Searching for ecological nirvana in energy supplies

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Searching for ecological nirvana in energy supplies

Searching for ecological nirvana in energy supplies

“A society grows great when people plant trees whose shade they know they will never lie in.” - Greek Proverb I spent the best part of Saturday planting trees, flaxes, and ferns along a stream bank with my son, Tom, and his best mate. The task was “wholesome” according to Tom, as the plantings should facilitate the recovery of a stream that was once badly polluted but now runs mostly clear following positive steps by my dairy farmer neighbor to abide by the Fonterra clean stream accords. As I patted my own back for my newly enhanced green credentials, I turned my thoughts to the wider question of how governments wrestle with the challenge of leaving behind a better place for our grandchildren. As part of its efforts to reduce emissions, the Government asked the Interim Climate Change Committee to provide advice on planning for the transition to 100 percent renewable electricity by 2035. The Government has also set a target for New Zealand’s economy to produce net-zero emissions by 2050. Admirable goals, for sure, but does this approach stack up? When I run the numbers it is questionable whether going after more renewable energy is even worth it beyond a certain point. Hang on a minute At current rates of clean energy build, New Zealand should reach around 93 percent renewables by 2035, well short of the target set by the current Government. Going faster towards renewables would come with an uninviting economic burden. It is unlikely we will see much public demand for more hydro dams, so we are likely to be building out solar, wind and geothermal sources of energy. This would prove very costly on a national scale. The closer we get to a reliance of 100 percent renewable energy, the more expensive it becomes to generate each unit of additional power. It’s a law of diminishing returns. The net result is that the consumer will end up paying ever-increasing energy prices as we strive for ecological nirvana. The Government could, in this scenario, tax fossil fuels at an ever-increasing rate to keep electricity competitive, while passing laws that force consumers to switch. In the end, this would be political suicide and a market-distorting approach that could yield all sorts of unintended consequences. Light bulb moment On the other hand, fossil fuels used in transport and process heat offer a sensible, more economic option for change. These activities account for six times the greenhouse gas emissions of electricity production. Under this scenario, electricity prices would remain affordable and the emissions savings would be substantially higher from day one. It was with this in mind that the Commission recommended that the Government amended its 100 percent renewal electricity future vision for the more realistic and attainable transport and process heat transformation approach. It is telling to note that this approach also offers incremental benefits, with every new electric vehicle or process heat facility reducing emissions on day one and into the future. There are three major initiatives recommended by the Commission that, as I see them, make economic sense and deliver positive results in the short-, medium- and long-term. Those sensible recommendations are: Phase-out of fossil fuels for process heat by deterring the development of any new fossil fuel process heat, and setting a clearly defined timetable to phase out fossil fuels in existing process heat facilities. Set a target and develop incentives to reduce emissions from transport by converting to electric vehicles. Investigate the potential for pumped hydro storage to eliminate the use of fossil fuels in the electricity system. Meanwhile, I am off to plant another tree or two. My great-grandchildren might enjoy it's shade one day.

Sustainability now considered economic and environmental

Sustainability now considered economic and environmental

New Zealand has set a target under the Paris Agreement to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 30% below 2005 levels by 2030, and to adopt increasingly more ambitious targets in the future. Per capita, New Zealand's emissions are one of the highest in the world with an output of <1% of the total world's emissions. Business New Zealand recently released a report which concluded that "opportunities to improve our performance in productivity and renewable penetration lie in every part of the energy supply chain. While productivity and renewables are not necessarily mutually exclusive, we need to consider the best policy balance. Our country is richly endowed with resources so should our focus be primarily on economic growth with a reliance on carbon prices to guide renewable penetration, or do we need stronger policy support for low-carbon economic output? With an economy heavily driven by trade, the cost of our choices has direct consequences for our international competitiveness. And, since our future is uncertain, how do we remain responsive and resilient to changes in the world around us?" There is no doubt that the current Government's policy strategy is being geared to meet the targets under the Paris Climate Accord. The Insights Behind Sustainable Business Growth Centrica recently published the following survey of businesses in 10 countries (UK, Ireland, Germany, Italy, France, Hungary, Belgium, Netherlands, USA and Mexico) and across 7 verticals (manufacturing, retail/ wholesale trade, healthcare/ medical, education/schools/universities, construction/ trades/ property development, travel/tourism/hospitality and property/real estate). The survey identified some interesting trends: Customers are driving change Perceived risks are growing Energy is an increasingly vital part of an overall business strategy Yet only 1 in 8 businesses are doing it successfully They concluded that in today’s fast-changing world, businesses need to find an innovative way to balance their financial performance and environmental policies using the following key focus areas. What does this mean for your business? Becoming a supportable business isn’t something that can be achieved overnight, and the journey can be challenging. Many successful businesses are complementing their internal expertise by engaging a third party, like Total Utilities, to help them understand the energy market and associated technologies, build business cases and engage stakeholders.

