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GreenMonk interviews Stefan Engelhardt about SAP’s vision for Smart Grids

One of the more interesting keynote talks at the recent SAP for Utilities conference in San Antonio TX was the one given by Stefan Engelhardt, SAP’s Head of Industry Business Unit Utilities.

In his keynote he discussed decarbonisation and SAP’s vision around Smart Grids and Smart Meters. I asked him if he’d be willing to come on camera to talk about some of these topics and he very graciously agreed.

With the vast majority of the world’s utilities using SAP’s software, they have their fingers firmly on the pulse of this sector. What was pleasantly surprising to me was the amount of interest SAP is seeing from their utility client companies in Smart Grids. As Stefan himself said in the interview:

For the next couple of years we see a clear trend towards the deployment of Smart Metering technology in the Utilities industry… and that means we have to adapt the existing business processes to this new technology

It was also fascinating to hear Stefan’s predictions around how Smart Grids will be rolled out gradually by utilities. Polling of smart meters by utilities will be ramped up bit-by-bit from maybe once a day to once every 10-15 minutes and this will have huge implications for the amount of data utilities will have to manage. Previously they may have collected 1 terabyte every 10 years. With smart meters reporting energy usage every 10-15 minutes they could be collecting 1 terabyte every month, or less!

With the roll-out of Smart Grids, utility companies will be able to publish energy prices in realtime based on supply and demand. This is important because electricity is more plentiful when renewables are contributing to the mix, so cheaper electricity should also track closely with Greener electricity!.

Utilities will now be able to offer new products like critical peak pricing for peak shaving in times of electricity shortage and even demand stimulation, to encourage people to consume electricity when supply is exceeding demand. This will encourage people to shift some of their loads to times when renewables are contributing more, thereby reducing the CO2 emissions associated with that load.

[Disclosure – SAP covered my expenses to attend this conference]

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Monitors on the TransEurasia Express!

Fujitsu Siemens Computers announced recently that it was shipping 10,000 monitors and bare bones system chassis from China to Germany by train!

I thought this was simply a pr stunt to get some headlines until I read that transporting the goods by train is one-third faster than ocean freight, costs only one-quarter as much as air freight and yet produces less than 5% of the CO2 emissions of air freight!

Intrigued I invited Fujitsu Siemens senior director of global logistics, Hans Erbe to come on GreenMonk TV to discuss the shipment and to give us some hard numbers around money and CO2 saved!

You can foillow the progress of the shipment on the train’s blog at http://www.transeurasiablog.com/

I should also apologise for the quality of the audio in the podcast. We were connected via Skype and despite connecting several times, this was the best audio we could get 🙁

The television image in the video is from videocrab

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ICT could deliver approximately 7.8 GtCO2e of emissions savings in 2020

Measuring time
Photo Credit aussiegall

James has, in previous posts referred to the fact that IT is responsible for 2% of the world’s CO2 emissions but that it can have a disproportionate influence on the other 98%. This is something we believe fundamentally in GreenMonk so it is great to see others vindicating our position.

The Climate Group and the Global e-Sustainability Initiative (GeSI) recently published a report, independently audited by McKinsey and Company called Smart 2020. The report is a fascinating read and comes to the conclusion that ICT could:

deliver approximately 7.8 GtCO2e of emissions savings in 2020. This represents 15% of emissions in 2020 based on a BAU [Business As Usual] estimation. It represents a significant proportion of the reductions below 1990 levels that scientists and economists recommend by 2020 to avoid dangerous climate change. In economic terms, the ICT-enabled energy efficiency translates into approximately €600 billion ($946.5 billion) of cost savings. It is an opportunity that cannot be overlooked.

Apart from emissions associated with deforestation, the largest contributors to climate change are transportation and power generation, so how could IT help these functions?

