The Internet of Things is bringing Electricity 2.0 that much closer

One of the reasons I started working with GreenMonk back in 2008 was that James heard my Electricity 2.0 vision, and totally bought into it.

The idea, if you’re not familiar with it, was that as smart grids are deployed, homes will become more connected, devices more intelligent, and home area networks would emerge. This would allow the smart devices in the home (think water heaters, clothes dryers, dish washers, fridges, electric car chargers, etc.) to listen to realtime electricity prices, understand them, and adjust their behaviour accordingly. Why would they want to do this? To match electricity demand to its supply, thereby minimising the cost to their owner, while facilitating the safe incorporation of more variable suppliers onto the grid (think renewables like solar and wind).

That was 2008/2009. Fast forward to the end of 2013 and we see that smart meters are being deployed in anger, devices are becoming more intelligent and home area networks are becoming a reality. The Internet of Things, is now a thing (witness the success of devices like Nest’s Thermostat and Protect, the Philips Hue, and Belkin’s WeMo devices). Also, companies like Gridpoint, Comverge and EnerNoc are making demand response (the automatic reduction of electricity use) more widespread.

We’re still nowhere near having realised the vision of utility companies broadcasting pricing in realtime, home appliances listening in and adjusting behaviour accordingly, but we are quite a bit further down that road.

One company who have a large part to play in filling in some of the gaps is GE. GE supplies much of the software and hardware used by utilities in their generation, transmission and distribution of electricity. This will need to be updated to allow the realtime transmission of electricity prices. But also, GE is a major manufacturer of white goods – the dish washers, fridges, clothes dryers, etc. which will need to be smart enough to listen out for pricing signals from utilities. These machines will need to be simple to operate but smart enough to adjust their operation without too much user intervention – like the Nest Thermostat. And sure enough, to that end, GE have created their Connected Appliances division, so they too are thinking along these lines.

More indications that we are headed the right direction are signalled by energy management company Schneider Electric‘s recently announced licensing agreement with ioBridge, and Internet of Things connectivity company.

Other big players such as Intel, IBM and Cisco have announced big plans in the Internet of Things space.

The example in the video above of me connecting my Christmas tree lights was a trivial one, obviously. But it was deliberately so. Back in 2008 when I was first mooting the Electricity 2.0 vision, connecting Christmas tree lights to the Internet and control them from a phone wouldn’t have been possible. Now it is a thing of nothing. With all the above companies working on the Internet of Things in earnest, we are rapidly approaching Electricity 2.0 finally.

Full disclosure – Belkin sent me a WeMo Switch + Motion to try out.

Ad Infinitum’s Insite helping companies save energy

Servers

Continuing my series of chats with companies in the data center energy management space, I spoke recently to Philip Petersen, CEO of UK-based ad infinitum.

Their product, called InSite, like that of most of the others in this space I have spoken to, is a server based product, front-ended by a browser.

InSite pulls the data directly from devices (like power strips, distribution board meters, temperature and humidity sensors) and stores them in a PostgreSQL database. Having an SQL database makes it that much easier to integrate with other systems for pulling in data, and also for sharing information. This is handy when InSite is connected to a Building Management System (BMS), it allows organisations to see what proportion of a building’s power is going to the keep the Data Center running, for example. And because InSite can poll servers directly, it can be used to calculate the cost of running server-based applications (such as Exchange, Notes, SQL Server, SAP, etc.).

I asked Philip about automation and he said that while InSite has an inbuilt Automation Engine, it hasn’t been deployed because “no client that we have spoken to has wanted to do that yet”. Demand for automation will come, he said but right now companies are looking for more basic stuff – they often just want to see what’s actually going on, so that they can decide on the best way to respond.

InSIte’s target customers are your typical medium too large organisations (ones likely to have significant IT infrastructures) as well as co-lo operators. Unlike some of the other companies in this space though, Ad infinitum were able to share some significant customer wins – Tiscali’s UK Business Services, Equinix and Cisco’s UK Engineering labs.

In fact, Cisco have published a Case Study on the Cisco.com website referencing this solution [PDF] and how Cisco were able to achieve a 30% reduction in IT equipment power consumption and a 50% drop in their cooling costs!

