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.


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.


July 6th Energy and Sustainability show

Yesterday’s GreenMonk Energy and Sustainability show went off without the technical hitches which plagued the previous week’s show. I fixed the chat app and the Google Calendar button so you can now add the show to your calendar (and be notified of any changes to the schedule).

Consequently with the chat app now working in Firefox, there was far greater audience participation in the show – something which was sorely missing from the previous week’s show!

Here is this week’s chatstream:

03:31 Tom Raftery: Hows is the audio, video & chat?
03:31 MikeTheBee: stopped
03:31 MikeTheBee: no audio or vid 4 me
03:32 MikeTheBee: back now
03:32 MikeTheBee: did a refresh
03:33 liveireland: all you need now is greenscreen
03:33 MikeTheBee: lol
03:33 MikeTheBee: oooh
03:34 Tom Raftery:
03:35 Tom Raftery:
03:36 MikeTheBee: google calendar link is now working for me.
03:36 PaulMWatson: I hope that water is sustainable…
03:36 MikeTheBee: that is why they are not really rebuilding then
03:37 monkchips: canada??? whats up with that?
03:37 monkchips: tom – the new setup is awesome! you look so much better
03:37 Tom Raftery:
03:37 monkchips: no need for american panstick makeup
03:38 monkchips: hello mikethebee
03:38 Roland: Calendar link works fine for me too!
03:38 MikeTheBee: hi mc
03:40 Tom Raftery:
03:40 cgarvey: Re: Canada; Read up on Steve Harper and you’ll see he’s not to far removed from George Bush at all at all.
03:41 monkchips: as i understand it
03:41 MikeTheBee: And we were going to harvest that sea grass for fuel.
03:41 monkchips: coastal syndrome is often reversible
03:41 monkchips: *if* we get well off it.
03:42 Tom Raftery:
03:44 Tom Raftery:
03:44 Tom Raftery:
03:45 MikeTheBee: sarcasm does not become you 🙂
03:46 Tom Raftery:
03:47 Tom Raftery:
03:47 MikeTheBee: You must need it for all your flights
03:48 monkchips: you love it you dirty carbon *****
03:50 Tom Raftery:
03:51 liveireland: me too.. i work in electrical engineering
03:51 MikeTheBee: Can we enhance the smart meter using CurrentCost type controllers
03:51 Tom Raftery:
03:53 Tom Raftery:
03:53 monkchips: i would happily pay directly for that
03:55 monkchips: holy ****
03:55 monkchips: we have to write that up
03:55 Tom Raftery:
03:56 cgarvey: “The WaterBoxx gives them a head start, Hoff explains” .. g’wan The Hoff! Omni-present!
03:57 Tom Raftery:
03:58 PaulMWatson: Good for water treatment and run-off problems too
03:58 Tom Raftery:
03:59 Tom Raftery:
03:59 PaulMWatson: Water usage of vegitecture? Maybe use WaterBox condensation techniques
04:01 SukiFuller: Better late than never – howdy folks!
04:01 PaulMWatson: Could filter greywater through the walls? Like some green-homes
04:02 monkchips: they always overwhelm the sewers too
04:02 monkchips: so you get a LOT of pollution hits
04:02 PaulMWatson: Good point about storm drain problems. e.g. Dublin.
04:02 monkchips: the water supply
04:02 monkchips: thus for example the awesoem progress we made in thames
04:02 monkchips: really threw us back
04:02 Tom Raftery:
04:03 Tom Raftery:
04:05 Tom Raftery:
04:05 MikeTheBee: I’m still seeing people hard cover their gardens when they have the money, rather than using ‘old hat’ lime chippings
04:05 monkchips: where does that monkchips find the time?
04:06 SukiFuller: Who is that monkchips dude?
04:06 MikeTheBee: one cool dude, that guy
04:07 PaulMWatson: @MikeTheBee I’ll bet the builders-rubbish 1 foot down in most Irish gardens doesn’t help either.
04:07 MikeTheBee: Dublin is built on marsh like London is it not?
04:07 SukiFuller: Oh @mikethebee you are such a sucker – he’s a ponce!
04:08 MikeTheBee: <8 04:08 MikeTheBee: good news 04:08 liveireland: great show thanks 04:08 cgarvey: Cheers for the show again Tom 04:08 SukiFuller: BTW - I am going to China next month for 1 year 04:08 monkchips: well done tom 04:08 monkchips: loving the show 04:08 monkchips: and the new room is so much better 04:09 monkchips: 😉 04:09 MikeTheBee: good show, good luck suki, report back via greemonk 04:09 MikeTheBee: cherrs TOm 04:09 SukiFuller: Cheers Tom 04:09 PaulMWatson: Cheers Tom 04:09 SukiFuller: Mike I shall - that monkchips gets all my news first 04:10 Tom Raftery: Thanks everyone for your contributions - made all the difference to the show


The financial markets might be in trouble but renewables are seeing boom times!

renewable energy

Photo Credit pseudorlaya

A couple of interesting announcements were made in Ireland in the last week.

On the 8th of Oct., Eirgrid, the Irish grid operator launched their Grid25 strategy (pdf warning). In the strategy document they announced they are spending €4 billion reinforcing the Irish distribution grid in the expectation of a 60% rise in electricity usage.

The Irish Environment Minister, John Gormley in his Carbon Budget announced that the Irish government is going to target that 40% of electricity consumed in Ireland would be from renewable sources by 2020. This is an increase over the previously stated, already ambitious target, of 33% from renewables.

Ireland had an average electrical demand of 3.2GW in 2007. A 60% increase means an average consumption of 5GW by 2025 and an average of 4.5GW in 2020. This is the date the government has set as its target of 40% from renewables.

40% of 4.5GW means that Ireland will average 1.8GW from renewables in 2020. Assuming that this will come from wind (there is no other viable renewable energy source in Ireland), this will require 5.4GW of installed wind capacity.

Ireland currently has 1GW of installed wind capacity so to hit the target it needs 4.4GW of wind farms to be built.

That’s 366MW per annum or just over 1MW every day until 2020! A 1MW wind turbine would be a significant structure costing in excess of €1m.

So the Irish government has set as a target the sourcing of 1MW extra from wind energy every day for the next 12 years?

I also spotted today that StrategyEye in their new quarterly report are reporting that investment in the Cleantech sector is up 50% this quarter, compared to the first quarter of 2008.

The financial markets might be in trouble but renewables are definitely seeing boom times!


Large Hadron Collider? Our priorities are way off!

Photo Credit Image Editor

While it is exciting to watch the stories breaking today about the successful startup of the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, I have to wonder about the price tag.

The total cost of the LHC is estimated at between €3.2 to €6.4 billion and while that is a wide margin, even if it is closer to the €3.2 billion mark that is still a huge amount of money to spend trying to confirm “the predictions and missing links in the Standard Model of physics”. And that is just the financial cost – the amount of CO2 put into the atmosphere by its build and operation must be staggering.

I would far prefer to see all this money and effort being channelled into renewable research. Imagine how much more advanced wind, solar and wave/tidal energies could be now if scientists had €4b of research grants to work with.

I’m a scientist by training and I don’t for a second underestimate the benefits to mankind of being able to explain how elementary particles acquire properties such as mass but I do think that with our polar ice caps melting and small island nations becoming submerged, our priorities on this one are a little mixed up.