Clement Charles

Clement Charles 's thoughts

Archive for the ‘Green Power’ Category

June 3rd, 2014 by Clement Charles

The Future of Shopping

As many consumer industries, the shopping and retails is investing great amount of thoughts into its future. And IT will logically be an important part of that future, to improve productivity, relation with clients, and monitoring operations.

In that logic, CISCO is like .- in any industry – investing a lot of effort to showcase what could be the future of the shopping experiences.


On the other side of the cash register, PayPal has also a interesting – and well funded – vision for the future of shopping.


IBM is pushing a more “short term” vision

What closer from your vision ?

June 2nd, 2014 by Clement Charles

Solar Panels Roads

I loved that video on roads made of solar panels.

A huge buzz around my personal social web over the past two weeks. Great idea. Looking forward to see it live.

April 4th, 2014 by Clement Charles


Amazing. And scary. Good to read it’s only a sim.

PTWC’s near real-time animation for the tsunami from northern Chile on 1 April 2014 resulting from an offshore 8.2 magnitude earthquake in the region. The animation shows simulated tsunami wave propagation for 30 hours followed by an “energy map” showing the maximum open-ocean wave heights over that period and the forecasted tsunami runup heights on the coastlines.

November 3rd, 2013 by Clement Charles

Meet the artificial bacteria

Man-constructed organism are nearly there. Meet the artificial bacteria !

August 7th, 2013 by Clement Charles

ITU’s Green Standards Week set for Madrid, 16-20 September 2013 (pr)

ITU’s Green Standards Week set for Madrid, 16-20 September 2013 (pr)

Focus on advancing smart sustainable cities

Geneva, 6 August 2013 – The Third ITU Green Standards Week is set to tackle an agenda featuring ‘Smart Sustainable Cities’, e-waste, mobile device eco-rating schemes, and climate monitoring and disaster warning using submarine communications networks.

The 2013 event is being organized by ITU and hosted by Telefónica in Madrid, Spain, 16-20 September 2013, with partners comprising the Basel Convention, CEDARE, UNEP, UNESCO-IOC, the United Nations University, and WMO along with sponsors such as Huawei and Fujitsu.

The event’s agenda includes a High Level Segment on Smart Sustainable Cities, the second meeting of the ITU-T Focus Group on Smart Sustainable Cities, 17 September, as well as the prize-giving for the Telefónica-supported 3rd ITU Green ICT Application Challenge, 18 September.


July 4th, 2013 by Clement Charles

Future Cities (2): let’s float !

What will be the future of cities ? Maybe, floating. Not surprising for people living in the Netherlands, but surely new and exciting for the rest of us.
To grasp the topic, check that video from our partners Reuters news.

In more specific view, you may enjoy this great video. Architect Vincent Callebaut proposes his futuristic concept, titled “Lilypad”, would essentially allow a city to reside on water. The metropolis would float and house as many as 50,000 people.



To conclude with some “design concept”, I am sure you will enjoy this 2009 videos on current project on floating / underwater cities.

July 3rd, 2013 by Clement Charles

Future Cities: part 1 – TEDx Talks by Tobias Wallisser

To start this series of curated video on Future Cities, I think you’ll enjoy this 2010 TEDx Talks  Tobias Wallisser, from UNStudio in Amsterdam. UNStudio is my perspective one of most innovative architecture firm around – I discovered them through Taschen books.


After studying architecture in Berlin, Stuttgart and New York, Tobias Wallisser worked in the United States, Netherlands and Germany. For 10 years Tobias was Associate Architect at UNStudio in Amsterdam, where he was responsible for a series of high profile projects like the Stuttgart Mercedes-Benz Museum which has attracted worldwide attention for its innovative spatial concept.


June 18th, 2013 by Clement Charles

Food for tomorrow. Bon appétit !



The question of food for tomorrow is more than central for any one that knows that you don’t do much with an empty stomach. Despite many development and increase in productivity, food supply is not yet (at all) guaranteed. In that context, I wanted to share with you two very interesting, rather exciting for totally different ideas in terms of future of foods.

Based on the image above, I want to share with you the interview with the smart, innovative and shocking couple behind the After Agri project. Discover their tools to produce algae with your breath, to get nutriments from saliva or to cook human placenta for health !!! Impressive, sometime gross, the art work is always asking relevant questions. Read the full interview here.


In more practical way, I wanted to share with you this video form the “springfield seed library”. A bit long, not very well filmed, but the presentation and the content shared by architect designer Joseph Krupczynski is really exciting. Personally, I would advice any one that owns a free tin box to start its own seedbank, by collecting seeds in the nature, the streets, the parks, the garden and even some times, buy some in shop and during travel. If you can access some soil and you plan / are planning to do some gardening, leaves some of your crop go to seed, and collect them. Seeds are like any other kind of information: the more dispersed, the better  ; )

Artists and the Future—Art, Food Systems, and Civic Engagement: The Springfield Seed Library from Louisa McCall on Vimeo.


