post

Internet of things, wind turbines and ThingMonk the conference.

Back in 2009 I remember attending Logica’s analyst day in Lisbon and being very impressed with their Renewables Management System (RMS) – a windfarm management desktop application which was at the time managing a live feed of 300-400 data points from 2,000 wind turbines all over the Iberian peninsula.

Logica has since gone through a merger/acquisition process and is now known as CGI. I’m not sure what the status of their RMS solution is now, but I was reminded of it when I attended SAP TechEd in Las Vegas recently.

At the event SAP’s Benjamin Wesson gave me a demonstration of an internet of things (IoT) solution SAP have developed. The demo app, as can be seen in the video above, showcases how a windfarm manager can manage remote (even offshore) windturbines, see the status of any errors, create/manage trouble tickets, see schematics, and deploy resources based on proximity and availability. All from a tablet.

As we head into an era where more and more devices are being connected to the Internet, creating this Internet of Things, we enter a time when we can interact with and control everything from large offshore windfarms, to light switches in our home, from our device of choice (computer, tablet, smartphone).

The implications of this are still far from clear, but it is plain to see that apart from the legitimate security and privacy concerns, the ability to measure and take charge of equipment at all times from wherever has massive potential ramifications for efficiency. Everything from “Did I leave the light on?”, to, “Do I need to alter the angle of that blade on that 6MW wind turbine in the North Atlantic?” can now be asked and answered from the screen of your device of choice.

If you want to learn more about the Internet of Things, I recommend you head along to our ThingMonk conference in London on Dec 3rd next. Benjamin Wesson will be speaking there, as will some other awesome speakers, and there’ll be great demo’s as well.

And if you can’t make it along, we plan to video as many of the talks as possible for subsequent publication.

post

Logica’s Global Utilities Director, Nigel Spooner talks Smart Meters, Smart Grids and the DCC

At the recent Logica Utility Analyst day, I talked to Logica’s Global Utilities Director, Nigel Spooner about Smart Meters, Smart Grids and the DCC – here’s a transcription of our conversation:

Tom Raftery: Hi everyone, welcome to GreenMonk TV, I’m in the Logica building in London with Nigel Spooner. Nigel is Global Utility Director for Logica. Nigel we’ve had a bit of a discussion here during the analyst event that I have just been attending, around smart meters and smart grids. Now we’re in the middle of one of the world’s worst economic crises in a long time, why would utilities want to be spending money on rolling out smart meters?

Nigel Spooner: Yeah it’s a good question isn’t it, it is difficult when money is tight, but there are benefits to smart metering, both in terms of the consumer being able to manage their energy consumption more closely, and also in terms of the distribution companies being able to run their networks more efficiently, but also and importantly being been able to cater for consumers doing their own generation for instance with photovoltaics and also for things like incorporating electric vehicles into the network.

Tom Raftery: So this is kind of life smart grid stuff and can you give us a quick idea, I mean you talked just a little bit about it sidewise, give me kind of an overall picture of what a smart grid is?

Nigel Spooner: A smart grid is difficult to define very succinctly, but it is a distribution grid where there is much more control over the way that power flows both on to and off the grid. At the moment grids are very much one way. The power goes in from the power station, it goes through the network and into the consumer.

Increasingly we’re having to cope for the fact that the consumers themselves are generating power, they are also using things like electric vehicles which have to be charged up at particular times, they need to be controlled if the networks are not to be overloaded, and therefore the distribution grids have to be much more responsive to those loads and those demands going on them. Smart metering gives the distribution companies the opportunity to know what’s going on on that grid to a much closer degree, and in real time than they having been doing so far.

Tom Raftery: And advantages to consumers…

Nigel Spooner: To consumers the advantage is that they can get first of all more flexible tariffs, so we may be able to get tariffs that are much more aligned with the way in which we actually consume energy, rather than being just a blanket tariff that’s the same for everyone. There will be much more information on the energy that one is using, so that for instance one can see when one is going for a rather large load and to turn things off if you need to, but also there is the ability increasingly to respond to variable pricing, so that if we know for instance electricity is going to be expensive in three days time because of demands on the system, then we can react to that and make sure that our large items like air-conditioning units that’s on, do not get turned on when the price is very high. So we should be able to save both energy and money through the information that smart metering gives.