It’s hard to argue with a significant customer win like that!

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Photo credit JohnSeb

Green bits and bytes for Dec 16 2010

Green bits & bytes

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Some of the Green announcements which passed by my desk this week:

  1. We have written previously about the savings made possible by rolling out Digital Lumens Intelligent Lighting System (ILS) in a high-bay environment – well they have done it again! Their latest sale is to United States Cold Storage Inc., who deployed the ILS in its Hazelton Pa facility.

    USCS installed the lighting system in their recently built, 88,000-square-foot addition, and they can now light their facility for 3.5? per square foot per year, compared to 46? per square foot with traditional alternatives. USCS expects a return on investment of 14.6 months.

  2. SAP and PlaNet Finance’s joint project to help improve the incomes and living conditions for rural Ghanian women engaged in the Shea nut harvesting and Shea nut butter business posted a nice piece of good news during the week. Stanford University published a case study [PDF] which uncovered significant improvements in nut and butter quality. It also mentions how the women involved have organised into a network so they have a stronger negotiating position and they are achieving higher prices for their produce.
  3. JouleX is a company which helps organisations to monitor, analyse and manage the energy use and waste of IT systems connected to its internal network. JouleX announced this week that its JouleX Energy Manager (JEM) software has been accepted into the Cisco EnergyWise partner program – this enables Cisco to offer JEM as an energy management solution to its customers.
  4. Viridity, a data centre energy resource management software solution provider announced the appointment of Arun Oberoi to the position of President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO), effective immediately.
  5. According to a news release from Tropos Networks, Silicon Valley Power (SVP), the City of Santa Clara?s municipal electric utility, has selected Tropos? GridCom as the distribution area communications network for its smart grid program, SVP Meter Connect. SVP serves over 50,000 customers and it expects the SVP Meter Connect project to increase reliability of the utility?s distribution system and finally
  6. ERP software company Epicor announced [PDF] the release of their on-demand carbon accounting solution, Carbon Connect. Carbon Connect is a SaaS delivered carbon accounting solution which allows companies to identify, analyze, audit, track, manage, benchmark and report on their carbon emissions /environmental impact and energy consumption.

Photo credit .faramarz

The smart building space just got smarter

I attended an IBM Analysts recently in London where IBM briefed us on a number of announcements in the Smart buildings space.

Why do we need smart buildings in the first place? What problem are they solving? Well, according to IBM, worldwide, buildings consume 42% of all electricity generated and by 2025 they will be the largest emitters of greenhouse gases on the planet! That’s definitely something we want to start tackling sooner rather than later.

What exactly is a Smart Building?

Building controls

Old Building controls

A Smart Building is one which takes data from all of a building’s disparate systems – think lighting, air conditioning, water heating and pumping, access control, video and physical security, lifts, etc. and provides integrated control of those system. Also a smart building has analytics to report when there are problems with any of the building’s connected systems and it brings all this information together into management dashboards appropriate for the users and operators of the building.

Having access to this data and integrated control enables building owners/operators to reduce energy consumption, increase operational efficiency and by responding more quickly to alerts, to reduce maintenance costs. According to IBM, adding intelligence to buildings, can reduce energy usage by 40% and maintenance costs by anywhere between 10-30%.

IBM see this as an important emerging space so they recently announced new software, appliances and partnerships to help address it.

The IBM partnership with Schneider Electric has yielded a new smarter buildings solution which when deployed in Bryant University in Smithfield, Rhode Island saw:

a 15 percent reduction in energy consumption in its data center, with similar savings expected campus wide– across 50 buildings on 428 acres

Maximo Asset Management for Energy Optimization 7.1.1

Maximo for Energy Optimization 7.1.1

IBM’s latest version of their Maximo software can create a data-driven heat map of a data center room at any height (important because temperatures can vary wildly by height within a data center). The heat map is a useful too to see cooler spots where perhaps a little less air conditioning energy need be expended (by, for example, swapping out a perforated floor tile for a solid one).

