Friday Green Numbers round-up for March 11th 2011

Green Numbers

And here is a round-up of this week’s Green numbers…

  1. Progress Energy investing approximately $520 million dollars in smart grid technologies

    IBM today announced that it has been selected by Progress Energy as the lead systems integrator for the utility’s smart grid program. Together the companies will transform Progress Energy’s networks by improving power efficiency, increasing power quality and reliability, and enhancing capabilities for renewable energy, energy storage systems and plug-in electric vehicles.

    Progress Energy is investing approximately $520 million dollars in smart grid technologies through its two utilities that serve approximately 3.1 million customers in the Carolinas and Florida. The total investment includes $200 million from a read on …

  2. FIRST Green ‘e-Watt Saver’ 7W LED Lightbulb (Product Review)

    For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) is a non-profit founded by inventor Dean Kamen over 20 years ago. It aims to inspire young people to learn about science, technology, engineering and math through challenging robotics competitions. To raise funds, they sell FIRST branded energy-saving LED lightbulbs (better than chocolate!). I had the chance to get my hands on one, so here’s my review read on …

  3. Can a Whole City Go Zero Waste?

    We’ve already seen how pay-as-you-throw trash metering can cut landfill waste in half, and we’ve witnessed whole cities make composting mandatory. So there’s little doubt that much, much more can be done by most cities to cut waste, and keep precious resources out of landfill. That’s why an announcement from my hometown that it will completely eliminate waste to landfill within three years is particularly exciting. But is it enough? read on …

  4. Carbon emissions from every public building in England and Wales

    The carbon emissions of every public building in England and Wales have been released, thanks to an FoI request by the Centre for Sustainable Energy. See what the data says about the read on …

  5. When Earth’s Human Population Was 18,500!

    Scientists have calculated that for a period lasting one million years and beginning 1.2 million years ago, at a time when our ancestors were spreading through Africa, Europe and Asia, there were probably between 18,500 to 26,000 individuals capable of breeding (and no more than 26,000). This made them an endangered species with a smaller population than today?s species such as gorillas which number 25,000 breeding individuals and chimpanzees (21,000).

    Researchers have proposed a number of explanations , such as read on …

  6. $44m Energy Efficiency savings whets AT&T’s appetite for more

    When John Schinter joined AT&T in 2009 as the company’s first energy director, he was charged with revamping the way AT&T manages energy consumption and developing programs to reduce use.
    In 2010, the telecommunications giant implemented a whopping 4,200 projects aimed at improving energy efficiency, AT&T announced today. The effort has generated $44 million in annualized energy savings, setting the stage for an even more aggressive read on …

  7. February Arctic Sea Ice Ties For Record Low As Global Snow Cover Remains High

    New data coming out of the National Snow and Ice Data Center reveals two things which may at first seem contradictory at first but aren’t: The extent of Arctic sea ice in February tied for a record low, while at the same time snow cover for January and February in the Northern Hemisphere remained extensive, ranking in the top six extents on record.

    Resolving the apparent but erroneous contradiction first, in the NSIDC’s words:
    Both linked to a strong negative phase of the Arctic Oscillation. A strongly negative AO favors outbreaks of read on …

  8. ABB wins $50 million solar order in Italy

    ABB has won a $50 million order from Phenix Renewables to deliver a 24 megawatt (MW) photovoltaic (PV) solar power plant in Lazio, central Italy.

    Once connected to the grid, the Phenix solar plant will supply up to 35 gigawatt-hours (GWh) of electricity a year, avoiding the generation of over 25,000 tons of CO2 emissions, equivalent to the annual emission of over 10,000 European cars.

    ABB will be responsible for the read on …

  9. IBM Names First 24 Recipients Of Smarter Cities Challenge Grants

    IBM today selected 24 cities worldwide to receive IBM Smarter Cities Challenge grants. The grants provide the cities with access to IBM’s top experts to analyze and recommend ways they can become even better place in which to live, work and play.

    The IBM Smarter Cities Challenge is a competitive grant program in which IBM is awarding a total of $50 million worth of technology and services to 100 municipalities worldwide over the next three years. Teams of specially selected IBM experts will provide city leaders with read on …

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Photo credit Unhindered by Talent


The importance of open standards for broad smart grid adoption


Photo credit Leo Reynolds

If you are not sure why open standards are important, you need to read this quote from the opening address of the The Southern African Telecommunications Networks and Applications Conference 2005, by then Minister of Science and Technology, Mosibudi Mangena:

The tsunami that devastated South Eastern Asian countries and the north-eastern parts of Africa, is perhaps the most graphic, albeit unfortunate, demonstration of the need for global collaboration, and open ICT standards. The incalculable loss of life and damage to property was exacerbated by the fact that responding agencies and non-governmental groups were unable to share information vital to the rescue effort. Each was using different data and document formats. Relief was slowed, and coordination complicated.

If the Internet weren’t built on open standards we might have found ourselves in a situation where you’d need an IBM browser to look at the IBM website, an HP browser to look at the HP site, a Microsoft browser to view the Microsoft site and so on. In fact it is the very openness of the standards on the internet which has led to its explosive growth and ubiquity.

Proprietary standards lead to vendor lock-in and to the crazy situation where if, for instance you buy a Sony digital camera, it typically uses Memory Stick cards that can be acquired only from Sony and a few select licensees, and this memory is typically much more expensive than alternative memory types available from multiple sources but which won’t work in Sony cameras.

In the Smart Grid space, standards are also extremely important. We need ensure that there is no vendor lock-in (i.e. if a utility has GE transformers, they need to be free to buy their smart meters from any smart meter vendor, not just GE, for example).

One of the most successful of the open standards has been TCP/IP, the protocol used for communicating data across a packet-switched network, like the Internet or almost all home or company networks. The next incarnation of TCP/IP is called IPv6. The advantage IPv6 has is that it allows far more items to be networked than is currently possible and that will be vital if we are to start networking the appliances in our house so they can participate in the Smart Grid. This is why companies like Cisco, who have no history in the energy space, are going to have a part to play in the roll-out of Smart Grids. Indeed Cisco have been talking up the importance of IPv6 for Smart Grids and creating ecosystems “to facilitate the adoption of Internet Protocol (IP)-based communications standards for smart grids.”

This explains why standards and interoperability are becoming really hot topics in the Smart Grid space at the minute. In fact that’s what the majority of the company announcements from last week’s Gridweek conference were about:

By far the most important announcement around Smart Grid standards though wasn’t from a company, it was from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). They presented for public comment a major new report on Smart Grid interoperability standards. That this document was launched by US Commerce Secretary Gary Locke should be an indication, not just of the importance of standards for Smart Grids but fortunately, just how important the Obama administration perceives them to be as well!

Cisco famously said that the Smart Grid space:

will be 100 or 1,000 times larger than the Internet. If you think about it, some homes have Internet access, but some don’t. Everyone has electricity access–all of those homes could potentially be connected

The only way Smart Grids will achieve that scale is if the standards required for that growth are drawn up and adopted.