Tom Raftery: And, I’ve heard a bit about this DCC thing that’s been rolled out here in the UK, can you tell me a little bit about that?

Nigel Spooner: Well DCC is simply the organization that is going to be setup or is been setup by the British government to basically take charge of all the data that is coming off smart meters as we roll them out. This will be collected centrally and then distributed to the market participants and the view is that, that will be the most efficient way to manage this huge increase in information that smart meters are providing. By doing that it should make it easier for participants to come into the market and it should make it easier for consumers to get the best deal on their energy.

Tom Raftery: Where is Logica in all this?

Nigel Spooner: Well I’m delighted to say that all the things we’ve been talking about require relatively sophisticated information technology services to enable them to happen. Logica has for many years been in the business of providing the systems and the services that are required to make those infrastructures operate effectively and we will of course continue to do so.

Tom Raftery: Okay, great. Nigel that’s been fantastic, thanks for talking to us today.

Nigel Spooner: Thank You Tom.

Full disclosure – Logica paid my travel and accommodation to attend this event.

post

Logica’s Sustainability Analyst briefing

Logica's Annual Report cover

Logica held a Sustainability Analysts day in London recently and they invited me to attend.

Pictured above is the cover of Logica’s 2011 Annual Report [PDF] – their Annual Report mind, not their Sustainability Report [PDF]. And yet the title of Logica’s Annual Report is Shaping a Sustainable Future. This is a good indicator of Logica’s proactive stance on Sustainability.

The half-day briefing was a mix of Logica staff talking about the company’s Sustainability products and services, as well as a couple of customers (Carbon Disclosure Project and National Centre for Earth Observation) discussing the value they get from their relationship with Logica. While it was nice having a couple of customers presenting at the event, the fact that neither of these customers are commercial enterprises, per se, could lead one to wonder whether Sustainability is lower on the agenda of traditional enterprise.

Having said that, Logica’s Tony Rooke had a slide with a long list of commercial customers for Logica’s sustainability services. Interestingly these were typically infrastructure companies like utilities, Airwave and Network Rail.

The Logica led sessions were around what Logica is calling Smart Utilities, Sustainable Mobility and also Logica’s Engagement Carbon Calculator.

In the Smart Utilities space, Logica’s Rich Hampshire talked about Logica’s three-pronged strategy (security of supply, affordability, and decarbonising energy). Logica have a Smart as a Service offering here for utilities, and Logica have traditionally been very strong in this sector.

In the burgeoning Sustainable Mobility field, Logica’s Theo Quick talked about a 10,000 point electric car charging network that Logica are rolling out in the Netherlands with eLaad.nl. This was rolled out using the Open Charge Point protocol to allow interoperability between charge points. Logica’s EMO is a vehicle emission monitoring product which, according to Logica, saved a postal company 10% of its fuel in the first three months of use. Theo also mentioned a research project called EPTIMS being rolled out in Manchester – this is a Smartphone app to encourage use of public transport by telling people when they have reached their stop, and one called eCoMove which is an FP7 funded project to reduce the number of trucks traveling around empty (transporting air).

And, Logica’s Stuart Williams mentioned their Engagement Carbon Calculator. This is a Logica offering which is in late beta mode right now. What it does is for any project that Logica carries out, it takes the client’s emissions in a business as usual case, subtracts the actual emissions, as well as the emissions of Logica’s project involvement, to give a savings result for the project.

It was heartening at this event to see Logica’s commitment sustainability, in a time when for most companies sustainability is a fancy word for cutting energy bills.

In the days following this event, Logica announced it had agreed to be purchased by Canadian company CGI. Hopefully with the change of ownership, there won’t come any diminution in Logica’s sustainability focus.

Disclosure – Logica paid for my travel and accommodation to attend this event.

