Category Archives: Energy

White House: Energy Data Tools

The White House demonstrated how energy data is fueling new products and services aimed at promoting greater energy efficiency in America. It announced several new initiatives to make government data more accessible to developers and the public. Last week, The US Department of Energy has doubled the number of datasets to more than 900 in the past 90 days that are publicly available on Energy.Data.Gov.

Additionally, the White House announced four new programming tools to make it easier to inject government data into commercial applications to help entrepreneurs build applications that can enhance the overall quality of life. This proves how conscious the US government is about the effects of opening up data to the wider public.

The new application programming interfaces (or API’s) are meant to help entrepreneurs build applications that can help commercial businesses and residential utility customers better manage their energy consumption and lower their utility bills.

The new API’s are the following:

Electricity API: The Energy Information Administration (EIA) announced the development of an API for its series on monthly, quarterly, and annual data for electric generation, consumption, and retail sales.

Fuel Economy API: The Department of Energy (DOE) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) jointly announced the development of a new interface for data from the fueleconomy.gov website. The API will provide access to all of the data currently displayed in the “Find and Compare Cars” interactive tool, which includes model years 1984 through 2013.

Environmental APIs: The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the development of its enhanced Envirofacts API, which will greatly improve the technical community’s degree of access to environmental datasets.

Biomass API: The Department of Energy (DOE) announced the development of an API for biomass data that capitalizes on the “U.S. Billion Ton Report” – a landmark study on biomass as a feedstock for bioenergy. That information will now be more readily available and useful to researchers and software developers.

In general, it is good to see that the US government becomes increasingly aware of the benefits of opening up data. Hopefully, this trend will be copied by national authorities globally to create a new entrepreneurial ecosystem.

 

Intel at Connected Liverpool

Last Friday was a most interesting day for the Connected Liverpool Team. It was delighted to welcome Ajit Jaokar, CEO futuretext, and Sandhiprakash (Sandhi) Bhide, Senior Strategist and Technologist at Intel (Oregon), in Liverpool to spend the day meeting Smart City developers.

The main goal for Sandhi was to get an understanding of Liverpool’s most challenging issues and to learn from the city’s initiatives to make the city smarter and better connected. To do so, Connected Liverpool had arranged for him to meet several thought leaders in the city who are all using their strengths and sharpening their focus to revitalise the Liverpool City Region.

At 9 a.m., we started our first meeting with Deputy Lord Mayor Gary Millar at the Town Hall where also Professor Alan Harding, Head Department of Public Policy University of Liverpool, joined us. After a most interesting guided tour through the Town Hall provided by Garry Millar, coffee and tea was served and the conversation around ‘Smart’ Liverpool was opened.

After the Town Hall, we visited Liverpool Vision – the city’s economic development company – where we first met up with Lisa Ashby, Business Growth Manager at Liverpool Vision, Rajinder Basi from The Vault, and Leslie Beattie, Head of Commercial and Visitor Economy at Liverpool City Council. Meeting these people was most important for Sandhi to get an understanding of the city’s Business and Visitor Economy developments and plans for the upcoming years. The use and storage of data was a regular returning topic as well.

At 11.30 a.m., Connected Liverpool, Ajit Jaokar, Sandhi and Professor Alan Harding met Max Steinberg OBE, Chief Executive Liverpool Vision – in his office in the Liverpool Vision building. Max Steinberg explained Liverpool’s impressive plans to attract more investment, create jobs and drive the economy with such projects as the International Festival of Business, the Wirral International Trade Centre, and Mersey Waters. Additionally, a great amount of time was spent to discuss Liverpool’s steps forward to become a smarter city. Topics such as enhancing the quality of life and empowering citizens to achieve more in collaboration with partners outside the Liverpool City Region were high on the agenda.

At 12.15 p.m., lunch was served in the Royal Liver Building in the beautiful space “The Light” of Rights and Humanity. In the good company of Professor Julia Hausermann MBE, we enjoyed a lovely meal to close a successful and most interesting morning.

Straight after lunch, we visited Mike Taylor, Smart City Board and Director of High Growth at the LEP, in the Local Enterprise Partnership office next to the Mersey. Mike Taylor informed Sandhi about the LEP’s agenda regarding the key growth sectors of the Knowledge Economy, Visitor Economy, Low Carbon and the SuperPort to accelerate the rate of growth within the Liverpool City Region. A most informative and detailed talk which shows how ambitious this organisation is.