Finally, IBM, as founder members of the Green Sigma Coalition, announced that AutoDesk have signed up as members of the organisation. The Green Sigma Coalition brings together leading players in the industry (IBM, SAP, Johnson Controls, Honeywell Building Solutions, Eaton, ESS, Cisco, Siemens Building Technologies Division, and Schneider Electric) to help clients optimise their buildings for energy, carbon, water and waste.

The addition of AutoDesk adds a new dimension to the coalition. Now it will be possible to design efficiency and sustainability in to building projects right from the beginning, which is obviously far better than trying to retrofit, after the building has been built.

The Smart Building space, a natural extension of smarter data centers, is one with huge potential for efficiencies and energy savings. There are lots of players diving into this space but very few of them have the breadth of vision, the installed customer base or the existing toolset which IBM already has at its disposal to make a credible play here. Fun times ahead.

Friday Green Numbers round-up 09/03/2010

Green Numbers

Photo credit trindade.joao

And here is this week’s Green numbers:

  • ?There?ve been multiple gigawatts of solar thermal power plants planned for various places in the California desert for some time, but finally some more of them are getting the approvals need so that construction can start: The US Bureau of Land Management has issued a final environmental impact statement for the 1,000 MW Blythe Solar Power Project; and the 250 MW Beacon Solar Energy project has received final California state approval as well.
    The smaller of the two first: Renewable Energy World reports NextEra Energy Resources has been given the green light by the California Energy Commission to begin construction on the 250 MW Beacon Solar Energy project.

  • Researchers at Columbia University have demonstrated that a layer of plants and earth can cut the rate of heat absorption through the roof of a building in summer by 84%

    Perhaps the greatest overall benefit of green roofs comes in tackling the “urban heat island” effect, which Gaffin suggests is responsible for two-thirds of New York’s localized warming over the last century. The conventional black rooftops that he calls “tar beaches” are major contributors to this phenomenon, absorbing and re-radiating the sun’s energy as heat. “We’re going to want to cool regional climate down, especially where people are living,” Gaffin noted. “So we’re going to have to confront the urban heat island effect.”

    While conventional roofs can reach temperatures of 80 ?C at 1.00 p.m. even outside of high summer, green roofs always stay closer to ambient temperatures. “These [conventional roofs] are almost dangerously hot spaces,” Gaffin told environmentalresearchweb. “That’s a huge heat load that we can get rid of.”

    Plants in green roofs regulate their temperatures through evapotranspiration. “They evaporate copious amounts of water,” Gaffin explained. “That takes a lot of energy and means it’s a great way to stay cool.”

  • Energy efficiency is THE core climate solution. It’s the biggest low-carbon resource by far. “Efficiency Works” [PDF], a major new report by Bracken Hendricks, Bill Campbell, and Pen Goodale, finds that a straightforward set of policies aimed at upgrading just 40 percent of the residential and commercial building stock in the United States would:

    1. Create 625,000 sustained full-time jobs over a decade.
    2. Spark $500 billion in new investments to upgrade 50 million homes and office buildings.
    3. Generate as much as $64 billion a year in cost savings for U.S. ratepayers, freeing consumers to spend their money in more productive ways.

  • Cisco this morning announced its intent to acquire privately-held Arch Rock, which specializes in IP-based wireless sensor network technology with a focus on energy and environmental monitoring and Smart Grid applications.

    Financial terms of the transaction are not being disclosed.

  • ONE of the curiosities of carbon markets is that they do not just trade in carbon. Other greenhouse gases can be given a value, too?sometimes a very high one. Claims that these prices promote scammery are now prompting some searching questions.

    The gas at the centre of the controversy is HFC-23, a greenhouse gas which, on a weight-for-weight basis, is 14,800 times better at trapping heat than carbon dioxide. HFC-23 is produced as a by-product of the manufacture of HCFC-22, an ozone-destroying refrigerant. HCFC-22 is banned in developed countries, but developing countries can keep making it until 2030.

    The acronyms do not end there. Under the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) of the United Nations HCFC-22 producers in developing countries that destroy, rather than release, their HFC-23 can be eligible for Certified Emission Reduction (CER) credits, which can then be traded in the European Union?s emissions-trading scheme. This allows companies to buy extra emissions reductions to meet their cap-and-trade obligations, and in so doing to transfer money to schemes reducing emissions in developing countries.