Photo Credit Tom Raftery

post

Logica and EdP’s smart grid trial in Évora

Energy management devices

Logica brought me to the pretty Portuguese town of Évora recently to check out the InovGrid project which they have been participating in, along with EdP and other partner companies.

InovGrid is an ambitious project to roll out smart grid technologies to six million customers across Portugal. Évora’s InovCity is the first stage of the project. There are 35,000 people living in Évora, almost all of whom have been issued with smart meters by now.

The smart meters are connected in realtime to in-home displays (like the one pictured above) which takes energy consumption readings every two seconds and plots it on the screen. It can display the usage data as kWh, CO2 or more tangibly, the € cost. If the home or business has an internet connection, this information can be viewed remotely on a computer or mobile device (as seen on the laptop on the right in the image above). Interestingly, there is two-way communication going on here, so if smart plugs are installed in the house, they can be controlled (on/off) from the in-home display, or remotely.

The information displayed on the in-home displays, and remotely, is not the same information which is sent to the utility for billing purposes. This may lead to some discrepancies in the € amount on the displays versus the amount on the bill at the end of the month. The smart meters send billing information to the utilities over Power Line Communications (with a GPRS backup). Even with the PLC connection, there is far too much data in 2 second reads, so a lower rate of reads is sent to the utility for billing purposes.

Interestingly, the in-home device shown above was installed in a coffee shop in Évora and it was possible to watch the fluctuations in the consumption graph in realtime as coffee was being made for customers. Also, the coffee shop realised €500 savings per annum in their energy bill when they examined the information from the device and realised they were not on the optimal tariff. It also demonstrated to them the savings to be had from turning off the coffee machine overnight, so the extra information from the device helped influence their behaviour.

EV Parking spot

EV Parking spot

Other than the smart meters, we were shown the information display in the town hall, which shows the realtime energy consumption of the building. This information is also supposed to be available on the town hall’s website for citizens to see remotely, though I failed to find it there (doubtless due to my lack of Portuguese!).

Other nice features on display were dedicated parking places for electric vehicles (EV’s), complete with charging stations as well as LED streetlights with motion sensors which dim the lights in the absence of people on the streets. The EV parking place was predictably empty due more to the general unavailability of EV’s than anything else. The LED streetlights though was interesting. Very few towns or cities have, as yet, embraced LED streetlights and yet 50% of a town’s energy spend can be on streetlights. LED lights can save 80-90% of the energy cost over traditional streetlights, they can report back their status (obviating the need to have staff checking for lighting failures) and they have a much longer lifetime, so they save on maintenance costs as well as energy.

It would be interesting to hear back from the InovCity people how much Évora is saving on lighting costs from the move to LED (even if only the energy savings) but even more interesting would be to try to see if the rollout of the smart meters and in-home displays has led to any sustained, per home, energy consumption reduction.

One last comment on this project – I can’t help but feel that the provision of in-home displays is an idea whose time has past. These days most people have access to a tablet, a smartphone or a computer where they can access this information. I suspect as the InovGrid project rolls out beyond the 35,000 inhabitants of Évora to rest of Portugal, the IHD’s will become at best, an added extra option, or quietly killed off.

Photo credits Tom Raftery

post

Logica and SAP in exclusive joint bid for UK Smart Meter data provisioning

Smart meter

The UK has an interesting Smart Meter infrastructure model. Data from all the country’s Smart Meters will flow to a centralised data repository (called the DCC), from where, energy retailers will pull the data for billing purposes. The beauty of this system is that consumers dictate who has access to their data, and so switching energy providers, is not held up by data ownership issues.

The build-out of this system is still at very early stages with RFP’s expected towards the end of the year but SAP and Logica have come out of the blocks early with an announcement that they are going to put in a joint bid to become the data service provider for the DCC.

Logica and SAP are both heavily involved in the utilities sector in the UK, so it makes sense for them to bid for this – the interesting aspect is that they agreed to bid together and that their joint bid is exclusive.

The six main suppliers in the UK are all either involved in trials, or in the process of starting to trial smart meters. All six are using Logica’s head-end system for their trials, so if Logica and SAP win the bid, the transition to the DCC system should be relatively painless.

