France tops Food Sustainability Index yet again

France tops Food Sustainability Index yet again
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The Food Sustainability Index (FSI) 2017 has been released, ranking 34 countries according to their food system sustainability. These countries represent over 85% of global GDP and two-thirds of the global population.

The FSI was developed by The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) with the Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition Foundation (BCFN) as part of a research program commissioned by BCFN. It aims to investigate the key issues impacting food sustainability across three pillars: food loss and waste; sustainable agriculture; and nutritional challenges.

Repeating its success from 2016, France remains the world leader in food sustainability thanks to high scores across the FSI’s three pillars. Its performance was found to be particularly strong in the food loss and waste category, making it the clear leader in a world where one-third of all food produced globally is either lost or discarded.

Top-performing countries also include Japan, Germany, Spain, Sweden, Portugal, Italy, South Korea and Hungary. These countries typically demonstrate strong and effectively implemented government policy on food waste and loss, environmental conservation in agricultural practices, innovations in agriculture, and nutrition education.

Although high-income countries tend to perform well in the FSI, there are several outliers. Despite having the highest GDP per head, the UAE ranks last, reflecting a high level of food waste, rising levels of obesity and little opportunity for sustainable agriculture. Ethiopia, the poorest country in the FSI, meanwhile ranks a respectable 12th — two spots ahead of Australia.

The land down under ranked highly for food loss and waste thanks to high scores for both the food loss and end-user waste categories. The country scored more moderately for sustainable agriculture, with a high score for the water resources category counteracted by a weaker performance across the land use (particularly on agricultural diversification) and air categories. Australia’s score for nutritional challenges was also middling, as low and middling scores in the dietary patterns and life expectancy categories, respectively, mitigated a strong showing in the life quality category.

The US, meanwhile, languishes in 21st place in the overall FSI, coming in 31st place in terms of sustainable agriculture and 24th in terms of nutritional challenges, dragged down by elevated levels of consumption of meat and saturated fat. Furthermore, the sugar content of diets in the US was the highest among the 34 countries in the study.

“Sustainable food systems are vital in achieving the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals, notably ending hunger, achieving food security and improved nutrition, and promoting sustainable agriculture by 2030,” said EIU Managing Editor Martin Koehring. “However, major global developments such as climate change, rapid urbanisation, tourism, migration flows and the shift towards Westernised diets put food systems under pressure. The Food Sustainability Index is an important tool to help policymakers and other relevant stakeholders to design effective policies to improve food system sustainability.”

More details on the findings, scope and methodology can be found at

Image credit: ©

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Fancy a fish-skin leather jacket?

Fancy a fish-skin leather jacket?

With a maritime area of 5,000,000 km2, The Islands of Tahiti have significant marine resources. Seeking to take advantage of this, a small business named Ecocuir Tahiti Haumanava Tixier is utilising leftover raw materials from the ever-popular fishing industry to reduce wastage by creating fish-skin leather.

Ecocuir Tahiti targets both small craftsmen and high-end luxury clothing and accessory designers seeking the finest quality products. As a supplier of 100% eco-friendly fish leather, the business is at the forefront of innovation on the islands.

“One of the business’s main objectives is to educate and train local fishermen to process the skin without compromising the quality of the fish,” noted Raihei Dudes from Ecocuir Tahiti.

The process starts by collecting the fish waste from fishermen and fishmongers. The skin is then selected for vegetable tanning, where mango peel and bark from mimosa or badamier trees are often used.

Once the fish skin has been cleaned and scrubbed, it is ready to be bathed in the tannins. After four weeks of tanning, it is ready to be dried and softened.

The full manufacturing process takes up to six weeks. The end product is soft, strong and beautiful leather, comparable to snake skin, that is extremely resistant and waterproof.

“This rich, natural material and the craftsmanship have transformed waste into a high-end product, which is an eco-conscious alternative to traditional leathers,” Dudes said. “The 100% organic leather also provides The Islands of Tahiti with a fantastic new trade.”