  • A page showing and explaining in-depth the real-time energy use (electricity & gas) of UK govt buildings at 3-8 Whitehall place

  • Iberdrola Renovables, in consortium with Neoenergia, has been awarded the contract for nine new wind farms in Brazil, with total installed capacity of 258 MW. It is the second contract to develop renewable energy that the company has won in Brazil.

    The contract award took place in Rio de Janeiro, during the second tender process for renewable energies in the country, organised by the Agencia Nacional de Energ?a El?ctrica (Aneel).

    Iberdrola Renovables has committed to supply the electricity generated at these facilities to the Brazilian government for a 20-year period, starting in January 2013. The annual amount of the contract awarded yesterday by Aneel is about ?60 million (130 million reales).

  • PG&E is handing over tens of thousands of dollars to the nonprofit Sempervirens Fund to protect a 425-acre stand of redwoods once slated for logging deep in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

    The deal, expected to be completed next month, is part of the utility’s efforts to combat greenhouse gas emissions, in this case safeguarding trees for carbon absorption, and is helping to drive a new marketplace where people and business are offered an incentive to offset pollution.

    “We’re finding a new financial model here for doing things to capture greenhouse gases that wouldn’t have been done otherwise,” said Robert Parkhurst, climate protection and analysis manager for PG&E.

    “It’s a new paradigm for protecting the environment.”

  • More companies trading in carbon offsets and those financing emissions reduction projects are setting up shop in?Singapore.

    More than 30 such carbon-related firms have done so in the last three years or?so.

    The trade in carbon credits, worth US$153 billion (S$208 billion) globally last year, is driven by various requirements to cut back on greenhouse gas emissions. These include cap-and-trade regulations in Europe and countries scrambling to fulfil carbon emissions obligations under the United Nations? Kyoto Protocol.

  • And you thought John Deere was all about tractors. This morning utility Exelon said it will buy up the wind power division of John Deere, called John Deere Renewables, for $860 million, plus an additional $40 million once all of the projects are completed. John Deere Renewables has 965 MW of clean power projects under development in various stages.

  • The immensely popular LCDs screens that are found everywhere in the modern home (television, computer, laptop, cellphones, etc) use less energy than CRTs, the previous technology, but they are still far from being optimally efficient. Only about 8% of the light emitted by a LCD’s backlight makes its way out, and the rest is wasted. But that might be about to change thanks to a new filter that could boost that efficiency by more than 400% and allow around 36% of the light to pass through.

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Friday Green Numbers round-up 07/16/2010

Green Numbers

Photo credit XcBiker

And here are this week’s Green Numbers:

    Smart Grids

  • GE wants to spark a revolution in the way we create and distribute electricity, and seizing on a critical underfunding of grid investments by the U.S. government (a paltry $3.4 billion) the 2nd largest company in the world (as ranked by Forbes) wants to do something about it.

    GE is partnering with four major venture capital firms, including Al Gore-advised Kleiner Perkins, to issue the $200 million challenge to “…businesses, entrepreneurs, innovators, and students to share their best ideas and come together to take on one of the world?s toughest challenges ? building the next-generation power grid to meet the needs of the 21st century.”

    tags: ge greennumbers electricity $200 million challenge smart grid

  • The smart grid has been a lumbering but steady and inevitable presence in the utility industry, with a speedy uptake in the number of start-ups interested in creating everything from energy storage technology to user dashboards for home energy consumption and a somewhat slower uptake in the number of smart grid pilot projects popping up nationwide. Less than two years ago it was expected to grow to at least $65 billion by 2013. Cisco has identified at least $20 billion in potential business opportunities around the grid, which the company says will be bigger than the Internet, and $3.4 billion of stimulus money was to be dished out to 100 projects. So why the projection from Pike Research that the spending will top off at $35 billion by 2013?

    tags: greennumbers smart grid investments spending

  • Trilliant Incorporated, a leader in delivering Smart Grid solutions that enhance energy efficiency, utility operations, and renewable resource integration, today announced that it has closed financing totaling $106 million from a global syndicate of industry and financial leaders.