June 6th, 2013 by Clement Charles

(A part of) the future of renewable energy will be Swiss

What a great day in Neuchatel last week. Invited by IEEE and CSEM, I followed a really rich conferences about solar energy, photovoltaic industries and tech transfer in Switzerland, and then had to moderate a round table with all the participant. 


On one side, CSEM is a private-public RTO (research and technology organization), and plays an important role in fostering technology transfer in Switzerland and has generated many spin-offs in the fields related to silicon and low power microelectronics. CSEM and its subsidiaries outside Neuchâtel work closely with local industrial partners such as the European Space Agency or Patek Phillip. On the other side, the IEEE is an international organization with a fantastic motto that I share and support: advancing technology for humanity. IEEE Switzerland was founded 53 years ago, and is one of the oldest section in Europe.


One of the reason the have that conference here and now is the recent interest of the Swiss Confederation to support research and green energy production, and the long lasting leading position of the CSEM in this field of research and tech transfer. 


Indeed, the Swiss Government, in the wake of the Fukushima tragedy, has committed to a plan for exiting completely from nuclear power generation within the next 20 years from now, there by pushing long term large scale use of renewable energies for filling the shortfall in continuous electric power (actually 40% of total national consumption) supplied by 5 nuclear power plants. Photovoltaics (PV), which enjoyed a long tradition of R&D in Switzerland, is beside geothermal and wind power one of the candidates to pick up a sizable chunk of that power shortfall. CSEM is building up a national PV-center which will play a leading role in this long term shift, especially now that residential grid parity is within reach for PV rooftop systems.


The day was rich and intense, with many intervention from top notch player in research, industry and tech transfer. I just wanted to share a few information about what stroke my mind.

The fact is here: Switzerland has been and still is at the forefront of PV development and research. Great news. Behind the labs wall, in white or clean room, engeneers are inventing, testing, building, all the component of the future of the solar industry. Flexible panel, pollution clean PV production, organic materials: everything exists and in many cases, could be or is commercially launched. 


The true question is not about brains: we know we have them here in Switzerland. It’s more about hands… Hands to produce (labor cost), hands to acquire (local volumes), hands to push it to the next level (resources to grow). Interestingly enough, in China, labor cost is only 2% of the cost the solar panel. All right. So, I guess in Europe and CH, it could be … 10% ? Even with 15 or 20%, this is actually not the problem, as everyone, including me, would think at the first look.  Adding to this that “Swiss Made” on panels would be a great sales argument. 


So where is the problem? The issue is more in the size of the market: is the market big enough  ? will there be a sufficient volume to sell what we produce ? Enough turnover to finance what we’ve invested to produce ? Even if those questions are still theorically open, the answer seems to be no. No, as investors are not yet interested to sufficiently finance product roll out. No, as government, did or are stopping their policy of supporting green energy production by buying it at higher price. No, as Swiss companies are closing (Flexcell in Yverdon) or acquired by companies that have a long, maybe longer, market vision (Oerlikon Solar, bought in Japanese company Tel). 


An other interesting element is the cost in energy to produce the devices that produce energy… Yeah, it’s a kind of endless loop. Those cost are never accounted in traditional energy production – extraction is included in the cost of petrol and carbon footprint, but the co2 generated to produce the driller isn’t. It’s even less the case in the nuclear energy production, where the real massive cost are fully out of the equation. Indeed, waste management and dismantlement of nuclear plants have indeed a great future of making our electricity bill rise and rise during the next years as they not included at all in today’s cost calculation. 


In that regards, PV and the solar in general is often criticized to be highly polluting when producing and possibly not efficient with weak sun. This was an other very interesting point I’ve learned at the conference. Indeed, unlike other that use their last energy reserve to dig deeper in the sand with their head, the PV industry and its research communities are well aware of those challenges, and in the process of solving them, one by one. To limit pollution, research are done to improve the techniques (it works), to find less polluting material (it’s close) and to fully capture all possible pollution at source (in progress). Sharper in those period of poor summers and cold spring, the question of the amount of sun and solar light is addressed with efficiency: increase the efficiency of each cell and of the panel (new material, sun chasing, angle adaptation) as well as selecting the most appropriate spot (i.e.: in CH, southern alpine region with a lot of sun). 


At the end of the conferences, I had to moderate the debate between all the speakers of the day, some further invitees and the audience. It was not a easy tasks, as everyone was very passionate and eager to speak about his field of expertise. The debate lasted for 50 minutes, before some drinks and dinner served at the event. 


