How can the offshore wind industry unlock its cost saving potential?

Mathias Steck

Within the last decade a multi-billion Euro industry has been stemmed out of the European and UK waters to find itself confronted with the challenge today that it has to cut its cost down to nearly half to survive without subsidies in future. “Offshore wind is too expensive;” “Rueing the waves;” “Offshore Wind costs twice as much as coal and gas generated electricity”—are just a few headlines recently seen in western newspapers.

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Wave and tidal stream energy in the UK: funding for early arrays, not market reform, explain recent setbacks

Fliss Jones

In the first of two blogs on the future of wave & tidal energy, Fliss Jones argues that, given recent setbacks, the fate of the sector rests in its ability to deliver near-term wins on the first arrays.

It’s been a tumultuous few days for wave and tidal, with high profile wave developer Pelamis going into administration, and Siemens announcing plans to exit the tidal stream business.

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Intelligent Efficiency – Beyond the Components of Energy Efficiency

Karen Maoz

What is Intelligent Efficiency? Basically, IE connects the dots of all things energy using information and communication technology (ICT) to reduce energy consumption.  IE can be very localized—a single system or household—or expand to include a set of households in a neighborhood, a portfolio of buildings, a city, or even the whole utility grid.

IE was the subject of a recent American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) conference.  ACEEE defines IE as “a systems-based holistic approach to energy savings, enabled by ICT and user access to real-time information. Intelligent efficiency differs from component energy efficiency in that it is adaptive, anticipatory, and networked.”

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Energy Audits redefined

Sophie Chirez

Improving energy efficiency is the most cost-effective way to reduce energy related emissions. When saving opportunities require no capital investments, it’s even better, due to the extra bonus of helping a company remain competitive. The traditional energy audit puts little emphasis on identifying such “non-capital required” energy savings opportunities. We need a new definition of energy audit that encompasses these low-cost and no-cost options.

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The role of the utility of the future in the home of the future

Gomathi Sadhasivan

Predictions for the Home of the Future all agree on one key characteristic. It will be a smart home. An intelligent home. A connected home. The intelligent home of the future will have embedded technologies, broadly classified under the umbrella term “Home Automation Systems,” which will offer customers a solution to automate and control various aspects of their homes to provide improved convenience, comfort, efficiency, and security. Continue reading

RIIO’s risks: the good news is that they’re manageable

Rafiek Versmissen

Utilities are safe, predictable businesses, offering their shareholders safe, predictable returns. Everybody ‘knows’ that. But are they right to believe it?

Because increasingly, as we see more of Ofgem’s RIIO reforms, those assumptions of safe and predictable returns look more and more questionable.

And that’s because, as we said in our previous post, RIIO is all about playing by the rules. And should a DNO not play by the rules, then the stick that RIIO uses to punish DNOs is every bit as large as the carrot with which it rewards them.

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Technological initiatives in superconductivity – Taking “a step backwards to move forward”

Peter Vaessen

In my next few blogs I will look at transmission technology initiatives that seemed so promising some time ago, and perhaps even still are. As the old saying goes, sometimes you must “step backwards to move forward.” This week’s topic is superconductivity. Earlier this year CERN announced a breakthrough having successfully transmitted 20kA at 24K along a 2x20m MgB2-cable. The press release included future visions of power transmission full of superconducting cable replacing the classic power cable.

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A quiet revolution: smart metering’s hidden benefits

Matt Freeman

Back in the mid-1980s, telecommunications giant BT—or British Telecom, as it was then—launched a massive infrastructure project. Out would go the UK’s old analogue telephone exchanges, and in would come whizzy new digital ones.

The expense was enormous—hundreds of millions of pounds. In 1985, the first System X digital exchanges, sourced from GEC-Plessey, were switched on in Birmingham, Coventry, Leeds, and the City of London. A year later, the first System Y digital exchanges, sourced from Thorn Ericsson, began operating. Continue reading

Sustainable Buildings & Communities Insights: From Personal Passion to Business Value

Valerie Bryan

In this and hopefully future blogs, I’d like to talk about this notion of “value” and what it means from different perspectives—business value, sustainability value, and the unique value that each of us contributes through our personal passion and abilities. It seems logical that the ideal solution would be the perfect alignment of all three values.

For me, I’ve come to realize that my value lies more in who “I am” than what “I do.” I am a Senior Sustainability Consultant focused on existing buildings and portfolios. However, in reality, I’m a commercial real estate professional with a nearly lifelong passion for renewable energy and sustainability. Nearly 25 years ago (before LEED and “Green Building”), I walked away from the real estate development industry in pursuit of my Environmental Studies degree and dreams of an environmental career. My employer didn’t want to lose me, so they put me in charge of managing all things “environmental” for a Bay Area development and management company. That is when I first realized my ability to bring my environmental interests (what I love) into my job (what I do) in a way that reduced risk and created significant financial returns for the company. Continue reading

Imagining the unimaginable: Examining future climate change scenarios

Dick Bratcher

Superstorm Sandy, although not the most expensive hurricane to make U.S. landfall (Katrina holds that distinction), caused $65 billion in economic damages and was responsible for the death of 117 people in the United States. More than 8 million people were left without power in its aftermath. The havoc it wreaked on New York, New Jersey, and 20 other states was due to its immense size, its slow movement, and the fact that it made a direct hit on the coast of New Jersey. Continue reading