    The financing round was led by two highly-respected financial investors, Investor Growth Capital (the wholly-owned venture arm of Investor AB of Sweden) and VantagePoint Venture Partners and two leading global grid-related equipment companies, ABB and GE. The financing, which was coordinated by Deutsche Bank, also includes a significant credit facility from a major venture credit provider as well as continuing financial support from existing investors MissionPoint Capital Partners and zouk ventures. The new investment will be used to finance Trilliant?s continued growth in North America and globally.

    tags: trilliant smart grid financing round investment greennumbers

  • Policy and Regulation:

  • An excellent article by the UK climate change secretary, German federal environment minister and French environment minister:
    Europe’s current focus on recovery from recession must not distract us from the question of what kind of economy we want to build. Unless we set our countries on a path to a sustainable low-carbon future, we will face continued uncertainty and significant costs from energy price volatility and a destabilising climate.\nThis is why we today set out our belief that the European Union should raise its emissions target. A reduction of 30 per cent from 1990 levels by 2020 would represent a real incentive for innovation and action in the international context. It would be a genuine attempt to restrict the rise in global temperatures to 2?C – the key climate danger threshold – stiffening the resolve of those already proposing ambitious action and encouraging those waiting in the wings. It would also make good business sense….

    tags: europe eu low carbon emissions 30% 20% carbon greennumbers

  • “The new Coalition Government has pledged to be the ?greenest government ever? and has committed to reduce carbon emissions across the central Government estate by 10% within 12 months. Launched at the end of May, our Central Government Carbon Management Service is already working with twenty one Central Government bodies to help them meet this challenge.”

    tags: uk govt greennumbers central Government estate Central Government Carbon Management Service

  • The state-owned electric transmission company in China, State Grid, has moved forward with establishing a set of industry rules, standards and favored technologies for the growing smart grid industry in China. But the aggressive move to establish industry standards has competitors in the nascent smart grid sector a bit concerned.

    tags: china smart grid state grid greennumbers

  • Sustainability

  • Seven ‘Triads of Sustainability’ – where seven issues (participation, decision-making, partnership, governance, knowledge and information, continual improvement, and lifestyles) leading to sustainability are explained in detail with case studies . These triads are key ingredients that define and drive sustainability, particularly at the local level.

    tags: sustainability triads Seven Triads of Sustainability greennumbers

  • Eurosif partnered with EIRIS for the Remuneration theme report.

    Research highlights and recommendations for shareholders and regulators include:

    ?- 29% of FTSE Eurofirst300 listed companies have some commitment to linking remuneration to ESG performance ? although concerns exists around the extent to which performance targets are set as ?soft targets? thereby guaranteeing a minimum level of bonus
    ?- Financial institutions account for 23% of the FTSE Eurofirst300 index but only 16% of financial institutions have an ESG-linked remuneration system
    ?- Shareholders should engage with companies by voting against unacceptable remuneration packages and calling for and taking part in shareholder dialogue in determining remuneration policy,
    ?- Regulators should promote active dialogue between companies and shareholders by legislating for a binding ?say on pay? vote and setting appropriate guidelines to promote good remuneration practices and disclosure.

    The report examines critical challenges and opportunities for companies in relation to remuneration, incentives and long-term sustainability.

    tags: remuneration remuneration report eurofirst300 greennumbers

  • Companies could be asked to publish details of their environmental and social impacts alongside their financial accounts under new rules being discussed with the organisations that set accounting standards.

    News of the initiative ? which would mean that businesses have to account for the impacts they have on local water quality, plants and animals ? emerged as a major report for the UN is published today. It warns that companies are causing vast damage to the “living fabric of this planet”, raising threats to society and their own profits, but also that the business opportunities to make money from improving the environment are forecast to quadruple over the next decade.

    tags: environmental impacts social impacts csr corporate reporting greennumbers accounting standards

  • AT&T today announced the deployment of the 2,000th alternative fuel vehicle and 1,500th compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicle in its corporate vehicle fleet, giving it one of the largest CNG vehicle fleets in the U.S. These milestones are part of a $565 million planned investment announced in March 2009 to replace more than 15,000 fleet vehicles with alternative fuel models through 2018. Currently, the AT&T corporate fleet includes more than 75,900 vehicles.

