth Services program, a nonprofit that provides services to homeless youth. He’s been sober and on the straight and narrow for more than a year. He’s also back in school.

Philip’s story represents a very specific, sizable, segment of San Francisco’s homeless population: Young people, and others who don’t fit the most prevalent stereotypes.

Philip and Street Soccer colleagues work with youth in the Western Addition on a recent June afternoon.

Image: sam laird/mashable

More than 1,400 young people were on the street during a point-in-time census conducted by the 2015 San Francisco Homeless Count & Survey.A quarter of San Francisco’s homeless population first becomes so between 18 and 24, according to the same survey, while the portion of the city’s overall homeless population in that age range increased from 15 to 17% between 2013 and 2015.

Philip is young, and he’s always had an eye for fashion. In other words, he doesn’t fit the stereotype many have of the typical person who is homeless in San Francisco.

“People tend to overlook someone who doesn’t fit their perception of what a homeless person is.”

“We feel like that can be the untold story of homelessness,” says Nora Brereton, associate director of At The Crossroads, a non-profit that aids homeless youth in the heart of the city. “People can be wearing nice clothes, out there hustling and selling drugs, or even working a full-time job but additionally they’re hungry and don’t have a place to sleep.

“People tend to overlook someone who doesn’t fit their perception of what a homeless person is, panhandling in a certain neighborhood.”

At The Crossroads provides counseling to about 330 homeless youth per year and works with a total of more than 1,100 youth annually. It serves a diverse population that’s approximately 60% African American, 18% white, 13% Latino and two-thirds male.

Philip’s own descent into homelessness began with a case of consumer lust.

Into the darkness

Philip plays with kids at a Street Soccer program in the Western Addition.

Image: ben anderson/street soccer usa

Street Soccer isn’t Philip’s first contact with the sport. He played goalie as a kid, and was good enough to get recruited by a competitive team. Around fifth grade, he wanted to try other positions, but his coach insisted on keeping him in goal.

“So one day, I just sat down on the field and let the other team score goals,” Philip says.

That was it for soccer at least for many years.

Philip was raised in Oakland, then moved with his mom to Pacifica at age 10. She later married a man with some money and a son of his own. They all moved in together. Now therewere summer vacations to Europe and Hawaii.

Philip says he’d always “had what I needed” as a kid, but there hadn’t been many indulgences with a single mother working hard to provide. Suddenly, he lived withan older stepbrother who had the freshest sneakers and the coolest clothes things Philip wanted.

In middle school, he sold pot for the first time. It provided spending money and more.

“My motive was to fit in,” Philip says.

Meanwhile, he struggled with focus and social anxiety at school.At 17, he was arrested for the first time after stealing clothes from a store in Daly City. It only got worse from there.More stealing. More arrests. More and harder drugs.

Eventually, addiction.

People pick up their belongings after San Francisco officials clear out an encampment in 2013.

Image: AP Photo/San Francisco Examiner, Mike Koozmin

By age 21, Philip was living on the streets of San Francisco for days at a time. Then his mom kicked him out and street life became full time. The Tenderloin, the Mission District and Potrero Hill were his haunts.

“By then, my personal drug use was to the point where it was a bit darker being in abandoned houses, smoking meth all day, it got real dark,” Philip recalls in an interview at Street Soccer’s Civic Center office. “I’d be in and out of jail.”

Finding positive energy and recovery

Philip, right, with Street Soccer USA’s Rob Cann.

Image: Sam Laird/mashable

Seated at the Street Soccer office, Philip just finished his coaching shift in the Western Addition. After his original, failed and “high as shit” attempt to find the game in 2014, he credits Street Soccer as one of the pillars of his recovery.

“It’s being able to dedicate myself to something and understand that if I put positive energy toward something, I’m going to get positive things back,” he says.

Philip continued his descent into addiction after he failed to find the Street Soccer game for the first time. More and more drug and theft cases piled up against him. As it became obvious he was headed for serious jail time, if not death, Philip finally committed to rehabilitation for his drug addiction.

While in rehab, he’d sometimes walk past friends playing in Street Soccer-organized games. He’d watch for a couple minutes, yet be unable to join because of the conditions of his program. But he finished rehab, kicked his addiction and has been playing soccer ever since.