Typically the fishing industry generates tonnes of waste; however, thanks to Ecocuir Tahiti, The Islands of Tahiti are now taking part in the circular economy. Using the raw materials and intricate techniques, the fish-skin project will aid waste prevention and offer further trade opportunities for the islands.

The business has now been awarded the equivalent of AU$52,000 for this innovative project — financial support that will not only help grow the business so it can continue to reduce waste on the island and supply more and more customers, but also help inspire other small businesses around the world to consider how they can use raw materials to prevent unnecessary wastage.

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World’s largest Li-ion battery marks one week of operation

World’s largest Li-ion battery marks one week of operation
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The world’s largest lithium-ion battery was switched on one week ago today at South Australia’s Hornsdale Power Reserve at Hornsdale Wind Farm, at an event attended by SA Premier Jay Weatherill and Neoen Deputy CEO Romain Desrousseaux. For the first time in the state’s history, clean and affordable wind energy can be dispatched to the grid 24 hours a day, seven days a week — whether the wind is blowing or not.

The launch was the culmination of an extraordinary journey which began when the state government announced its Energy Plan in March, with the objective of delivering cleaner, more affordable and more reliable energy to South Australians — and avoiding a repeat of the state-wide blackout that occurred in September 2016.

The plan included building the nation’s largest battery, to store renewable energy and have backup power on tap when required. The ability to dispatch into the system when needed would also open up the opportunity for Hornsdale Power Reserve to sign competitive long-term contracts with medium-sized businesses directly.

In July, following a competitive process, French renewable energy company Neoen and US sustainable energy company Tesla were awarded the contract to deliver the project, which would be installed near Jamestown, north of Adelaide. Tesla CEO Elon Musk made headlines when he agreed to deliver the battery within 100 days or at no charge, starting once the grid interconnection agreement has been signed.

Sixty-three days later, Musk had fulfilled his promise.

The 100 MW/129 MWh battery has since been installed at Hornsdale Power Reserve, where it is delivering power to the National Energy Market and providing system security services to South Australia. Engineering company Lloyd’s Register (LR) worked with Neoen to help deploy the technology by developing the technical parts of the grid connection, and ensuring compliance with the requirements of the Australian energy network.

“This was the first use of a new technology on the network, and required some out-of-the-box thinking,” noted Neoen Managing Director Franck Woitiez. “Now that we’ve successfully deployed the technology, there is a clear pathway to connecting storage projects to the network, which will greatly accelerate the pace of renewable energy growth in Australia and elsewhere.”

Premier Jay Weatherill described the launch as “history in the making”.

“South Australia is now leading the world in dispatchable renewable energy, delivered to homes and businesses 24/7,” he said.

“Neoen and Tesla approached the state government with their bold plan to deliver this project, and they have met all of their commitments, ensuring South Australia has backup power this summer.

“I want to express my gratitude to the workers who have constructed this battery — they have every right to be proud of what they’ve constructed.”

Image courtesy Hornsdale Power Reserve.

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Barangaroo set to export water

Barangaroo set to export water

With a projected production of more than 200 million litres annually, the recycled water plant at Lendlease’s Barangaroo will be capable of producing more water than it consumes, thereby making the plant an exporter of recycled water.

NSW Minister for Energy and Utilities Don Harwin held out Barangaroo as an example to the rest of the world of what partnerships between the government and the private sector can achieve — in this case building critical infrastructure which reinforces Sydney’s reputation as one of the world’s leading international cities.

“Lendlease has set a new precedent for water conservation in an urban area creating a positive and lasting legacy for both Barangaroo and the wider CBD,” Harwin said.

“This is a critical step to fulfil our ambition to make Barangaroo one of the world’s most sustainable urban regeneration precincts.

“The Barangaroo recycled water plant is a brilliant demonstration of the government and the private sector working together — there are now 20 private recycling schemes licensed under the Water Industry Competition Act statewide and I look forward to seeing many more,” Harwin said.