Talking to Tara McGeehan, Logica’s Head of Utilities UK on Monday, she said that the idea behind the bid was to move the debate away from technology and comms, onto the power of the data to affect things like micro-generation, energy efficiency and smart grids.

Having seen Centrica’s Smart Meter Analytics application, which runs on SAP’s HANA, earlier this year, the proposition that there is gold in them thar data, certainly rings true.

Photo credit Tom Raftery

post

Green Bits and bytes!

Green bits

Photo credit lissalou66

A few announcements crossed my desk in the last week so I thought I’d wrap them up in a Bits and Bytes post:

  1. AlertMe, a company providing online energy management software, was named the winners of the “Software in Design” category at the Institution of Engineering and Technology Innovation awards recently. The prize was conferred on AlertMe for its “use of advanced software techniques within an engineering design process?. Entries were judged on innovation in the context of social, economic and personal impact as well as its novelty (new to humanity) and process.
  2. Logica just published their 2009 Sustainability Report. It is written using the GRI index and achieves an A rating. The report is a 16.8mb PDF download (which unfortunately failed to download for me which downloaded fine today and is a well presented, 70 page document outlining Logica’s CSR initiatives in 2009) – it would certainly benefit Logica to publish it online next time (if only to get feedback on how people read it).
  3. and

  4. Tropos Networks was selected by Burbank Water and Power to be a supplier for their Smart Grid rollout. Tropos? GridCom architecture will be used as the high performance wireless distribution area network, providing secure connectivity for multiple utility Smart Grid applications.

    Not familiar with Tropos? See my interview with their CEO, Tom Ayers here

post

Reflections on Logica’s analyst day

Logica Portugal

I attended a Logica Analyst briefing earlier this week in Logica’s recently opened International Utilities Competence Center (pictured above).

The days was chock full of talks from both Logica staff and also from João Torres, President & CEO EDP Distribuição – the Portuguese DSO, and a Logica customer.

Most of the talks were very interesting but two that stood out for me were the ones given by João Torres where he discussed EDP’s smart grid project, called InovGrid and the demo of RMS (Renewables Management System) by Jose Antunes and Rita Burnay. RMS is Logica’s software for managing remote windfarms.

In discussing InovGrid João explained that despite the costs of rolling out a smart grid, EDP felt that the benefits outweighed the costs. The main benefits João saw from smart grids were:

  • increase intelligence, supervision and control of the network
  • improve the efficiency and quality of the electricity supply
  • facilitate the maximising the amount of micro and distributed generation on the grid
  • enable smart metering and smart energy management

InovGrid is one of the most advanced smart grid projects in Europe. EDP now has 3,000 micro-generators on its grid and expects to have 200,000 smart meters installed by the end of 2010.

João was extremely open during his presentation. When asked which communication protocol was best for a smart grid, he said he felt PLC was best but he admitted that it had issues. EDP, he said, have a team assessing protocols and that a lot of the details are still to be decided.

Jose Antunes and Rita Burnay gave a demonstration of Logica’s windfarm management software RMS. The software is designed to manage large numbers of remote wind turbines and allows for quick and easy drill down on information. In the demo, we were shown RMS’s live feed from over 2,000 wind turbines all over the Iberian peninsula. The software collects and stores 300-400 data points from each turbine in realtime simultaneously.

As Jose said, wind turbines typically cost in the order of €1m per MW so one of the main functions of RMS is to minimise downtime of turbines. However, because it also stores all the historical data for turbines, it is able to plot performance of each turbine against the manufacturers SLA’s. I can see this being a popular screen!

Jose also told us that Logica are taking over the management of all of EDP’s wind turbines in Europe and the America’s. This will mean they will increase the current portfolio they are managing from 2GW to 10GW (though I don’t imagine all 10GW will be under one instance of RMS!

Logica’s Chris Beard gave a fascinating talk on a new Logica offering called Smart Office but I’ll come back to that in a separate post.

post

Logica on Sustainability


I attended an excellent Logica briefing in the UK recently and had the opportunity to have a quick chat with Tony Rooke, Head of Sustainability & Environment for Logica UK.