Street Soccer, a national nonprofit that’s active in 16 cities, aims to use the sport as a way to help homeless adults, and homeless and at-risk youth. It runs rec leagues for working adults to help raise funding for its mission, while corporate partnerships provide more support. U.S. Men’s National Team regular Chris Wondolowski will host a celebrity match when Street Soccer’s2016 Cup Series comes to San Francisco in July.

In San Francisco, Street Soccer serves about 75 homeless adults annually through service centers, job training and soccer leagues and practices, according to chief operating officer Rob Cann. About 90% of participants in Street Soccer’s youth and adult programs are homeless when they join. Many likeJimmy Flebotte become success stories.

Team Street Soccer USA Bay Area (Philip is back row, third from the right).

Image: street soccer usa

Philip’s is another success story. He’s cultivated a structure and support network through Street Soccer, recently traveled to Philadelphia to play in the organization’s National Cup and was part of a group whose concept won an app design contest.

Then there’s the coaching job, which is new this summer.

But even a sunny, pleasant afternoon in the Western Addition shows the fragility of life in one of San Francisco’s most overlooked and underserved neighborhoods.

A thin line in the Western Addition

As Philip and his Street Soccer colleagues work with kids on a pitch set up on an outdoor basketball court, other children laugh and play at a nearby play structure. On the other side of the play structure, past a driveway, a child and a woman play catch on the Margaret S. Hayward Playground baseball diamond.

A wheelchair ramp behind the backstop leads to the corner of Gough and Golden Gate. On that wheelchair ramp, about a half-dozen men with shopping carts lean seated against a wall. Two of the men begin shooting up.

This is life in the Western Addition, where the blurry line between poverty and homelessness exists far from the more famous corridors of Haight Street and Market Street. Sheryl Davis is director of Mo’ Magic, a non-profit that works in the neighborhood and was founded by the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office in 2004.

“Here’s the deal We can actually pinpoint and say about 40% of the people we work with would be considered homeless,” Davis says. “But the actual numbers are much higher because people are using other people’s addresses to get access to services even though they don’t really have homes.”

Kids test their skills through Street Soccer USA at Margaret Hayward Playground in the Western Addition.

Image: Sam Laird/Mashable

Cann, Street Soccer’s chief operating officer, also sees firsthand the disconnect between the widespread concept of homelessness and its less-obvious manifestations. Many of the young people who join Street Soccer don’t fit the idea people might have in their minds.

“They by and large don’t have drug addictions and aren’t mentally ill. They aren’t sitting on Haight Street with their dogs,” Cann says. “They do what is logical in my mind spend the little money they have on looking like they aren’t homeless. Buying a cellphone, things that make it so you think they’re just another citizen when you pass them on the street.”

It’s a mindset Philip knows, too.

While homeless, he might not have had money, “but I’m wearing everything brand new. That was kinda my thing for a while.”

But that was some time ago. That was before things reached their worst and before Philip began to turn his life around.This past Christmas brought a different kind of gift a priceless gift.

A birthday, and a new set of challenges

Philip at the opening of Street Soccer USA Park earlier this year.

Image: thomas boyer/street soccer usa

Philip’s mom divorced the man she married when Philip was young and moved to a new place a while back.But last Christmas she invited him to spend the nightfor the first time since kicking him out three years ago.

No matter what I do in this world, there’s one person who’s going to always love me.

They didn’t do much mostly just hung around the house. But six months later, Philip is still visibly touched by the invitation and experience.

“There’s been times when I’ve been in jail or on the streets and woken up and felt like I wanted to die,” he says. “But on those days I’d always think, ‘No matter what I do in this world, there’s one person who’s going to always love me. She might not agree with me, but she’s going to love me.'”

Things are different now. Philip just finished his first semester of school in half a decade. He pulled down As in both his classes, which covered music and design. Sober more than a year, he tries to stay grounded in the day-to-day but also thinks about the future.

The young man who stole clothes as a teen now has notions of a career in fashion design or advertising, while making music on the side.

But uncertainty also looms.

Demonstrators flash their message during a protest for more aid for San Francisco’s homeless population in February 2016.

Image: Eric Risberg/AP

When Philip turns 25 in November, he’ll age out of the support system Larkin Street Youth Services provides. He’s tracked down another program that helps subsidize rent for adults, and has managed to save a bit of money since getting off the street. But particularly in San Francisco’s tech industry-fueled and notoriously brutal rental market that birthday is a bit daunting.