Lendlease Property Australia Chief Executive Kylie Rampa said integrating the plant with Barangaroo’s low-carbon, waste management and renewable energy strategies was the culmination of seven years’ work.

“Today’s opening of the Barangaroo South Recycled Water Plant represents a final piece in the puzzle towards us becoming Australia’s first water positive precinct,” Rampa said.

“Barangaroo’s other infrastructure network also includes the district cooling plant, which uses Sydney Harbour water to cool all precinct buildings, 188,500 litres of water tanks across the precinct, 6000 m2 of rooftop solar panels and a private power network.

“Once fully operational, the plant will be able to produce up to 200 million litres annually, equal to 70 Olympic-sized swimming pools and in addition to the 100 million litres of water annually saved by the centralised cooling plant.

“Opening the water treatment plant also means the most complex and sophisticated part of our efforts to save and re-use water is now in place and puts us in position to export recycled water for use in the Barangaroo neighbourhood.

“Barangaroo will be more than just a great place for people to live, work and relax — it will play an increasing role in helping our neighbours improve their sustainability credentials as well.”

Once fully operational, the Barangaroo plant will have the capacity to sewer mine, a process that produces additional recycled water from sewage for use in irrigation and other non-drinking uses.

“Lendlease’s ability to work long term on innovations such as our water initiative is part of our approach to solving long-term urban problems like water scarcity, one of Australia’s most pressing environmental concerns,” Rampa said.

“Our approach helps make our cities the best places.”

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Create a more sustainable workplace this Waste Not, Want Not Day

Create a more sustainable workplace this Waste Not, Want Not Day
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E-waste recycling service TechCollect is calling on Australian businesses to increase their recycling efforts and help reduce the amount of e-waste currently going into landfill ahead of its annual Waste Not, Want Not Day on 13 December.

According to TechCollect CEO Carmel Dollisson, it’s crucial that business owners ensure responsible waste management practices are in place not only for the environment, but to meet changing employee and customer expectations around this important issue. Recent research prepared for Planet Ark indicates that workers and the public are embracing organisations that take recycling seriously, with 82% of employees wanting to see more e-waste recycling in their workplaces and three out of four businesses agreeing that good waste management improves public perception of the business.

“Businesses who put sustainability at the top of their agenda report higher recruitment and staff retention rates, and an overall increase in employee engagement and productivity,” said Dollinsson. “As awareness of good recycling practice continues to grow among Australians, employees also expect their company to have an active environmental policy in place.

“Whilst there are many businesses doing a good job at recycling other items such as cardboard and paper, there is much more work to be done in the corporate sector in electronic waste recycling. We need to create an environment in which responsibilities are more evenly shared, encouraging businesses to become active players in the management and recycling of the electronic waste they’re responsible for, which will also encourage their employees to do the same at home.

“With Waste Not, Want Not Day approaching, we encourage all businesses and employees to mark 13 December in the calendar, get their old electronic devices out of the cupboard or company storerooms and ensure they’re responsibly recycled. TechCollect ensures that at least 90% of the valuable resources in those devices are put back into the manufacturing process to be re-used in new products — a far better outcome for the environment than creating new products from virgin materials.”

To get involved in TechCollect’s Waste Not, Want Not Day on 13 December, businesses can follow these easy steps:

  1. Gather all their unwanted and unused e-waste in the workplace (TechCollect will take TVs as well as computers and IT accessories).
  2. Call 1300 229 837 to see if they qualify for a free pickup (on the basis of quantity and location).
  3. If they don’t qualify for a free pickup, they can find their nearest free drop-off point at
  4. If they’re not close to a TechCollect service, they can search for other free services under the National Television and Computer Recycling Scheme at

“With Christmas just around the corner, we encourage businesses to give the ultimate gift back to the environment,” said Dollinsson. “During this quiet time of the year, it would be great to see businesses spend a couple of hours rounding up all the e-waste in the office. It’s good for their workforce, their corporate reputation and above all it’s good for the environment.”

Image credit: ©

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Looking for New Solar Markets? Think Water.

Looking for New Solar Markets? Think Water.