According to the report the use of

  1. Smart motor systems – optimised motors and industrial automation would reduce 0.97 GtCO2e [0.97 giga tons CO2 emissions] in 2020, worth €68 billion ($107.2 billion)
  2. Smart logistics – global savings from smart logistics in 2020 would reach 1.52 GtCO2e, with energy savings worth €280 billion ($441.7 billion)
  3. Smart buildings – smart buildings technologies would enable 1.68 GtCO2e of emissions savings, worth €216 billion ($340.8 billion) and
  4. Smart grids – smart grid technologies were the largest opportunity found in the study and could globally reduce 2.03 GtCO2e , worth €79 billion ($124.6 billion)

Even though we have been heavily promoting the use of smart grids and demand response on this blog I was impressed that they could reduce CO2 emissions by 2 giga tons by 2020. This is one of the reasons why I was super-excited today when SAP’s Mike Prosceno invited me to attend their SAP for Utilities conference which is going to be in San Antonio Texas in October. This is a conference about the future of utilities and there will be a big focus on smart grids, smart meters and AMI (Advanced Metering Infrastructure).

How will IT help reduce emissions? It comes back to that old chestnut – if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.

Or as Steve Howard, CEO, The Climate Group said in his opening address in the report:

When we started the analysis, we expected to find that ICT could make our lives ‘greener’ by making them more virtual – online shopping, teleworking and remote communication all altering our behaviour. Although this is one important aspect of the ICT solution, the first and most significant role for ICT is enabling efficiency.

Consumers and businesses can’t manage what they can’t measure. ICT provides the solutions that enable us to ‘see’ our energy and emissions in real time and could provide the means for optimising systems and processes to make them more efficient. Efficiency may not sound as inspirational as a space race but, in the short term, achieving efficiency savings equal to 15% of global emissions is a radical proposition.

Via Doug Neal (aka gblnetwkr)

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Nortel Energy Efficiency Calculator now online

Nortel Energy Efficiency Calculator

Nortel announced the release their Energy Efficiency Calculator online last week.

The tool is available for anyone to use after a quick registration (name, email and country) and uses best guestimates to give figures for energy spend.

The data are highly customisable, you can vary country, energy costs, company setup (network, no. of employees, etc.). It outputs costs to run the network infrastructure, kWh consumed, MBTUs generated and CO2 emissions.

This is an extension of the “Cisco Energy Tax” campaign which Nortel have been running very successfully now for some time.

It would be nice to see easy totals calculated for the outputs (possibly they are there but I didn’t see them) and it would be far nicer if it were not coded in Flash!

Having said that, this is a neat tool and reinforces the connection for companies between saving costs and lowering CO2 emissions.

Now Cisco, where is your rebuttal? 😉

See the video below for more:

[Disclosure: Nortel are a GreenMonk client]

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IEA report paints challenging picture

Nuclear power
Photo Credit mobileart

I read the International Energy Agency’s latest Energy Technology Perspectives 2008 report and it is sobering stuff.

It starts off by outlining what will happen in a business as usual scenario:

Our current path is not sustainable
If governments around the world continue with policies in place to date – the underlying premise in the ETP Baseline scenario to 2050 – CO2 emissions will rise by 130% and oil demand will rise by 70%. This expansion in oil equals five times today’s production of Saudi Arabia.

What is worse, according to the report, despite recognition of the problem, CO2 emissions have grown considerably in recent years.

Higher oil and gas prices result in a rapid switch to coal. Moreover rapid growth in China and India, both coal-based economies, has also contributed to this deteriorating outlook.

Getting CO2 emissions even back to 2005 levels by 2050 will pose massive challenges –

No single form of energy or technology can provide the full solution. Improving energy efficiency is the first step and is very attractive as it results in immediate cost savings. Significantly reducing emissions from power generation is also a key component of emissions stabilisation. But even this is not enough.

However, getting us to 50% of the 2005 emissions by 2050 means that

Total additional investment needs in technology and deployment between now and 2050 would amount to USD 45 trillion, or 1.1% of average annual global GDP over the period”, Mr. Tanaka stressed.
We would need a virtual decarbonisation of the power sector. Given the growing demand for electricity, this would mean that on average per year 35 coal and 20 gas-fired power plants would have to be fitted with CO2 capture and storage (CCS) technology, between 2010 and 2050 at a cost of USD 1.5 billion each. Furthermore, we would have to build an additional 32 new nuclear plants each year and wind capacity would have to increase by approximately 17.500 turbines each year.