In our chat we discussed Logica’s internal Sustainability projects as well as ways in which Logica are addressing the greater Sustainability agenda.

According to Tony, in this piece, their Windfarm control system is controlling 2,000 turbines in 80 windfarms across the Iberian peninsula!

post

Today’s Energy & Sustainability show had a Water theme

Today’s GreenMonk Energy & Sustainability Shaw had 41 live viewers and plenty of interaction with the viewers.

The show is every Monday 4:30pm CET, 3:30pm GMT – if you haven’t participated in the live show, please do – you can help make it better and drive the direction!

Here is the chat stream from today’s show (including a quick chat at the end about an idea I have to move the show to a virtual word to increase the ability for people to interact):

04:32 TomRaftery : Can you hear me now?
04:32 mikeTheBee : reloading
04:33 mikeTheBee : still ‘Off Air’
04:33 TomRaftery : Anyone hear me?
04:33 watching-4232 : not me
04:33 Suki_Fuller : No
04:33 ustreamer-85861 : “Off air”
04:33 TomRaftery : Ok, I’ll log out & back in – two secs
04:33 mikeTheBee : I see that chat
04:33 watching-4232 : BTW, I got my iPhone app running, how can I join this stream?
04:34 mikeTheBee : Give it a go
04:34 TomRaftery : Logging back in
04:34 mikeTheBee : Now says found
04:34 TomRaftery : Apologies about this
04:34 mikeTheBee : On Air
04:34 mikeTheBee : no pic yet
04:34 mikeTheBee : Off Air
04:35 mikeTheBee : On Air ….. Off AIr
04:35 mikeTheBee : 11 in Chat
04:35 TomRaftery : Anyone hear me now
04:35 mikeTheBee : Voila
04:35 verowhite : Hi everyone
04:35 mikeTheBee : pic no sound
04:35 mikeTheBee : Sound
04:36 Suki_Fuller : I see you
04:36 Suki_Fuller : Sound
04:36 Suki_Fuller : Hey Tom
04:36 mikeTheBee : I have sound and vision
04:36 ustreamer-85861 : pic + sound here, just fine
04:36 verowhite : Hear you and see you Tom
04:36 mikeTheBee : 15 viewers
04:36 TomRaftery : http://www.unwater.org/worldwaterday/flashindex.html
04:38 monkchips : talking about water today huh?
04:38 Suki_Fuller : yeapper
04:39 verowhite : The sound is a little bit low, Tom
04:39 TomRaftery : video working?
04:39 verowhite : Image perfect, though
04:39 mikeTheBee : No sound or v.low volume
04:39 monkchips : video working great
04:39 monkchips : but i seem to be having sound problems too
04:39 verowhite : I think we’re hearing the output of your headphones
04:39 ustreamer-85861 : video working (sound is probably only coming via your headset mic?)
04:41 TomRaftery : http://www.physorg.com/news156506896.html
04:41 mikeTheBee : 14 viewers
04:41 Suki_Fuller : holy cow
04:41 Suki_Fuller : 2000x
04:41 verowhite : I heard about a campaign going on against bottledwater
04:42 verowhite : Didn’t know the numbers were that crazy, though
04:43 TomRaftery : http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/capt_charles_moore_on_the_seas_of_plastic.html
04:43 mikeTheBee : 16 viewers
04:44 TomRaftery : http://www-03.ibm.com/press/us/en/pressrelease/26922.wss
04:44 mikeTheBee : It forms an ‘Island’ I believe
04:47 cgarvey : same audio problem
04:47 monkchips : LOVING the way the show is evolving though.
04:47 cgarvey : (hearing your PC speakers via your mic, i think)
04:48 verowhite : yup, cgarvey, I would say he has to change the output from his mic to the osx playback
04:48 TomRaftery : http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2009/03/20/tech/main4880629.shtml?source=RSSattr=HOME_4880629
04:49 verowhite : Hey! I’m from Asturias 🙂
04:49 verowhite : Gijon is in Asturias!