On December 6 at POWER-GEN International, solar experts presented compelling new market opportunities for solar power and distributed energy resources (DERs).

New market opportunities could be exactly what U.S. developers need to find, according to the first speaker, Paula Mints who showed her forecasts for the next five years. Mints said the solar industry is facing headwinds, including the potential solar tariffs that President Trump could impose on solar modules and cells imported into the country; the Secretary Perry Tax, which would impact large-scale solar developers; and tax reform, which could remove some of the subsidies for solar power in the U.S. Because of those headwinds, her forecasts for the next five years are essentially flat and she said she would probably need to adjust them down.

So if solar won’t be growing in the United States, where should developers look for new markets? One place is in disaster relief. Yung Wong, engineering manager with WorldWater and Solar Technologies explained that when disaster hits, the first thing that the Red Cross and the military do is fly in water bottles. He said that the cost to transport water comes out to about $1.85 per gallon whereas his company can provide drinking water for just a few cents per gallon though a mobile self-sustaining system that purifies water from any source. The system includes 3 kW of solar PV capacity and a 31-kWh deep cycle battery bank and transports as a 7-foot cube.  

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Wong said Puerto Rico has about 11 systems in place right now. Systems are also in place in Iraq, Haiti, and Darfur.

Mark Siira, another presenter in the session, showed attendees the results of an 18-month study on the global energy-water Nexus (EWN), which was conducted by 45 companies including ABB, Veolia, Rockwell Automation and many others. He believes the results of the study show a huge opportunity for solar and DERs to participate in EWN markets, to the tune of 2,265,000 GWh of power (a number equal to the power output of 140 nuclear power plants or 13 Three Gorges Dams).

The study looked at both how much water is used to make energy and how much energy is used to extract and deliver water on a global scale.  Siira said the EWN market today is worth about $241B and that by 2025 it will be worth more than double that at $496B.  Most of that additional money will be invested in improving the efficiency of water treatment and purification as well as implementing advanced controls at water treatment plants.

“One opportunity that jumped out at us are renewable inverters and microgrid integration to accelerate the integration of renewable resources in the EWN,” he said.

Image: The Energy Water Nexus Definition and Opportunity Space. Opportunities on the right are in the water sector, on the left are in the energy sector. Credit: Mark Siira, Director, Utility Compliance and Solutions, Comrent. 

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How Drones Will Transform Wind Turbine Inspections

How Drones Will Transform Wind Turbine Inspections

SkySpecs drone in flight. Credit: SkySpecs.

According to Anil Nanduri, GM of Intel’s drone segment, it’s not too often that a scalable technology comes along that will transform not only how certain business processes are performed but the entire businesses themselves.

Take wind farm inspections as an example, where drones are beginning to play a role in performing inspections of wind turbine blades.

“We believe these systems can capture defects better than what human eyes can do,” said Nanduri.

Intel is working to understand the pain points of its customers who use drones for inspections, such as Aerial Media Scotland, Surefire Imaging and Texo Drone. Nanduri said those pain points range from pilot fatigue, to data transfer, to data processing

“Our focus is how can our technology — the assets we have from the servers to the connectivity as well as the algorithms we can build for making this data available faster — be helpful tools for the inspectors.”

Easing Pilot Fatigue

One company making headway on the pilot fatigue pain point is SkySpecs, which has taken the pilot all but out of the equation, said CEO Danny Ellis.

“Nobody’s flying it. No one’s controlling the camera, no one is telling it when to take a picture. The drone is making all those decisions on its own,” he said.

The services that drone companies can provide to wind farm owners/operators will lead to faster, cheaper and more efficient operations and maintenance solutions, which will completely transform the O&M business.“, “sponsorPage” : null, “footerText” : “Brought To You By”, “authorLineLabel” : “By”, “showBylineLabel” : null, “showDatelineLabel” : null, “showPublicationDateLabel” : null, “authorSnippetLabel” : “By”, “showNativeInfoTooltipText” : true, “showNativeAdSynopsis” : true, “showByline” : true, “showDateline” : true, “showPublicationDate” : true, “hasAuthor” : true, “displayMultipleAuthors” : false, “showAuthor” : true, “showAuthorSnippet” : false, “showSubHeadline” : false, “showLiveFyreComments” : false }”>[Native Advertisement]

SkySpecs developed an autonomous drone that has been used to inspect 54 wind farms since its launch (pun intended) in April 2017, according to Ellis.