“I’m not gonna act like it doesn’t stress me out,” Philip says. “But I know there’s something for me.”

‘The difference between a good day and a bad day’

Philip after a recent game at Street Soccer USA Park, located in San Francisco at3rd Street and Terry Francois Blvd.

Image: Ben Anderson/Street soccer usa

As he considers his future at the Street Soccer office, the room Philip gets to live in until he turns 25 is just blocks away. He used to roam the surrounding streets while out of his mind on crystal meth. A mile west is Margaret Hayward playground, where he now teaches soccer to kids growing up amid precarious circumstances in a neighborhood that often goes ignored.

With moving pieces all around him and an uncertain future ahead, one thing Philip knows for sure is that he wants to stay involved with Street Soccer.

“It’s one of those places where you can test, ‘Hey, if I show up every day, what’s going to happen? If I go above and beyond and cheer on my teammates, what’s gonna happen?'”he says.“It helps you refocus and reestablish yourself with positive things.”

And the goalie who once staged a protest by letting the other team score? He plays midfield now, and has a lot more fun.

“There’s not a day that goes by that’s perfect,” Philip says. “But understanding that I have the ability to get the support that is going to help me get through is the main thing I had to overcome with being on the street. It’s the difference between a good day and a bad day.”

Read more: http://mashable.com/2016/06/29/sf-homeless-project-street-soccer/

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Exploring the answers to tomorrows energy challenge is at the heart of Shells Make the Future campaign and their flagship event, Make the Future London. Shell is committed to supporting bright energy ideas and this event will excite, entertain and explore how we can be part of the journey to a low-carbon future. Make the Future London will be happening at the iconic Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park from 30th June to 3rd July.

Here are the inventors you can expect to see and interact with at the event.

bio-bean

bio-bean CEO Arthur Kay was an architecture student at The Bartlett, UCL, when he was set the task of designing a coffee shop. He quickly realised that coffee was being wasted everywhere and set out to address the problem. A little research into the oily sheen that forms atop coffee left out overnight showed that what we view as grainy leftovers are in fact highly calorific and have the potential to create a power source. Kay began to wonder if the grains could be used to create sustainable energy, and the rest is cappuccino history!

Now, three years on, bio-bean is an award-winning clean technology company that recycles waste coffee grounds into advanced biofuels. Working with coffee factories, coffee shops, restaurants and offices, bio-bean collects waste coffee grounds and produces solid and liquid biofuels biomass pellets and briquettes for heating and biodiesel for powering transport systems.

Considering around 200,000 tonnes of coffee are wasted every year in London alone, Kay realised hed hit on a winning eco-idea. After graduating in 2013, he gathered startup funding and support from Shell through the Shell Springboard programme – which supports low-carbon SMEs. bio-bean now operates from a London HQ, laboratory and the worlds first waste coffee recycling factory.

bio-bean has created a variety of genius ways to repurpose coffee grounds, including the creation of biomass pellets, coffee logs, biodiesel and biochemicals. In 2015 the company launched nationwide collection services and opened a waste coffee recycling factory at Alconbury Weald. The bio-bean factory can process 50,000 tonnes a year, the waste from one in ten cups of coffee drunk in the UK!

As a 2014 Shell Springboard finalist and an exciting participant in the Make The Future London line-up, bio-bean will be offering hot dogs straight from the barbecue, with a twist. The fuel used on the BBQ is made from waste coffee grounds will you be able to taste the difference?

GravityLight

Who knew that gravity could create light? The GravityLight Foundation hopes to bring sustainable light to the estimates 1.5 billion people who lack access to electricity worldwide. Designers Martin Riddiford and Jim Reeves at London startup Deciwatt won the 2015 Shell Springboard grant with GravityLight, an invention which takes just seconds to lift a weight that powers a lamp, creating 20 minutes of light on its descent. The nifty device works using a 12kg bag threaded through a patented electricity-generating device which powers an LED light the technology generates safe light with no risk of burns, house fires or kerosene-related illnesses.

GravityLight could replace the biomass fuels mainly kerosene lamps which so many families in the developing world rely on for light. Co-creator Jim Reeves tells of the dangers of current electricity alternatives: Millions of these people are forced into the poverty trap of using kerosene, which can consume as much as 30% of household incomes. GravityLight reduces a familys kerosene spend and will pay for itself within just two to three months of making the switch.