    AT&T anticipates purchasing approximately 8,000 CNG vehicles over a five-year span, at an anticipated cost of $350 million. AT&T expects to spend an additional $215 million through 2018 to replace 7,100 fleet passenger cars with alternative fuel models. According to the Center for Automotive Research (CAR), AT&T’s alternative fuel vehicle initiative will:

    – Save 49 million gallons of gasoline over the 10-year deployment period.
    – Reduce carbon emissions by 211,000 metric tons ? the greenhouse gas equivalent of removing 147,929 passenger vehicles from the road for one year.

    tags: at&t att cng compressed natural gas vehicle fleet greennumbers

  • Renewables

  • Earlier this week, Morocco?s King Mohammed VI officially inaugurated a wind farm in the town of Melloussa.?? With 165 turbines and a production capacity of 140 megawatts, the farm is touted as Africa?s largest wind farm. Besides significantly reducing CO2 emissions, the farm is expected to save over 125,000 metric tons of oil annually.

    tags: morocco wind farm greennumbers

  • Germany could derive all of its electricity from renewable energy sources by 2050 and become the world’s first major industrial nation to kick the fossil-fuel habit, the country’s Federal Environment Agency said today.

    The country already gets 16% of its electricity from wind, solar and other renewable sources ? three times’ higher than the level it had achieved 15 years ago.

    “A complete conversion to renewable energy by 2050 is possible from a technical and ecological point of view,” said Jochen Flasbarth, president of the Federal Environment Agency.

    “It’s a very realistic target based on technology that already exists ? it’s not a pie-in-the-sky prediction,” he said.

    tags: germany electricity renewable energy greennumbers fossil fuel

  • Is shutting down offshore drilling more risky than carrying on? What about jobs that real families depend on? Do we have to choose between dolphins and employment? What are the real issues in the Gulf? Here?s 10 Questions that were fielded by Andy Sharpless, the CEO of Oceana at a recent TedxOilSpill conference. We?ve let Andy speak in his own voice here unedited.

    tags: Andy Sharpless TedxOilSpill oilspill offshore drilling greennumbers

  • A lead congressional committee investigating the Gulf of Mexico oil spill has broadened its inquiry, now checking if tens of thousands of abandoned oil and gas wells are leaking or even being monitored for leaks.

    tags: salazar oilspill Gulf of Mexico oil wells gas wells abandoned oil wells greennumbers

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

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Tech company sustainability reports reviewed – Updated

Corporate Social Responsibility
Original photo by ATIS547

I was asked on Twitter recently where to find a list of links to tech companies’ CSR reports.

I didn’t know where to find one, so I built one and as well as just the links, I also added in a few extra observations I noted about the reports.

[table id=4 /]

As previously reported here, the 2009 SAP Sustainability Report is superb.

Another company in the list worthy of note is BT, whose report, despite the lack of interactivity, is the only other report to hit the GRI A+ rating.

HP’s site has gone heavy on design to the detriment of usability which is unfortunate because some of the content is really good.

After that, almost all of the companies who have a 2009 report published have done a really good job. The exception to this is Microsoft whose 2009 report, while an improvement on previous reports, still has a long way to go to approach a professional CSR Report standard.

Of the companies who have yet to publish their 2009 report, Oracle and Adobe’s 2008 reports are lacklustre attempts, at best. Neither report to GRI standards and both are long on pretty pictures and short on relevant data.

Having said that, at least Oracle and Adobe are producing Sustainability reports.

The three laggards in this list are Google, Amazon and Apple – none of whom are producing sustainability reports at the minute.

In their defence, Google has its Going Green at Google website and Apple has its Apple and the Environment site, both of whom go into considerable detail on each companies initiatives. In Apple’s case, it does go deep into a lot of the data you would normally see in a Sustainability report. Why it refuses to produce a formal report is beyond me.

In contrast, Amazon’s attempt at an Environmental site/page is an embarrassment. If this is the best they can do, honestly, they’d be better off doing nothing.