“I think we’ve taken probably almost 750,000 pictures this year since April,” he said.

Because there are line-of-sight regulations, meaning that drone operators have to maintain visual contact with their drones at all times, SkySpecs’ drones still rely on human beings.

“We basically have a safety officer on the ground,” Ellis explained. The person is there to change the batteries and drive the drone from one turbine to the next.

 SkySpecs data web portal where customers can navigate through inspection images, review identified damage type, size, and severity, and make decisions on repairs. Credit: SkySpecs.

SkySpecs data web portal where customers can navigate through inspection images, review identified damage type, size, and severity, and make decisions on repairs. Credit: SkySpecs.

Since the software instructs the drone when and where to take a photo, according to Ellis no two flight paths are the same, so watching it fly is pretty interesting.

“It’s really kind of fun at a site,” he said. “When you start the drone on one side and you move it to the other side at the same tower, it will choose two different flight paths in those two different inspections because it’s constantly optimizing for the shortest path.”

SkySpecs’ drones inspect wind turbine blades, looking for defects and damage from weather and wear. The drones also take complete turbine measurements that the company then correlates to the photos so it can pinpoint exactly where damage is when they find it. As the company matures, it will then be able to track damage over time, for example returning to the same wind farm one year later to see if the damage has gotten worse or stayed the same.

“Then we can come up with a recommendation for how to fix it,” said Ellis.

Data Fatigue

While Nanduri may be correct in that drones can capture defects better than human eyes, humans don’t have the capacity to process all of the data that wind-turbine-inspecting drones can capture.

“If a human doesn’t have a way to process that [data] it’s actually just overwhelming and sometimes a liability,” said Ellis, adding, “Our customers need decisions, they need them quickly.”

Nanduri agrees. “What the customers want is the results of that transformation,” he said, pointing out that drones may be transformational but it’s the services they provide that makes them transformational, not the drone technology itself.

Both SkySpecs and Intel are working to solve the problem of data fatigue. SkySpecs gives customers a report that highlights the most important features that the drone identified.

“We don’t ever just dump data on our customers,” he said.

As years go by, SkySpecs anticipates the ability to compare photos over time to gain a deeper understanding of how turbine blades age.

“Then we can apply analytics and image processing and these other computational methods to the data,” Ellis said. “[So that] we can start to standardize and have a deeper understanding of how everything is connected,” he added.

Ellis said that SkySpecs’ main focus is data, in particular how blade health affects the total power output of the turbine.

“When you look at your annual energy production, how it is affected by different types of damage?” he asked. The company is looking at leading edge erosion and lightning strikes and other types of wear and tear from different weather conditions. “It’s all about getting to that decision point,” said Ellis.

Can We All Agree on the Problem?

Ellis and Nanduri are both clear that drone-powered inspections are in their infancy. Each expert points to the needs for standards.

“There are no standards,” said Nanduro, arguing that once humans have agreed on the correct classification of a problem, then “the computer vision and machine learning aspects can apply.”

Ellis cites the same problem.

“It’s interesting to us…the different people we work with they all have a different scale of what damage is and which damage is important and they really don’t agree at all,” he said. For example, some of his clients believe that leading-edge erosion should be repaired right away.

“And others say let’s let it go for 5 years and see what happens,” he said. SkySpecs is hoping that its work with the industry will help arrive at some of those standard classifications of damage and when repairs are needed.

“We want to be able to bring a better understanding with our data in what should be done in those scenarios.”

A Whole New Business Process

As drone technology and data analytics mature, it’s clear that a transformation in the process of asset management is inevitable. According to Ellis drones are not a replacement technology but rather “an entirely new way of looking at how to maintain your blade.”