By reducing the dependence on kerosene GravityLight hopes to make a difference to world health. Currently over a million people in India alone have suffered severe burns as a result of using dangerous kerosene lamps replacing that kerosene with gravity will create a safer, sustainable future.

You can take the GravityLight challenge for yourself at Make the Future London using just everyday objects you can fill your own weight bag and hoist it up just as you would to power a GravityLight. Its a race against the clock!

Pavegen

Born in a Brixton bedsit with just four employees, Pavegen develops and manufactures flooring technology that converts the wasted kinetic energy from human footfall into renewable energy. This clean tech energy source can power applications such as lighting, signage and communications networks in both indoor and outdoor environments. Started by entrepreneur Laurence Kemball-Cook in 2009, the company now has 40 permanent staff across the world, and theyre on the up!

After securing a startup grant from the Shell LiveWIRE Grand Ideas Award fund – and funding from the Shell Springboard 2013 finals – Pavegen installed floor tiles across 22 countries around the world in 2014. These included a Walk the Light experience at Heathrow Terminal 3, which powers LED lights situated along the walls of a busy corridor. Pavegen has also worked with Shell to install two football pitches one in a Favela in Morro da Miniera, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and one in Lagos, Nigeria with kinetic tiles beneath the pitch which, combined with solar power, powered the pitch floodlights at night.

Make the Future London will host an interactive football challenge between London and Lagos. A Pavegen eco-pitch will be installed at the event where school students from London will be given the chance to compete against opponents in Lagos. The competition will be introduced by none other than the football legend Pele in London.

If you’re not a student but you still want a piece of the action, you will also get the chance to run on the Pavegen tiles to ‘charge’ up the countdown clock then score as many goals as possible before the charge runs out.

In addition to showcasing the bright energy ideas from these inspiring entrepreneurs, Make the Future London will play host to a range of immersive experiences designed to encourage conversation about the energy challenge. Experience the answers shaping tomorrow – #makethefuture.

Get your free tickets to Make The Future London here!

Read more: http://mashable.com/2016/06/29/london-clean-energy-startups/

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Image: mashable composite.  kevin winter/getty.  jeff swensen/getty.

While the Jenner and Kardashian daughters stand by Hillary Clinton, Caitlyn Jenner remains firmly in Trump’s camp.

“Trump seems to be very much for women,” the Olympian said in a recent interview focused on health and the trans community.

Jenner does not provide any evidence of this statement.

Jenner, who has been outspoken about her conservative politics, says Obama has been good about transgender issues, but challenges the assumption that Democrats are better for the LGBTQ community.

“[Trump] seems very much behind the LGBT community because ofwhat happened in North Carolinawith the bathroom issue,” said Jenner.“He backed the LGBT community.”

Jenner does concede that no one really knows much about Trump’s policies.

“[I]n Trumps case, theres a lot more unknowns,” she said. “With Hillary, you pretty much know what youre gonna get with the LGBT community.”

Have something to add to this story? Share it in the comments.


Read more: http://mashable.com/2016/06/29/caitlyn-jenner-trump-women/

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If you were asked to throw like a girl, what would you do? Would you hurl the baseball with all of your might, or would you flail your arms and throw a weak pitch?

Leo Burnett and the othercreators of the #LikeAGirl social experimentpondered the same questions and wanted to see how real women, men, and prepubescent girls and boys would react if put in this real-life scenario. The results are at first a bit alarming, but at the same time amazing and very eye-opening.

During the #LikeAGirl social experiment, women, men, and prepubescent girls and boys areasked to show the cameras what it physically means to run like a girl, throw like a girl, and fight like a girl.

The contrasting results are surprising. The prepubescent girls perform these actions with fierce confidence and pride. The older women, the man, and the prepubescent boy, however, perform these actions in a self-deprecating and frivolous manner, further reinforcing thenegative female perception.

Apowerful question is thenproposed on the screen: When did doing something like a girl become an insult?

It turns out that this mentality evolves over time and is reinforced with age. The #LikeAGirl social experiment reveals that when young and impressionable girls grow up, they begin to internalize the negative connotations of what it means to do things like a girl.

While the grown women and men and the prepubescent boy fall victim to this, we can learn so much from the positive reactions of the young girls. They areunknowingly true advocates of themselves and their gendernot to mention impressive pillars of strength.

