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South Australia is Building the World's Largest 'Virtual Power Plant'

4000 people have already signed up, but can this effort at renewable energy succeed after previous attempts have led to blackouts? 

On Sunday, the premier of South Australia, announced a plan to create the world’s largest virtual power plant, a network of 50,000 home solar systems using Tesla’s Powerwall batteries.

The project will start with a trial run on 1,100 households living in public housing, and will unroll over the course of four and a half years.

Participating households will have the 5kW solar panel system and 13.5kWh Tesla Powerwall 2 batteries installed at no charge. Instead, the system would be funded through both the sale of electricity and by taxpayers through an A$2 million ($1.6-million) government grant and a A$30-million loan from the Renewable Technology Fund, which is funded by the state government.

This is not the first time that South Australia has experimented with renewable energy. Since the early 2000s, it has invested heavily in wind energy, and went from one wind farm in 2001 to thirteen in 2010. As of October 2011, South Australia has seen a total of $2.8 billion invested in wind power investment — though the process of moving to renewable energy has not been without its issues.

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Jay Weatherill, South Australia's premier, announces the Virtual Power Plant. 

In September 2016, the whole electrical system of South Australia suffered blackouts when two tornadoes ripped out three power transmission towers, causing them to trip, leading to power dips in the grid. This triggered the activation of a protection feature on nine farms that led to a decrease in output of 456 megawatts in less than seven seconds.

An interconnector that connected the wind power to the rest of the electrical grid tried to make up for the lost electrical output, but because the change in output was so drastic, the load shedding control failed, and South Australia was plummeted into a statewide blackout. output was so drastic, the load shedding control failed, and South Australia was plummeted into a statewide blackout.

It was due to this incident, as well as the rising costs of electricity of renewables, that the state government invited Elon Musk to help stabilize the electrical grid, which his company, Tesla, did by building the world’s largest battery.

Still, not everyone is impressed. The Australian Prime Minister, Malcoln Turnbull, described Weatherill’s efforts as a “reckless energy experiment” — and some South Australian residents without power just might agree.

Media via Nick Lucchesi, Flickr

Which Soundbars Have the Best Quality? Try These 5 Brands

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If you’ve ever wanted to host a screening party, or you just really want to enhance your own entertainment experience, a soundbar might be a very welcome addition. But what is it? If you’ve ever seen magazine photos of a brilliant entertainment system, chances are you’ve seen an ambiguous looking long black box fixated somewhere in front of the TV. It’s basically a wireless speaker, meant to deliver optimized surround sound and bring the movie theater experience to your living room.

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As technology exponentially advances, it’s not beyond the realm of possibility to soon live in a world where humans can spawn babies with robots, or artificial intelligence wipes out humankind. It’s heavy stuff.

OpenAI, Former Elon Musk Firm, Is on the Brink of a New A.I. Era

The company is making great strides.

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OpenAI has caused controversy with its research. Last week, it announced the development of a language model, GTP2, that can generate texts with limited prompts. Given the human-written prompt “Miley Cyrus was caught shoplifting from Abercrombie and Fitch on Hollywood Boulevard today,” the system produced a believable complete story that continued with “the 19-year-old singer was caught on camera being escorted out of the store by security guards.”

Casper Glow: Hands on With Casper's Swanky Futuristic Night Light

At some point in my life, I slept normally. Can Casper's Glow Lights 

I’m not sure when it started, this distinctly millennial tendency of mine, but it must have been like John Green’s description of falling in love, “slowly, and then all at once.” At some point in my life, I slept normally. Now, I’ve developed a habit of drifting off to the soft glow of my laptop as it plays a well-worn episode of The Office.