Through its work, SkySpecs is helping to create new standards that can apply to how a blade is manufactured in the first place. “We are also fitting in with how a blade is made and what are the standards to fix it,” he said. “We’re finding data that the industry has never had before.”

Nanduri believes that days of putting new technology on the market and letting it take off on itself are over. “Now you have to show the solution,” he said, “because that is what will lead to the business transformation.”

Phil Christensen of Bentley Systems envisions a day when offshore wind farms have a hanger for a drone and at set intervals (perhaps daily, monthly or quarterly) that drone will fly around the turbines and capture data, which it will then transmit back to the base for analysis — no human intervention at all.

For SkySpecs the focus now is on capturing as much data as possible and using it to find insights that can help the industry.

“For us it’s about standardizing that data collection and making sure that that the quality of that data is the same every single time,” said Ellis. “That’s what a robotic solution enables us. You know if it’s not robotic, it becomes really challenging,” he said.

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POWER-GEN 2017 Keynote – Convergence and Collaboration

POWER-GEN 2017 Keynote – Convergence and Collaboration


Though the power industry continues to endure rapid change in technology, demand and regulation, the five keynote speakers at POWER-GEN International 2017 focused on making the most of a changing market through convergence and collaboration.

Blake Moret, president and CEO of Rockwell Automation, said the convergence of automation and industrial operations requires strong hardware and software — but also people who can understand them both.

“One of the particular challenges that affects this industry and many others is the demand for skilled labor,” he said. “People who want to do this type of work and people who are comfortable with interacting with industrial control equipment.”

As a result, Rockwell encourages the concept of lifelong learning to its employees and clients in order to become more agile and integrate both IT and OT as they both continue to evolve.

Automation isn’t an instant process — companies must take the time to identify their problems, conduct studies, identify results and find ways to scale them across their entire fleet.

Though the challenge may seem daunting, industrial automation benefits companies by identifying ways to make operations more efficient. Moret said his company can typically lower downtime by 50 percent and increase efficiency by 25 percent.

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“As we simplify these processes, we can find more ways to be more productive,” he said.

Paul Browning, president and CEO of Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems Americas, came to POWER-GEN with a surprise announcement — the company has officially broken ground on the world’s first 65 percent efficient combined-cycle power plant that will be capable of fully autonomous operations. That 600 MW system should be ready by 2020.

Though the dramatic drop in the cost of electricity from renewable sources has been well-documented, Browning said natural gas has experienced a similar drop in cost, with an estimated drop of 12 percent each year over the last decade. Natural gas now produces electricity at $41 per MWh.

In some cases, the cost drop has been even more extreme. MHPS recently helped the Grand River Dam Authority replace its coal-fired Unit 3 with a gas-fired turbine that is the company’s first J-class turbine in North America.

“The delivered cost of electricity from that plant is less than the rail costs of coal deliveries alone,” Browning said.

Most nations of the world have signed up for ambitious carbon reduction goals via the Paris Agreement, and carbon emissions from China have started to peak. However, Browning noted that the power industry has already lowered carbon dioxide emissions by 24 percent since 2005. Studies indicate 40 percent of that was from renewables, 53 percent from a switch from coal to natural gas and the remainder is from the natural gas fleet becoming more efficient.

“This change was driven not by politics, but by markets and technology,” he said.

Even developing nations have started to switch from purchasing the less-advanced offerings from MHPS to the company’s more efficient technologies.

Stan Connally, chairman, president and CEO of Gulf Power, said Southern Company, parent company of Gulf Power, is now concentrating on finding more ways to fill in the value chain for their customers.

“Our relationship with the customer is changing,” he said. “The meter itself used to be a one-way device. Now it can provide information to the customer behind it in ways we hadn’t imagined.”

That’s motivated Southern to undertake acquisitions and create Southern Company Gas, a distribution company, and PowerSecure, an energy solutions provider.