04:50 verowhite : Didn’t expect Asturias to be any sci-fish (no pun intended) 😉
04:50 TomRaftery : http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1163125/Schools-robofish-sniff-pollution-Thames.html
04:51 verowhite : Is an amazing place, if you have the change to visiti, BTW
04:51 cgarvey : excellent pun
04:52 cgarvey : excellent video, surreal!
04:52 mikeTheBee : 17 Viewers
04:52 verowhite : omg
04:52 monkchips : my bloody windows machine isn’t playing flash audio for some reason
04:53 monkchips : 🙁
04:53 TomRaftery : http://www-03.ibm.com/press/us/en/pressrelease/26921.wss
04:54 verowhite : I used to live in Aviles, near Gijon. My city was REALLY polluted. I can see why they’re investigating there
04:54 Suki_Fuller : Oh my that robotic fish video is wicked cool
04:55 mikeTheBee : 16 Viewers
04:55 mikeTheBee : 18 viewers
04:59 mikeTheBee : 17 Viewers
04:59 TomRaftery : http://greenmonk.net/roll-your-own-green-job/
05:00 cgarvey : one quick Q
05:01 cgarvey : SmartBay data .. is it online somewhere, or just research still
05:01 cgarvey : ok, that’s good enough for me, cheers!
05:02 TomRaftery : [email protected]
05:02 cgarvey : cheers Tom .. love the format of this, by the way
05:02 mikeTheBee : Cheers Tom. cheers all.
05:02 verowhite : Nice show, Tom. Thanks
05:02 Suki_Fuller : Thank you – I love the format and I as always learned new things
05:02 TomRaftery : Thanks a million everyone for joining in
05:02 TomRaftery : and making it a great show
05:03 Suki_Fuller : Now going to make all my friends drink tap water
05:03 TomRaftery : Superb
05:03 TomRaftery : btw, thinking of running the show out of Second Life
05:03 TomRaftery : That would allow for more interactivity
05:03 mikeTheBee : SL or ReactionGrid?
05:03 TomRaftery : Could also pipe back into Ustream
05:04 TomRaftery : for those with no SL client
05:04 mikeTheBee : I’m not on SL but am on homcamp
05:04 TomRaftery : I’m agnostic about SL or ReactionGrid tbh Mike
05:04 mikeTheBee : I’m using Hippo
05:04 verowhite : I tried SL on my mac in the past
05:04 verowhite : not a big fan
05:04 TomRaftery : It depends on which is easier to pipe back to Ustream
05:05 mikeTheBee : homecamp.org.uk
05:05 verowhite : but if you are still streming it here, may work, who know 🙂
05:05 TomRaftery : Yup, I’m on the HoeCamp one as well
05:05 mikeTheBee : Intersted in the idea, yes, details l8r
05:05 TomRaftery : oops!
05:05 Suki_Fuller : I’d rather here but whatever you decide
05:05 TomRaftery : HomeCamp that was supposed to be!
05:05 Suki_Fuller : I hope so.
05:05 cgarvey : lol, that was an impressive typo
05:06 TomRaftery : LOL
05:06 verowhite : lol
05:06 mikeTheBee : Its still Green 🙂
05:06 TomRaftery : Yup – I’m interested in getting people more involved
05:06 Suki_Fuller : That roll your own video very nice and short
05:06 mikeTheBee : Cheers Ctach you l8r
05:06 TomRaftery : If you can come to a venue in SL
05:06 TomRaftery : And participate that way, it may feel more real
05:07 TomRaftery : more like you are participating
05:07 verowhite : bye Mike, thanks for helping me earlier
05:07 cgarvey : I’m off to read about SmartBay .. cheers for the show Tom

post

Roll your own Green job

Do you want a job in Sustainability in your company? Are you enthused by the idea of doing the ‘right thing’ both for your company and for the planet?

Our own James Governor talked to Tony Rooke, Logica’s Head of Sustainability and Environment, about how Tony created his own position within the the company.

Lessons to be learned there…