From the debate, I’d like to highlight three ideas. First, a path of research with “biomimetic” technologies. Indeed, photosynthesis works well and there so much more things that nature could inspire us for. Indeed, nature is one of the only organization that already have invested 4.5 billion years in R&D to do great things. The second is the importance of the grid. Today, every production is really stable and constant, when renewable sources suggest for disrupted and irregular flows of production. Which creates big problems to the grid. Well, every one agrees that this gris is a bit “stupid”, as it can accept regular 50hz current, and could, should or would need to become “smart”. Smart grids are a huge topic in both the utility and the IT industry, throwing names like IBM, Cisco, Siemens, General Electric, Schneider in a common playing field. More than smart, the grid will also need to become flexible with more storage. We currently store energy on battery or by wildest means, such as pumping water back at the top of an altitude dam to produce new energy when the water passes through the hydroelectric plant while getting down. There again, there is tons of things to think and do, to plan and execute. Last but not least, the panelist identified the services industry as hug opportunity: no matter where PV are build, you will always locally grounded people to install, maintain and repair all those infrastructures.


In the end, the position of Switzerland appears me as great, potentially leading but needing some real and sincere reinforcement. We have an incredible amount of brains, research infrastructure and existing institution in the field. We had a great advance that we ‘ve have maintain, and that we stay still catch up. In my perspective, the main issue is velocity. A company like Flexcell had great product at acceptable price but were not time to market and did not had the resources to wait until timing was right. And timing is getting slower as government supports is decreasing and and as, current generation are paralyzed by the growing fear of the “size of tasks” of switching to renewables. This last point is what media,  politicians and institutions can and need to change. All of those  opinion leader must address a updated optimist message to the public and the decision takers.. Yes, it will be hard work, but a lot of fun too. Yes, work market will be disrupted but more qualified jobs will come out of it. 

Yes, it will require change, but change for the better. 

Yes, things will be different tomorrow, better or worse, it’s our current choice.


Clement Charles, Neuchatel 30.05.2013 / Geneva 06.06.2013




A Special Thanks To 


For that event and opportunity to participate, I also wanted to thank Hugo Wyss (IEEE), Aline Moser (CSEM), Florence Amez-Droz (CSEM) and Marco Giardina (IEEE, UNINE), all the great speakers (full program below) and the audience that filled the room until the very last chair (some were even standing up).  




Full Program

Welcome addresses from Mario El-Khoury, CEO, CSEM SA President IEEE (elected on the same day)
Advanced PV technologies : contributions of the CSEM PV-center and EPFL PV-Lab in Neuchâtel
Christophe Ballif, Director of PV Center, CSEM SA
PV as important pillar of the global energy mix – Importance of fast technology transfer from science to industry
Andreas von Känel, CEO of Pasan and Head of Process intelligence Division of Meyer Burger AG
Thin Film Micromorph Tandem: From research to manufacturing
Johannes Meier, Head of Research, TEL Solar-Lab SA
An engineer’s experience onboard of the PV-driven Planet Solar circumnavigation of the world Christian Ochsenbein, Member IEEE & team PlanetSolar 2011/2012
Printable organic photovoltaics at CSEM and the Sunflower EU integrated project
Giovanni Nisato, Business and Technology Development, Thin Film Optics, CSEM SA
Thin-film solar cells & modules: a personal & historical perspective
Arvind Shah, Honorary Professor, Founder of the PV Laboratory Institute of Microtechnology (IMT) Neuchâtel
Round table led by Clément Charles, journalist, with: 
Hugo Wyss, Remigio Pian from Viteos and the speakers of the day

May 27th, 2013 by Clement Charles

Panel on photovoltaics and technology transfer

I will moderating a pannel  in a event co organized by CSEM and the IEEE, in association with CleantechAlps on tech transfer in the photovoltaics industry in Switzerland. You can download the full program of the event. Here is a few lines about the event and my interest for it.

As some of you may know, my interest in future tech does not stop at the border to screen or the last letter of the keyboard. I am also very interested by all types of clean tech and clean energy production. Not only essential to our survival as a species, I think it’s also a really exciting sector, in many ways like the proto-oil “before the major” era when the production was conducted by thousands of small independent energy provider.

More formally, I really agree with Jeremy Rifkin‘s vision of the Third Industrial Revolution and think that it’s more than time now to move on !

In that sense, I was really happy to be proposed to moderate and animate the upcoming panel debate Thursday in a event co organized by CSEM and the IEEE, in association with CleantechAlps. Just a reminder, the IEEE slogan is “advancing technology for humanity”… very close from my own personal moral.

The title of the event “ CSEM technology transfer and the case of photovoltaics in Switzerland – Neuchatel (CH)”. It groups the general assembly of IEEE Switzerland  with quality key notes: speakers from CSEM and industry will explain the actual status of photovoltaics in Switzerland, both from the R&D as from the production perspective.

Then, I will be moderating a panel round table with Hugo Wyss, Remigio Pian from Viteos, as well as all the other speaker of the day, to close the event.

In addition to the green tech side which is exciting, I also really glad to be included in an event about tech transfer, as I think the links between research and practices, between academics and businesses, is essential. Also, I think it should be increased, reinforced, and such ties would solves many of “ressources” problems on both ends of the pipes. SME needs more brains, Universities needs for funds.


Registration is free but compulsory for attendees.