In particular, PowerSecure provides distributed generation, fuel cells, energy storage and microgrids to better provide customers with on-site solutions. Connally said that, on average, PowerSecure’s 800 employees in Florida maintained 98 percent reliability during Hurricane Irma and its aftermath. That provided Southern Company with even more data on how to help its customers.

“Florida was the epicenter of our learning this year,” he said.

Stefan Bird, president and CEO of Pacific Power, said his company has strongly embraced wind and solar power, and is in the process of repowering its entire existing wind fleet to further take advantage of renewable generation.

However, that has presented a problem, as wind and solar power generation isn’t constant. Wind generators can go from zero generation to full capacity and back multiple times per day.

Though one popular solution is energy storage, Bird touted diversification as a way to keep power flowing even when certain resources are at rest.

“If you can put together a portfolio with uncorrelated assets, you have much lower risk,” Bird said.

Part of that diversification comes from Pacific Power’s membership in the Western Energy Imbalance Market. Under this system, participants import and export energy as needed on a minute-to-minute basis to keep power flow constant. For example, California exports surplus power during the day thanks to its strong solar generation, while importing power at night from windier areas that are still generating.

Bird estimated Pacific Power alone has saved $250 million in three years thanks to the arrangement.

But even coal can become a flexible resource, as he said Pacific Power has improved its equipment and controls to be able to ramp up and down more closely to changing power needs than the company has been able to in the past.

J. Patrick Kennedy, CEO at OSIsoft, said his operational intelligence company has run into the issue of software increasing much faster than the devices they’re meant to optimize. The power generation industry is no different.

“At the end of the day, customers want to lower the cost of power,” he said. “And it takes very sophisticated systems to do that.”

To give just one example, Kennedy said his company sourced battery storage for the construction for its new headquarters. At first, the battery cost $500,000, but before the project was finished, that cost dropped to less than half that.

“Every incremental drop in price of a solar cell, a battery or any other device will end up doubling and tripling the volume of these things,” he said.

That increased volume will help explode the amount of potential data points that can be measured. Though Kennedy said people tout that one trillion devices are waiting to enter the cloud, that doesn’t count the data already there and all kinds of sensors that haven’t been imagined yet.

Additionally, all that data will have multiple ownership rights, especially as increasing technology leads vendors to manage the products they supply. With the power industry, data ownership could change along with hourly changes in power needs and production.

However, Kennedy said that future technology isn’t impossible to predict, and his company and its clients don’t have to wait for trends to emerge before becoming prepared.

“What becomes dominant sits in the market 30 years before that,” he said. It just hasn’t been perfected. Everything we have to support exists today. Now we have to find out what we have to support.”

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Variety of Opportunities for Next-Gen Energy Workforce Focus of Women in Power Luncheon

Variety of Opportunities for Next-Gen Energy Workforce Focus of Women in Power Luncheon


About 50 people gathered on Dec. 5 at the Women in Power luncheon during POWER-GEN International in Las Vegas to hear the Woman of the Year and other finalists discuss their roles in affecting change in the energy industry, and the variety of opportunities in energy for the next generation of leaders.

Speaking during the luncheon, Ethiopia Electric Power CEO Azeb Asnake, winner of the 2017 Power Generation Woman of the Year award, acknowledged the significant energy demand that is growing in Ethiopia and the work her company is doing to meet it. As CEO, Azeb is in charge of construction and operation of Ethiopia Electric Power’s power plants and power distribution network.

She said that most of the company’s generation comes from hydroelectric power, but a recent drought demonstrated the need to diversify the energy supply. Asnake is leading the company in growing a fleet of generation, including wind and solar resources, that will provide 8,000 MW of new capacity for the country.

Reflecting on the rewards of their work during a panel discussion at the luncheon, Asnake, and Woman of the Year finalists Pamela Rauch, VP, External Affairs and Economic Development, Florida Power and Light; and Caroline Winn, Chief Operating Office, SDG&E, recognized the importance of workforce diversity and the value inherent in empowering and encouraging today’s younger generation.