We cant challenge these negative female perceptions alone. Others have zeroed in on how we can empower females, such as the Swedish Dove campaign that challenges conventional views of beauty, andmodel Olivia Campbell who embraces her body with the utmost love and confidence.

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Read more: http://www.littlethings.com/like-a-girl-social-experiment/

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Remember field day as a kid? The beanbag races and the tug-of-war were always fun, but the obstacle courses were a real hoot!

Eric, the DIY Dad, is bringing back that joy and also doesnt want his kids to die of boredom in the backyard this summer, so hes come up with a DIY Kids Obstacle Course that is super easy and affordable. And as a matter of fact, you most likely already have the materials needed to embark on thisDIY project!

All you need is duct tape, wooden stakes or dowels, beanbags, outdoor balls to add some flair to the obstacle course and pool noodles.

“The more pool noodles, the better, Eric adds in the BabyLeague video, which is affiliated withFamiLeague, a TV network made up of family sports and inspiration.

With three adorable kids with golden hair and tons of energy, the DIY Dad slides the pool noodles over wooden stakes to make arches, vertical noodles, and hurdles. He also creates a ring toss, a jump-through ring ladder, and a water ball toss into three rings across the yard. Lastly, the kids can run through the vertical noodles, and then they can run and make their way to the finish!

All the kids appear to have a blast and the DIY Dads little daughter even attempts to do the kids obstacle course in kids plastic heels! The tiny baby also gives it a go! Too cute!

Were really excited about this one because this one is going to get us up and moving, he said. Its going to get our heart rates going and its going to add some competition to the mix, too!

You can also use pool noodles to create other cool DIY projects, such as a DIY Pool Toy Organizer, an easy summertime solution to messy backyardsand aDIY Pool Noodle Sprinkler thats perfect for some affordable summer fun!

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Read more: http://www.littlethings.com/diy-dad-creates-kids-obstacle-course-with-pool-noodles/

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More and more people are reconsidering their impact on the planet. Downsizing doesn’t sound like much fun initially, but it creates new and interesting challenges for designers. And often, it results in some truly amazing little homes.

We’ve seen a lot of tiny houses of all kinds, but one of our favorites are the homes made from repurposed shipping containers.

The sturdy, plain metal boxes are surprisingly versatile, and can become everything from luxurious little houses to accessible and affordable hospitals offering care to those in need.

Today, we’re looking at a shipping container home in Houston, Texas, that serves as a country retreat for those looking to get a little peace and quiet.

Built by architectural companyBackcountry Containers, the Rustic Retreat is just that. It’s a converted shipping container that gets you out of the madness of modern life, but also comes equipped with its conveniences, like plumbing, power, and insulation.

The cool thing about the Rustic Retreat is that it can function both on- and off-grid, so you can hook it up to your local power and water supplies, or generate your own power and use a reservoir in more removed places.

And also? It’s adorable. The bright blue of the container adds to its charm, and it even comes with an optional rooftop deck for even more peace and quiet appreciation. Check it out below!

[H/T: Tiny House Swoon]

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The Rustic Retreat is a tiny country getaway made from a repurposed shipping container.

It looks modern and sleek due to its metal exterior, but it works perfectly in the country, and sports rustic touches like the rooftop porch and front deck.

The interior walls, appliances, and other homey details are built via the container’s original doors. Those doors are then sealed up to form the home.

Inside, it’s cozy, functional, and stylish.

Some wood flooring and paneling makes it look less sterile and more homey, too.

The couch here folds out to sleep three people, and actually comes with the house.

Inside is a small kitchen area for basic food preparation. As a weekend getaway sort of place, it doesn’t have a full stove, but the porch outside would be a perfect place for a grill!

The house can operate both on- and off-grid. That means it can be hooked up to receive power and water from the local grid, or it can be hooked up to a generator and reservoir and be completely self-sufficient.

The sinks, shower, and toilet are also all also water-saving appliances for an even smaller footprint.

And despite its name, the Rustic Retreat can be placed anywhere.

The homes are built to order by Backcountry Containers, and ship all over the U.S.

Backcountry Containers imagines the Rustic Retreat, which costs about $30,000 without the additional porches, as a perfect place for a weekend getaway in the woods, a hunting or fishing spot, or as a backyard retreat.

Form the rooftop deck, you can fully appreciate your surroundings, too. Sitting up here as the sun goes down seems like the nicest way to end your day!