Meeting Professor Ahmed Al-Shamma’a, Built Environment Sustainable Technologies (BEST) Research Institute, was scheduled at 2 p.m. This was a most interesting meeting, the professor showed us his sensor laboratory and demonstrated some of his cutting edge work with sensors and microchips. Sandhi was most impressed with his work and we are looking forward to meet Professor Ahmed Al-Shamma’a again soon.

Our last meeting was at the University of Liverpool where we met up with Professor Yi Huang and Doctor Yaochun Shen of the Electrical Engineering Department. As Connected Liverpool is closely collaborating with this and other departments within the University of Liverpool, this was a perfect final visit of the day.

All together, a most interesting day with interesting people. We truly hope that Sandhi from Intel got a better understanding of the community spirit in Liverpool to transform the city into a smarter and better-connected place. We also like to thank Ajit Jaokar for his work in making this possible. It was a pleasure to have you with us again Ajit!

 

 

Smart City Wien

Even though we are very much aware of ‘Smart City Benchmarks’ around the world such as in the US and in Asia, the city Vienna which is just around the corner manages to keep its presence in the Top-5 of most Smart Cities around the globe. With its 1.7 million inhabitants, the Austrian capital Vienna is one of the best examples of urban quality of life in the world. Smart City Vienna is a project consortium under the direction of the Vienna city administration.

The main goal of the Vienna city administration seems to be focused around energy. Smart City Vienna formulates Vienna’s energy future as a long-term Smart Energy Vision 2050, Roadmap 2020 and Action Plan 2012-2015.

Vienna is very much focused on stakeholder involvement, relevant stakeholders affected directly by the above mentioned climate/ energy plans are invited to actively participate in the Smart City Forums. The city really seems to have adopted a bottom-up approach. A special steering group was set up to lead the stakeholder progress.

Thomas Madreiter, Project Manager – Municipal Department – Urban Development and Planning, stated the following:

“Vienna meets all the requirements as a smart city to have a leading role in climate-related research and technological development in Europe. With the FIT for SET programme we will launch the necessary measures in order to make the most of our advantages.”

The FIT for SET programme refers to the stakeholder involvement project we mentioned earlier. Smart City Vienna has many different partners such as Siemens AG Österreich, the Austrian Institute of Technology (AIT) and the Vienna University of Technology to realise their agenda of a smarter Vienna.

We are keen to watch their progress in their Smart City adventure, we’ll keep you posted!

 

 



Foresight Centre & Merseyside Celebration 2012

Yesterday at 2 p.m., Connected Liverpool left the office to join the Low Carbon Liverpool event: Liverpool Green Capital? at the Foresight centre (The University of Liverpool). It was an interesting event with roundtables to discuss whether Liverpool should participate in the competition to become the “Green Capital” attended by academia, the public and private sector. Every table got the opportunity to share their thoughts and ideas in making Liverpool greener and more sustainable, an excellent event with great speakers.

Just before the event, Innovation Lead Jordy van Kuijk catched up with Shadow Climate Change Minister Luciana Berger to discuss the Green Deal. Jordy: “It was good to speak to such a driven individual. She is very committed to achieve her vision of a greener society. It would be good to collaborate in the near future as her agenda points match our agenda points”.

At 6.15 p.m., CEO Lee Omar and Innovation Lead Jordy van Kuijk left the Foresight Centre for the Merseyside Celebration 2012 at the Atlantic Tower Thistle Hotel in Liverpool. The purpose of Celebration 2012 was to “celebrate CMI (Chartered Management Institute) student’s achievements, the importance and the success of the Global Entrepreneurs Congress 2012, Merseyside’s positive future and the role that CMI has to play in that future”, according to the organisation.

The recently appointed CMI Chief Executive, Ann Francke CCMI, started off by providing the attendees with an update on CMI’s strategic vision, plans for the future, how CMI can collaborate with other professional bodies and educational establishments, and the role of CMI in the North West. It was Ann’s first branch event outside of London.