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Rauch said that there are many new opportunities in the energy industry for young workers — both men and women.

“There are jobs that didn’t exist five years ago, especially on the tech side,” she said.

Winn agreed, noting that SDG&E didn’t have meteorologists in the company 10 years ago, but now they have meteorologists performing critical work for the utility. She said, for example, they support fire science, which delivers significant value for a utility operating in a state with a high rate of wild fires.

Asnake emphasized the importance of education, not only in enabling her career, but in ensuring new members of the energy workforce have access to opportunities in a range of fields.

All three panelists highlighted the importance of communication in carrying out a mission and vision for their companies.

Winn said that, at SDG&E, the utility uses a multidimensional, disciplined approach to communicate mission and vision.

“We challenge people to ask what they’ve done to support the vision,” Winn said, adding that the company works to make the vision easy to understand so employees know how they can contribute to it.

Asnake said that managers must be “meticulous” when they communicate the ideas behind a company vision.

And Rauch added that “it starts with how you build and connect with your team,” noting that, at the end of the day, “it’s a long-term process to build trust” with employees.

They must “own the vision” as much as management, she said.

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Energy Storage Made Practical

Energy Storage Made Practical

energy storage

Energy storage is undoubtedly a hot topic worldwide. And as more focus is placed on this vital piece of the electricity system puzzle, particularly in the face of the increasing deployment of intermittent wind and solar generating facilities and growing demand for renewable generation, more technologies and approaches are being developed to provide needed storage.

The panel discussion session entitled Recent Energy Storage Project Deployment Around the World that took place on Tuesday, Dec. 5, covered a variety of approaches being implemented worldwide, from hybrid gas turbines to combining steam generation and batteries to compressed air energy storage. Another presentation discussed distributed energy resources at the customer level.

An important point is that this session focused not on size of the energy storage solution but rather on the suitability of each to the unique situation for which they were deployed. Although when you discuss current actual deployed energy storage technology, pumped storage hydropower is at the top of the list, the focus of this discussion was more on smaller, more localized systems that are undoubtedly faster to deploy.

For example, Joe Heinzmann with GE Power Services presented information on a gas turbine-battery hybrid system with up to 50 MW nominal of operating reserve. The example given of application of this technology was Southern California Edison’s Grapeline Peaker project.

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Curtis VanWalleghem with Hydrostor discussed the company’s approach to storing compressed air in such a way that the facilities do not need to be sited near a salt mine but instead can be placed at the point of demand. Again, capacities of this technology were small, with systems of 660 kW and 2 MW being developed.

Michael Welch with Siemens AG covered the value of including batteries with steam or gas turbines. He discussed the importance of hybrid solutions to decarbonize power generation.

One unique portion of the presentation discussed locating storage at the customer’s location, with information covered by Matt Owens with Stem and Flavio Dal Lago with Socomec.

Engagement in the content by the audience was robust, with many questions posed. Often I find this portion of a conference session the most valuable and informative, as it indicates their interest in the topic and respect for the panelists as people who can help them get the answers they need. Additionally, audience members who have a special interest in this topic may also have valuable expertise to share with the audience.

One question that arose was around the idea of hydropower and its role as a storage technology – both conventional hydro and pumped storage. One panelist raised the point that pumped storage may not be considered an environmentally-friendly (read low greenhouse gas emitting) technology because it pulls power from the grid that may come from carbon-producing facilities. Session chair Vibhu Kaushik with Southern California Edison discussed the fact that hydropower is a great technology to be “hybridized” with these smaller and more readily available forms of energy storage and that his company is looking into the possibility of adding battery storage to hybridize some of its existing hydropower assets and thus, “a relatively small investment in storage can help unlock the potential of our hydro system,” he said.

Other topics of interest to the audience included the type of batteries being used most commonly and whether the people who are developing these energy storage systems are actually getting paid for the various ancillary services they provide. The answer was promising, with many panelists saying yes.

Energy storage is and will continue to be a hot topic. Look for further coverage of it as POWER-GEN International 2017 progresses.

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