This cute home is available via the Backcountry Containers website. Or, if you’re not looking to shell out for your own, you can also keep up with their latest projects on Facebook.

And be sure toSHARE this adorable getaway with anyone who knows that to live big, you sometimes have to go small!

Read more: http://www.littlethings.com/rustic-retreat-container-house/

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Michael Phelps swims in a men’s 200-meter butterfly semifinal at the U.S. Olympic swimming trials, Tuesday, June 28, 2016, in Omaha, Neb. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Michael Phelps is heading back to the Olympics.

So is Missy Franklin.

Phelps, the most decorated athlete in Olympic history, held off a stiff challenge from Tom Shields to win the 200-meter butterfly at the U.S. swimming trials Wednesday night. Phelps whipped around to look at his time a bit slower than he probably would’ve liked and held up all five fingers on his right hand.

Yep, it’s Olympics No. 5, making him the first male swimmer to compete in that many Summer Games.

Franklin, meanwhile, turned in one of the gutsiest performances of her career to earn a spot for Rio in the 200 freestyle. One night after she struggled to seventh in the 100 backstroke an event she won four years ago in London there was plenty of speculation that she’d be hard-pressed to qualify for any individual events at these games.

Franklin herself sounded as though she’d be happy just getting on the team as a relay swimmer.

Turns out, she’ll be busier than that.

While Katie Ledecky romped to victory in the 200 free, earning a second individual event at the Olympics, Franklin rallied over the second half of the race to claim the second spot. Ledecky touched in 1:54.88, following up her easy victory in the 400 free.

Franklin was next at 1:56.18, edging out Leah Smith by just under a half-second. Allison Schmitt, the defending gold medalist, settled for fourth but that will at least be good enough to get another star from the London Games on the team as a relay swimmer.

Phelps, who retired after the last Olympics but soon reversed his decision, took the 200 fly in 1:54.84 far off the world record of 1:51.51 he set at the 2009 world championships while wearing one of the high-tech suits that have since been banned.

But there’s time to work on his speed between now and Rio. For now, Phelps is thrilled to be going back to the Olympics, where he’ll get a chance to add to the already staggering amount of hardware he’s accumulated at the last four Olympics: 18 golds and 22 medals overall.

Going along for the ride this time is his first child, 7-week-old Boomer, who watched from the stands in the arms of his mom. The infant wore noise-canceling headphones adorned with American flags so he wouldn’t be startled by the huge roar that went up when his daddy touched the wall first.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/sports/2016/06/29/phelps-locks-up-trip-to-5th-olympics-franklin-going-too.html

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Image copyright Neil Krug
Image caption Natasha Khan – aka Bat For Lashes – tells the tragic story of a would-be bride on her new album

“I cry my eyes out at every wedding,” confesses Natasha Khan, who sings under the name Bat For Lashes. “I find them really emotional and really beautiful.

“I think getting married is the biggest heroic journey of all.”

On her new album, The Bride, Khan finds herself crying at a wedding for entirely different reasons.

She plays the title character, a flawed heroine who discovers her groom has been killed on his way to the church. Devastated, she runs away in her honeymoon car, pursued by her own grief.

“I just love a tragedy,” says Khan. “I love heartbreak as a vehicle for weaving through emotion.

“I was reading about scriptwriting at the time and in a short film, it’s really good for something to happen in the first few minutes that sets the character off on a different course.

“So for me, it’s this idea that this woman has found everything she ever wanted and what happens if that gets taken away? What happens if you had to take a honeymoon alone? Perhaps the only person you have to fall in love with is yourself.”

This last point is key. On the album’s opening track, I Do, The Bride sings: “Tomorrow, you will ask me if I do and all of the sorrow will drop away.”

“Real relationships aren’t like that,” Khan says. “Sometimes people, especially women, can look at the idea of marriage as something that’s going to save them.

Image copyright Neil Krug
Image caption “I do believe in the spirit realm,” says Natasha Khan

“We’re fed that romantic ideal and I think it can be really dangerous. If you don’t feel good about yourself, [marriage] is a dangerous path to tread.”

Two tracks later, the fatal blow is dealt, and The Bride sinks to her knees in a disorientating blur of jagged synths.

“It felt like the best musical representation of panic and numbness and madness,” says Khan. “It’s quite psychedelic because when you have a trauma or you get really bad news, it’s like an out-of-body experience.