The keynote speaker was Max Steinberg, the Chief Executive of Liverpool Vision. Max commented on the Merseyside journey and its recent achievements compared to 5 to 10 years ago. Perhaps even more interestingly, was his speech about the future of Liverpool and the many investment projects the city is awaiting such as the International Festival of Business 2014, the 2013 Schools Enterprise Challenge, a new 5-star hotel next to the Echo Arena and the renovation of Stanley Dock to name a few. One thing is sure, Liverpool will become increasingly important in the UK in the upcoming years which is something we are amazingly proud of.

Throughout the evening, all attendants enjoyed a lovely 3-course dinner enabling the attendants to catch up and network with the many interesting guests that were present from the academic, private and public sector. All together, an amazing celebration.

 

South Africa – Energising Alternatives

In an attempt to reduce the negative environmental externalities related to heavy-coal-fired electricity generation, South Africa is stepping up efforts to increase the role renewable energy plays in its progressively overstretched electricity sector, pushing ahead with a series of programmes aimed at harvesting the nation’s infinite alternate resources.

The government has moved to bring the agencies charged with promoting this new sustainable energy use under one roof, launching the South African national energy development institute (SANEDI) on July 19. The new organisation, which will power the research and development of indigenous green-energy innovations in partnership with science councils, universities and private industry, combines two previous bodies, the National Energy Efficiency Agency and the South African National Energy Institute.

The country is already adapting to reinforce the contribution of renewables to its energy sector. The Department of Energy (DoE) is in the final stages of sealing up to 28 renewable energy proposals that were first accepted back in December 2011, with the signing of implementation, connection and power purchase agreements for a raft of projects set for August.

The initial projects – the first part of the department’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Programme (REIPPPP) – is comprised of 18 solar photovoltaic projects with a total capacity of 631.53 MW; two concentrated solar power projects, with 150 MW of combined capacity; and eight onshore wind developments, representing 633.9 MW.

An addition round of 19 projects were assessed in May and a call for the third series of proposals will be issued in the near term, part of the government’s programme to be creating at least 3725 MW of renewable energy and have the tools installed by 2016, with the first projected forecast to come online by 2014.

While the government is keen to promote renewable energy, the delays in its first round of REIPPP projects do highlight difficulties, including financial backing for less-conventional and smaller-scale developments.  Investors may take a renewed outlook on later generations of renewable power generation depending on how successful these initial round of REIPPP projects can prove to be.

However, while SANEDI and schemes such as REIPPP represent the government’s commitment to green energy, the country is keen to maintain as diversified a portfolio as possible, not only to avoid repeats of the load=shedding issues it faced in 2008 but also to reduce exposure to potential swings in commodity prices.

This is most evident in the government’s continued efforts to expand nuclear power generation in the country. Dipuo Peters, the minister of energy, used the introduction  of the new SANEDI agency to underscore the government’s commitment to nuclear energy, as well as with the more traditional use of coal as an energy source.

“We need to use and will continue using nuclear energy for feeding, healing, energy and water provision,” Peters said.

South Africa has plans to construct nuclear power stations with a combined capacity of 9.6 GW by 2030, with at least six such plants being considered along with the sole station already in operation, with their output dwarfing that of the proposed alternative energy programme. Firms from Russia, China and South Korea are among the contenders for the lucrative contracts that will stem from South Africa’s atomic energy programme, with Russian state-owned nuclear energy group Rosatom opening a local office in mid-July to promote its interests.

Coal currently dominates South Africa’s energy mix accounting for 73.4% of primary energy and 90% of electricity in 2010, whilst diversification is a primary, the carbon-based fuel will likely maintain it’s primary position for decades to come. The DoE estimate that coal will continue to be used for the next 100 years, with the minister saying it was indispensable, “as long as we want to keep the lights on”.

South Africa’s push for the promotion of renewable energy is attracting interest from abroad as Chinese firm Powerway Renewable Energy announced it would be investing $1.2m to build several factories and produce mounting and tracking systems for solar photovoltaic plans in July.

Benson Wu, the CEO of Powerway, said the investment aimed to take advantage of the anticipated growth in solar energy in the South African market, with his firm foreseeing the need to supply mounting structures for over 500 MW of solar farms annually.

If the government can sustain the private sectors thirst for alternative energy projects and lure financers in to back such schemes more developments will get up and running in the years to come. However, the challenge will ensure the survival of the project through to its formative and stages and the ability to expand into businesses that generate profits, as well as power.