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Smart Grid Progress in Russia

Earlier this month, Cisco and the Federal Grid Company of Russia signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that establishes a long-term collaboration to improve the reliability and efficiency of the country’s power grid.

This MOU is the latest concrete step that Cisco has taken to help transform Russia’s energy infrastructure. Just about a year ago, Cisco set the mark by announcing a $1 billion investment in Russia over the next decade to drive entrepreneurship, sustainable innovation and energy efficiency. The investment includes the development of a collaboration model with Russian business in verticals such as smart grid.

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Cloudy With a Chance of Data Center Savings

June 29, 2011 at 10:00 am PST

Ah, weather – one of life’s multi-purpose tools.  Conversation filler (“Quite the weather we’re having.”), alleged indicator of world’s end and source of inspiration for comic book writers to empower heroes and villains alike.

Weather can also be a Data Center’s best friend.  Solar energy can be harvested to help generate power, for instance, such as is happening at Cisco’s Data Center in Allen, Texas.  (Look for the 100 kW solar array on the right side of the Data Center’s roof.)  Wind energy as well.  Rainwater can even be collected for cooling system usage or to irrigate landscaping.

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Behind the Scenes with Alice Waters: WebEx On-Demand Delivers Delicious Insights

In early 2009, Michelle Obama started working to get us re-focused on healthy eating. She brought back the White House garden with the goal of bringing homegrown food into the White House. This kind of garden was a dream of California chef Alice Waters.

Alice a leader in the movement to use locally grown organic foods.

She had discussed her idea for a White House garden with Mrs.Obama and she organized a Washington dinner before President Barack Obama’s inauguration that served foods bought from local producers at an area farmer’s market. Mrs. Obama and Ms. Waters made the headlines again yesterday.

We had a chance to meet with Alice Waters in her kitchen where we held a live WebEx with her in Berkeley! It was a terrific discussion and she even shared a quick recipe with us.

Click here to watch the WebEx.

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Cisco TelePresence Turns Cities “Smart”

June 2, 2011 at 8:54 am PST

A trip to the DMV -- a thought that causes mild apprehension and dread -- can require a lofty time investment. By lofty, I mean that if you go on your lunch break, don’t count on being home for dinner. It’s just one of those necessary hassles we’ve come to grudgingly accept.

But behold the DMV in the energy efficient city of the future, and behold it from your living room couch: a Cisco TelePresence connection that lets you renew your license in your PJs. No emissions from the drive to the office. No lines once you get there, which helps to conserve your energy -- and sanity.

It’s all part of the development of Smart Cities —energy efficient urban centers of the not-so-distant future. With telepresence, Cisco is on the cutting edge of these cities’ evolution.

Witness Songdo, South Korea, a new city built with the “greenest” of standards. Cisco is working with Songdo’s developers to put telepresence technology in every home, with the aim of reducing energy consumption. At the GigaOm GreenNet conference in April, Cisco’s Marthin De Beer discussed telepresence’s role in Songdo and 100 other urban development projects, including a retrofit of Charlotte, North Carolina. In Charlotte, Cisco partners with the city and its utility to decrease building energy use by 20 percent.

De Beer noted in his remarks that telepresence has saved Cisco $800 million in travel expenses during the last five years, writes Greentech Grid’s Eric Wesoff. Translate those savings into municipal dollars, and you find more money for education, infrastructure, and countless social services. Cities adopting Cisco TelePresence technology stand to not only curb energy consumption, but also to enrich the lives of their residents (and DMV employees) in many ways.

I don’t know about you, but the grass sure is looking greener on the smarter side of town.

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The Winds of Change: How Cisco is Helping First Wind to Connect and Secure Its Assets

First Wind, an independent energy company focused on utility-scale wind projects in the U.S., is using communications technology to more efficiently manage their operations and produce wind power.  First Wind has deployed a unified Cisco network throughout various parts of its operations to support data, video and voice communications for lowered costs and greater reliability. And today at AWEA Windpower 2011, Cisco and GE announced a collaboration that will provide wireless connectivity to the First Wind’s site in Milford, Utah.

Why is this important? Wind power is a small, but rapidly growing, source of energy. Wind accounted for just 1.3 percent of total U.S. electricity generation in 2008, but over the past decade, wind turbine use has increased more than 25 percent per year and experts forecast it will be able to generate one-third of the world’s electricity by 2050.   How is that possible?

While the concept of generating power from wind is fairly easy to understand, the actual operation of a wind farm is more complex. One of the major challenges is wind turbines tend be built in areas like shorelines, on top of hills and in open plains. These areas are remote, and the turbines themselves are often spread over a wide range, making them difficult to access. For example, First Wind’s Milford site is a four-hour drive from the nearest airport and the wind turbines are spread over 42 square miles.

This is where a unified IP-based wireless network can create efficiencies. The GE/First Wind deployment at Milford provides up-tower and down-tower wireless to all 39 GE turbines.  The network also supports voice, video and data communications. This enables technicians to collaborate with GE and share data on the operations, leading to less downtime and increased production.  Information from the turbines, including high-def images, can also be shared with utility companies as well.

Another major challenge wind farms face is security. Energy producers in the U.S. commonly face security threats like vandalism and theft.  Cisco’s Physical Security solution running over First Wind’s IP-based network helps control physical access to sites and allows central management of security from any of its six locations nationwide. Via the network, First Wind can also monitor assets with real-time video surveillance, and because the physical security systems are IP-based, the video can be integrated with physical access controls for comprehensive security and control.

For First Wind, and for wind power globally, this is just the beginning. Technological innovations will continue to push the envelope for what energy producers can achieve, including cutting costs, security, customer interaction, meeting regulatory demands, and environmental sustainability. It’s an exciting business and social opportunity, and we’re only just seeing the tip of the wind turbine!

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