Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Weather Entrepreneurs

Here are a couple news items about unusual, weather-related entrepreneurial efforts:

  • The Economist profiled a Canadian engineer, Louis Michaud, who wants to create artificial tornadoes as a source of power. If you’ve ever seen a wind farm, you know that humans already get power from wind. The traditional challenge has been to engineer ever more efficient wind turbines to convert wind to power. By contrast, Michaud is attempting to engineer more powerful wind. In essence, he wants to create the conditions that give rise to a natural tornado. The result would be a real tornado, albeit one (according to Michaud) confined to a single place and controlled in intensity, and thus instrumentable for generating power.
  • The New York Times had a long article about companies attempting to do business in the Arctic. Included is the story of Pat Broe, who in 1997 bought a disused port in northern Canada, paying the Canadian government $7 (yes, $7; $10 Canadian at the time). But now, with the Arctic ice cap having shrunk to its smallest size on record, Arctic shipping lanes are becoming possible for ever longer stretches of the year. For some ships, these lanes can offer shortcuts that save thousands of miles. And conveniently, Broe now has a port along one of the key routes. He’s estimating potential revenues up to $100 million yearly. He also owns the rail line out of the port, which he snagged after the Canadian government denationalized it.

Apparently, playing the weather futures markets wasn’t enough fun for these guys.

No comments:

Post a Comment