Blog of Urs Riggenbach

Back in San Francisco, Interviewing Near Future Summit
and Autodesk on Sustainability and Impact

Posted Monday 21 May 2018 by Urs Riggenbach.

Interview with Zem Joaquin, founder of Near Future Summit as she mentions her favourite quote by Bill McDonough: “We need to love all children of all species for all time.”

After a great showcase of the SOL5 at Near Future Summit, Will and I returned to San Francisco early last week. Apart from following up on the many conversations started at the conference, we had the pleasure to interview some of the inspiring people that are building the near future.

We got to interview Zem Joaquin, founder of Near Future Summit and learn about her inspiring approach to sustainability, as well as staff members of Autodesk Foundation that are supporting our work. This post covers some impressions from the interviews.

Joe Speicher, Executive Director at Autodesk Foundation, on how Autodesk Foundation is advancing design for impact.
Jean Shia, Head of Portfolio & Investment at Autodesk Foundation talking about how they supported our piloting phase.
Ryan Macpherson, Portfolio and Investment Manager at Autodesk Foundation talking about his first-hand experience visiting to our Kenya bakers.
Ben Thompson, Head of Employee Impact at Autodesk, talking about Autodesk's pro-bono programme for employees to support impact initiatives.

More to come. Stay tuned!

Showcasing the SOL5 at Near Future Summit

Posted Friday 11 May 2018 by Urs Riggenbach.

Today we had an amazing showcase of our SOL5 at Near Future Summit! Everyone got to experience the power of the sun, snack some tasty solar cookies and learn about our impact.

This was an exciting opportunity for us to spread awareness on solar thermal and make new connections to boost our impact.

Here are a few snapshots of the event.

The SOL5 in full steam: Baking solar cookies for the inspiring crowd at Near Future Summit 2018.
The first batch of solar cookies comes out of the SOL5.
Baking at 400°F we were able to run many batches during lunchtime.
Will Cleaver of in front of our stand at the conference.

Solar Baking Demo at Pier 9, California

Posted Friday 4 May 2018 by Urs Riggenbach.

Today we did a solar bake at Autodesk’s Pier 9, as part of our preparation for next week’s Near Future Summit. A curious crowd of people stopped by to see the SOL5 in action, and we spent a sunny afternoon baking pizzas, cookies, and my new favourite: "Pão de queijo" - Brazilian cheese bread.

As you can see we finished the paint work we blogged about earlier, and now our SOL5 shines in red! Here are our impressions of the day.

Liz Nugent, Brand Partnership Manager at Autodesk, with Will and Urs of the GoSol team. Liz facilitated our participation at Near Future Summit and will be with us next week in San Diego.
A curious crowd of people from Autodesk, Pier 9 and Autodesk Foundation joined our demo.
Oven at 375°F / 190°C - perfect baking temperature for Brazilian Cheese Bread - Pão de queijo
Not even when you see it you believe it. But touch the solar heat and you will know!
Trent Still, Workshop Manager at Autodesk Pier 9, taking a break from working in Pier 9's amazing CNC shop and sharing with us the first bite of solar baked cookies!
Beto Borges, Director at Forest Trends, thinking about how this technology could empower indigenous people of the Amazon. And yes, he is the one who brought the Pão de queijo!
The first freshly baked goods are ready. We left the pizzas in a bit longer and heated the oven to 500°F / 260°C to get them nice and crisp!

Our Californian Solar Concentrator turns One Year Old!

Posted Thursday 3 May 2018 by Urs Riggenbach.

The SOL5 solar concentrator we built during our Impact Residency at Pier 9 last year just turned 1. It was safely tucked away in storage taking up precious space at the Pier, but when Will and I reached the Pier last week, we were relieved that the technology easily stores and all pieces kept. We were able to assemble the SOL5 in under an hour and get it back to working temperatures! Big thanks to Sherry and Pier 9 team for taking care of it so well!

During the Impact Residency our focus was on applying CNC and other digital fabrication technologies to our manufacturing process. The CNC based fabrication method allows for super fast installation time, and all parts are now flat and shippable. One thing we didn’t have time for was a proper paint job for the SOL5, and now the bare metal pieces have caught some rust from the salty sea air.

At the time of this post, Will and I have already scrubbed down most of the rust, and will be in the shop the next 2 days doing the paint works. Happy birthday Pier 9 SOL5!

Here are few snaps from the first assembly test:

Will Cleaver inspecting the mirrors that were in storage. They have kept very well.
Urs Riggenbach, happy to see the oven functioning after a smooth assembly with all parts working.
Pointing out the rust that needs to be removed before the paint job.

Next week we’ll be taking this SOL5 on quite a ride: Roadtrip down to La Jolla, San Diego, where we’ll be showcasing it at Near Future Summit.

Before I get back to the shop, the color we are going to paint it in is: Glossy red. It’s going to look great. Stay tuned for more!

Announcing Partnership with TAMK

Posted Friday 27 April 2018 by Urs Riggenbach.

Tampere University of Applied Sciences is a higher education institution oriented towards working life and RDI co-operation. Their strengths are multidisciplinary education, creativity, and a strong international dimension.

Our cooperation with TAMK is focused on advancing sustainable development through final theses projects, lecturing and co-creation projects. We are supervising students interested in our technology and we are preparing summer school projects together.

Our project being deeply rooted in education since the beginning, we are more than happy to see that this partnership is working very well since a few months already!

Video: Impact Residency at Autodesk Pier 9

Posted Tuesday 19 December 2017 by Urs Riggenbach.

Watch how Autodesk Foundation and Pier 9 supported this year on our path to design, develop and spread our entrepreneurial solar thermal solution!

Listen to Sherry Wong of Pier 9, Zoé Bezpalko of Autodesk Foundation and Eerik Wissenz, William Cleaver and Urs Riggenbach of talking about our achievements in Kenya, Tanzania and how Autodesk’s technology center Pier 9 supported the innovation process.


More about Autodesk Foundation and the Impact Residency at Pier 9:

The Autodesk Foundation supports the design and creation of innovative solutions to the world’s most pressing social and environmental challenges. The Impact Residency provides a unique opportunity for Foundation grantees to use the resources of the Autodesk Pier 9 Technology Center in San Francisco to iterate on their own designs aimed at having a positive effect on the future of our planet and in our daily lives.

Impact Residents have access to the training, tools and machines, software, and human expertise Pier 9 offers. The ability to iterate and deploy solutions quickly is made possible by rapid prototyping on-site, direct access to the teams who built the software used in the design process, and expert workshop staff.


Further Links:

Autodesk Foundation

Autodesk Pier 9 Technology Center

Pier 9 Residency Program

GoSol speaks at Autodesk University

Posted Wednesday 4 October 2017 by Urs Riggenbach.

Our Executive Chairman, Eerik Wissenz, was a speaker invited to the last Autodesk University in Cape Town, South Africa, on September 7th and 8th.

During his talk, "Breaking the poverty cycle with solar entrepreneurship", he presented the results of our pilot projects in Kenya and Tanzania and our full model to break the poverty circle in developing countries. He also highlighted the work we’ve done in San Francisco at Autodesk’s facilities and how we’ve used Autodesk tools to improve our engineering and design process.

Autodesk Foundation also hosted round table talks to discuss and share experiences and challenges in sub-Saharan Africa.

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