Performance figures for each account are calculated using time weighted rate of returns on a daily basis. The Composite returns are calculated based on the asset-weighted monthly composite constituents based on beginning of month asset mix and include the reinvestment of all earnings as of the payment date. Composite returns are as follows:

Solving Energy Poverty To Create Economic Opportunity

As we contemplate the daunting challenge of transitioning the world’s economy to renewable sources of energy, we tend to think in terms of scarcity. But that isn’t the reality the electrical industry faces. Rather, it’s abundance. When a utility builds a wind- or solar-powered plant, typically a third of the energy it produces gets wasted.

And the problem could get worse. About US$750 billion was invested in the renewable energy space last year, and the amount will almost certainly increase this year, explains John Belizaire, a computer scientist and CEO of Soluna Computing in Albany, NY. That creates congestion as new plants go online in the same areas at the same time.

“Lots of projects would like to put their power on the grid but they can’t,” Belizaire said in conversation with Nicola Wealth advisor Ron Haik recently on the LEAD Impact podcast. “The grid is designed for synchrony between the supply of power and the demand for that power. And as you put on more intermittent sources — solar, wind and hydro is really controlled by nature — you have lots of energy that never makes it to the grid.”

For years, the industry’s solutions to this problem focused on better transmission capacity and grid-scale battery facilities, with mixed results. But Belizaire and his company, coming at it from an outsider’s perspective, stumbled upon a different approach. Contracted to study the feasibility of building a data centre to absorb excess power produced by a power plant in Morocco, “we modeled it and it completely worked,” he recalled.

Then the pandemic broke out, and the Soluna team was constrained from travelling. They started talking to power generators, schedulers and grid operators in the U.S. about building modular data centres at the sites of existing power plants to absorb excess energy when it’s available and convert it into computing services that can create a new revenue stream for the producers.

There are two kinds of server-level computing, Belizaire pointed out. There are real-time, mission-critical applications that must be on all the time. But there are also ancillary, research-type applications that support decision-making or other apps. They happen in the background and are “batchable.” They can start and stop. They happen to include some fast-growing activities like cryptocurrency mining, artificial intelligence and machine learning.

It’s this second category of computing services that can make use of renewables’ excess power and relieve the grid at peak times. Soluna now has 50 megawatts of such paired data centres up and running and another 300 mW in its pipeline under development.

But Belizaire has higher ambitions. He envisions using batchable computing centres to help improve the economics of power plants across the developing world and so bring reliable electricity to billions of people still in the grip of energy poverty. He foresees these projects creating high-value jobs in the communities where they’re built.

“Once you solve energy poverty, you create economic opportunity,” he said.


This material contains the current opinions of the author and such opinions are subject to change without notice. This material is distributed for informational purposes only. Nicola Wealth is registered as a Portfolio Manager, Exempt Market Dealer and Investment Fund Manager with the required securities commissions.