One issue I noted was that HP, Cisco and Apple [PDF] all report on sourcing 100% renewable power in Ireland. This is not possible for the reasons I outlined in this post.

What other companies should I add to this list? Please feel free to suggest any in the comments and I will update the list.

UPDATES:
Since publishing this, Nokia have brought out their excellent 2009 report and it is now included above.
Also, based on suggestions received on FaceBook I have added details about 3 other companies (NEC, Fujitsu and Indra Sistemas). It was also suggested there that I go over various telco companies CSR reports. I’ll leave that to a separate post.

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Friday Morning Green Numbers round-up 03/12/2010

Green numbers

Photo credit Unhindered by Talent

Here is this Friday’s Green Numbers round-up:

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

The importance of open standards for broad smart grid adoption

Standards

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.

June 29th GreenMonk Energy and Sustainability show

Here is the chatstream from yesterday’s Energy & Sustainability show (above) – there were a couple of technical hitches which I have now sorted out and which shouldn’t present problems next week:

03:31 Tom Raftery: Do we have audio & video
03:32 cgarvey: yup, both working
03:34 SukiFuller: I’m gonna be listening but not able to type
03:35 Tom Raftery: http://www.upi.com/Energy_Resources/2009/06/15/Global-warming-causing-mass-migration/UPI-51151245080561
03:37 Tom Raftery: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=the-peril-below-the-ice
03:39 Tom Raftery: http://www.reuters.com/article/worldNews/idUSTRE55M0XT20090623
03:40 Tom Raftery: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=car-exhaust-premature-birth
03:43 MikeTheBee: In more ways than one!
03:44 Tom Raftery: http://www.energyefficiencynews.com/policy/i/2193/
03:45 Doc_Manhattan: Hello Tom great show so far
03:46 Tom Raftery: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/29/business/energy-environment/29biofuel.html?_r=2
03:47 Tom Raftery: http://www.algasolrenewables.com/en/home
03:49 Doc_Manhattan: too cool on the algae
03:49 Tom Raftery: http://www.technologyreview.com/blog/energy/23753/
03:49 cgarvey: More good news .. http://url.ie/1xmu .. all the big mobile phone companies have signed up for a common charger standard to start to appear from 2010.
03:51 Tom Raftery: http://www.ecofriend.org/entry/eco-cars-us-based-oil-company-debuts-100-electric-car-ev-sharing-program
03:52 Tom Raftery: http://www.autobloggreen.com/2009/06/27/mulally-fords-path-to-profitability-based-on-electrification
03:53 cgarvey: There is an issue with Firefox and comments (I’ll email you separately)
03:54 Tom Raftery: http://www.reuters.com/article/rbssConsumerGoodsAndRetailNews/idUST9767820090623
03:54 MikeTheBee: Comments okay on Mac but not for me *again” on FF win
03:55 Tom Raftery: http://www.pcworld.com/article/167503/cisco_promotes_telecommuting.html
03:56 Doc_Manhattan: our group works together as a worldwide team on www.reactiongrid.com using a VW to meet so we’re participating!
03:56 MikeTheBee: @cgarvey Me too pls, I thought I had it sussed with cookies previously
03:57 Tom Raftery: http://www.reuters.com/article/technologyNews/idUSTRE55S1XZ20090629
03:58 MikeTheBee: Ah good, mini USB is at least a standard of sorts
03:58 Tom Raftery: http://www.reuters.com/article/environmentNews/idUSTRE55N3ZV20090624
03:59 MikeTheBee: Scotland have no money of their own
04:01 cgarvey: mailing you now on both
04:01 MikeTheBee: @cgarvey Thx
04:01 SukiFuller: I have no technical issues. :-) Some great links today, awesome show Tom!
04:02 cgarvey: Thanks again Tom
04:02 MikeTheBee: Ell done again . cheers all.
04:02 Tom Raftery: Thanks everyone for a great show – apols for tech issues
04:14 cgarvey: Just a small correction: the new mobile charger standard is Micro USB, not Mini USB. Pic comparing them: http://url.ie/1xn9 .. WikiPedia article: http://url.ie/1xna Info