32 new nuclear plants every year between 2010 and 2050? Wow! I wonder if the authors have read the Rocky Mountain Institute report on nuclear energy which says

Construction costs worldwide have risen far faster for nuclear than non-nuclear plants, due not just to sharply higher steel, copper, nickel, and cement prices but also to an atrophied global infrastructure for making, building, managing, and operating reactors. The industry’s flagship Finnish project, led by France’s top builder, after 28 months’ construction had gone at least 24 months behind schedule and $2 billion over budget.

Unless something drastic happens in the next few years we will be lucky if our CO2 emissions in 2050 are not higher than they were in 2005. And that has dire implications for the health of the planet.

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San Francisco rolls out carbon tax

I see the LA Times is reporting that the San Francisco Bay Area Air Quality Management District‘s board of directors voted overwhelmingly (15-1) in favour of levying a carbon tax on businesses.

The tax will be 4.4 cents per tonne of CO2 emitted which, in reality is paltry:

More than 2,500 businesses will be required to pay the proposed fees. About seven power plants and oil refineries would have to pay more than $50,000 a year, but the majority of businesses would pay less than $1, according to district estimates.

But this rate will increase with time and this news is massively significant in other ways.

This is the first instance of a carbon tax in the US, according to the piece in the LA Times, although the New York Times reports that Boulder Colorado was first when it imposed a carbon tax in Nov 2006 on both businesses and homes.

Either way, this is an indication of things to come. The best way to reduce carbon emissions is to charge for them (and the damage they wreak).

More and more we will see the implementation of carbon taxes and this more than anything else will force us to reduce our CO2 output.

We in GreenMonk are firm believers that we need to get off the carbon economy as soon as possible and so we strongly welcome this new carbon tax.

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Reduce your carbon footprint using virtual worlds

One of Credit Agricole\'s training rooms in Second Life (photo courtesy of Stonefield Inworld)

Virtual Worlds such as Second Life are largely dismissed as trivial and a waste of time by many people (myself included until recently!).

However a recent conversation with Pierre-Olivier Carles changed all that for me. Pierre is the co-founder and CEO of Stonefield Inworld – a company which builds things for people in virtual worlds.

For example, the photo above is a training room for the French banking group Crédit Agricole. According to their Wikipedia entry, Crédit Agricole are the 8th largest bank in the world! Stonefield have purpose built training rooms for Crédit Agricole on the bank’s private island in Second Life.

In a pilot program rolled out for a small part of the group, Crédit Agricole expect to save between €200,000 and €300,000 this year on travel expenses alone by holding training sessions in-world. If this is rolled out to the group, annual savings would be in the order of €5-€6m. I’m not sure what that is in terms of reduced CO2 emissions but you can take it that it is a pretty big number!

And that is just in travel expenses. When companies start to be taxed for their carbon emissions, the savings from holding in-world training will be even greater.

Of course, the success of something like this is all in the execution and from talking to Pierre-Olivier, Stonefield seem to have nailed it. They have audio (for the presenter), video, slideware, and whiteboards in the training room. They take ‘coffee’ breaks to allow for the networking which happens in ‘real’ training as well as the opportunities for one-on-one with the trainer (“what you said in there is all very well in theory but in the case of our org…”).

The trainees can even give feedback on their understanding of the topic by migrating to the green side of the room to indicate all is going well or moving to the red side to signal that they are falling behind. As someone who gives talks and has done training, this kind of trainee feedback is invaluable to the successful running of a class.

Then there is the added benefits to the trainee of not having to worry about getting through security, catching that plane, lost luggage, traffic jams, breakdowns or worse. Does anyone have any statistics on the number of employees lost to work-related travel accidents annually?

With travel making up such a large part of our global CO2 emissions and companies increasing requirements to upskill their employees on an ongoing basis, initiatives like this are going to be vital for cost efficiencies and reduced carbon footprints.

Cross-posted from LowerFootprint.com