“So that image of her falling to her knees could be really melodramatic and tacky. But it’s really just a metaphor that I’m using to get to the heart of the matter – which is existential crisis and loss and grief.”

But over the course of the album, The Bride never completely succumbs to sadness. On Widow’s Peak, she makes the decision to fight back. “It’s a moment where she could lose everything,” says Khan, “when grief turns you into something you don’t want to be, where it hardens your heart like a Miss Havisham character.

“That’s the part where she could go to the dark side, but she doesn’t.”

Elsewhere, on the spooky, disquieting Close Encounters, she reconnects with her groom-to-be who “lays me down” on “the other side”.

“In the film, it’s a moment where they make love in the ether. She gets her wedding night, but it’s kind of ghostly,” Khan says.

Like that scene in Ghost?

“Sexy pottery will not be featured!” she laughs. “But I do believe in the spirit realm.”

Candlelit concerts

The album took shape over two years, written as a soundtrack for a yet-to-be-made feature film.

To make The Bride come to life, Khan built up an extensive library of images, cuttings, diaries and reference material. The deluxe edition of the album even includes handwritten letters between the character and her fated fiance.

Image copyright Neil Krug
Image caption Bat For Lashes hopes the story will become a film, and is currently working on a script

She was assisted in this by photographer Neil Krug – best known for his collaborations with Lana Del Rey – who helped create visual references and, eventually, the pictures of Khan as The Bride that decorate the artwork.

“He’s a very humble and quiet and gentle person,” she says. “He does everything on an old Polaroid and then colours it, so it’s a real labour of love. He’ll spend hours cleaning the photographs of dust and he’s got a very kind of analogue, organic process which I think, in this world of iPhones, is very rare.”

To inhabit the role, Khan – who isn’t married herself – had to acquire her first wedding dress.

“I didn’t shop for one, I designed one, darling!” she deadpans. “The dress and the veil were very sexy and very rock and roll in some ways, because she’s a hyper-real, pumped-up bride.”

Khan has been wearing the dress again as she previews the album in its entirety at a series of candlelit church hall concerts, where the audience are encouraged to dress in their Sunday best

“The first night was the most nerve-racking thing I’ve ever done,” she says. “I walked down the aisle and everyone stood up and turned around and clapped.

Image copyright Neil Krug
Image caption “If you experience loss early in life it can become a blueprint… fear that you’re going to lose the people you love,” says Natasha Khan

“It was such a heightened emotion to see it all coming together in reality – this thing that’s been in my mind for so long. I felt like I was her, and it was a big weight to get into her headspace. To go through that emotional arc every night. That’s why I’m not doing loads of shows.”

But although The Bride project is high-concept, the music is breathtaking in its subtlety and depth. The Bride’s loss is visceral, her emotional fallout pitch black.

It is quite possibly Khan’s strongest work yet and, despite the fictional narrative, one of her most personal records.

“Singing as the character of The Bride helps me deal with a lot of emotions and feelings that are real, but within the context of storytelling,” she told fans in a recent Facebook Q&A.

The 36-year-old won’t get too specific about those feelings. “It’s hard to talk about it without getting really personal,” she says. “But both in separation and in death there’s a feeling of abandonment and within that feeling comes anger, and yearning and all those similar emotions.

“I think if you experience loss early in life it can become a blueprint. You experience fear in relationships, or fear that you’re going to lose the people you love.”

It is possible the singer is referring to her parents’ separation when she was 12, but she also talks about the losses sustained through death, or simply growing apart.

“Whatever it is, I think it’s just part of being a human being. We come alone and we die alone and other people leave you. How do you cope with that and remain open-hearted?

“I find it really interesting, in today’s climate of Tinder and all that, there’s all these promises of romance and all this disenchantment.

“A lot of women friends of mine have become really hardened and cynical. When you’re hurt enough times, it’s really hard to keep your heart open.”

The Bride, however, escapes this hardening of the heart.

“At the end, she looks back and says, ‘Actually, I’m the person I am now because of that loss – and I’ve grown as a human being and I feel thankful.’

“I think that’s the greatest love of all. Not worrying whether a person is with you or not – that ownership, ego thing. That’s true love.”

The Bride is out on Friday, 1 July on Parlophone Records.

Follow us on Twitter @BBCNewsEnts, on Instagram at bbcnewsents, or email entertainment.news@bbc.co.uk.

Read more: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-36595489

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