Tech That Keeps The Planet Cool

I lit my first fire at home for the year on the unusual date of May 31, just one day before the official beginning of winter. I live in the sunny north side of Auckland, but I would have expected to see my dog sleeping in front of the fire by around late April. There are some of us who believe that to the detriment of future generations the planet is suffering from global warming and others who feel that the scientific consensus is still a long way from being agreed. Either way, I do believe there is a general accord that we can’t keep consuming the planet’s resources at the rate we are, without very dire consequences. Whether it is to save the planet or to drive efficiency, businesses are now using technology to reduce their carbon footprint. Some of these are unexciting and some are just plain cool. Either way, I describe below a few to pay attention to. Tech to reduce the footprint Methane co-generation Very few people realize that Auckland’s largest landfill is also an energy park. The rubbish that goes into Waste Management’s Redvale Landfill captures more than 95 percent of the methane gas that is generated from the waste, which is then used to generate up to 14MW of electricity. Last year this meant it generated enough electricity to power 12,000 homes, making it the largest producer of renewable electricity in the Auckland region. Heat recovery Energy-intensive businesses, supported in some cases by subsidies from the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA), are now placing increased emphasis on the reuse and reinjection of heated water and steam in their industrial processes. We at Total Utilities have, as a result, seen excellent improvements in energy efficiency at factories and larger campuses. Heat recovery is also used for go-generation where energy is converted to electricity and put back on the national grid. Sensors, monitoring and the Internet of Things (IOT) There is a difference between managing and monitoring business activities. A simple analogy is parents in the park: one couple hovers over their beloved children, constantly checking and rechecking their safety while exhausting everyone in the process; meanwhile, over at the park bench, another couple enjoys the sun, chats and drinks coffee while watching their young ones interact safely with the world and only interfering when they observe a real problem. In the past, businesses used product-specific sensors to monitor equipment and processes. These sensors tended to be expensive, proprietary and clunky in their outputs (think: complex graphs on green screens). Today an edgy new cousin has turned up, reducing the cost of monitoring, and providing rich insights via web-based applications that run on almost every device. This is called the Internet of Things (IOT). These simple, useful sensors provide streams of meaningful data about electricity consumption, temperature, process efficiency, humidity and more. Artificial intelligence While the Internet of Things sounds a bit like Nirvana, it does have one significant flaw: complexity. In theory, we could provide an IoT connector to every grain of sand on Earth without consuming all the available capacity. Making sense of all the data it reports is the big problem. This is where Artificial Intelligence (AI) comes in. Capable of analyzing billions of bits of data from multiple data sources, AI is being used by many businesses to sift huge data pools and deliver the insights and activities that deliver competitive advantage and reduce wastage.

What does a risk-free cloud migration look like?

The below article was published recently in IT Brief New Zealand magazine. The -aaS consumption model is nothing new when it comes down to brass tacks - it's exactly how we've been consuming electricity ever since Edison and Tesla were squabbling. Over the last 130 or so years, electricity consumption has risen and with it, the cost. This is why Total Utilities stepped in to help businesses in New Zealand ensure that their power costs were being thoughtfully managed through analysis of quantitative and qualitative data. Now, the team at Total Utilities have brought their years of experience and the array of tools at their disposal to help enterprises transition to the cloud in the most cost-effective and outcome-focused way possible. Total Utilities strategy and transformation director David Spratt explained that as a company that specialises in the analysis of data, migration to the cloud is a no-brainer. “The intellectual battle over the cloud is done,” Spratt says. “if you haven’t heard about the multitude of advantages that public cloud can bring to any organisation, then you haven’t been listening. To be competitive from our corner of the world, you need to be using world-class technology and today, that means public cloud." Every day, more enterprises move onto the cloud. Every day, another startup is born there, ready to displace their predecessors. And every day, you have someone else tell you that if you don’t move now, you’re done for. Total Utilities is not interested in this kind of manic hyperbole. In fact, the team’s knowledge and expertise in the cloud was inspired not just by their love of the tech, but more importantly by their passion for saving money for their clients. “As a completely vendor-agnostic consultancy, we aren’t trying to convince anyone to spend more or upsell to products they don’t need,” Spratt explains. “If your company has brand new servers that are fully functional and ticking along happily, you probably aren't interested in migrating everything right now. We understand that and want to guide both IT specialists and C-level executives to make the right decisions about what should be moved, how it should be moved, and when to move it.” Total Utilities helps organisations bridge the communication gap between IT and the C-suite, speaking both languages, and suggesting clear, evidence-based options that are all about making life easy for the techies, and making money for the execs. This is not some upstart company aiming to build their experience - for the last five years, they have worked with New Zealand’s major kiwifruit exporter and agricultural giant Zespri, providing financial insights and ongoing evidence of the value that migrating to Azure has brought. “We said to Zespri, ‘Are you really in the business of owning and operating IT?’ And of course they’re not,” Spratt elaborates. “But certain key services they have to deliver. So how do you get out of the business of owning and operating tin boxes that go ping, and into the business of providing all the services that give a business strategic advantages?" Total Utilities performed assessments in every area to see what the cloud could offer. They looked at the obvious benefits like the ability to copy/paste their systems for deployment in any country, simplified disaster recovery and backup, and the ability to scale up or down based on crop yield. Scalability ended up being a key driver for Zespri as this transformation occurred at the same time as the much-publicised Psa disease that threatened to wipe out their gold kiwifruit stock. Zespri wasn’t sure if it would end up with shipping numbers dropping from 80 million to 40 million, or if a new strain of fruit would take successfully and end up yielding 140 million. Total Utilities showed them how being in the cloud would mean they were ready for any eventuality. But then they even dug deeper, looking at the cost per square metre of housing private servers, power costs, and the depreciation of hardware over time. Today, Zespri still sits on Azure and continues to work with Total Utilities to ensure that it is always in the best position to achieve its goals as one of New Zealand’s biggest organisations. Now, Total Utilities wants to help your organisation be as profitable and streamlined as it can possibly be - get in touch today to find out how.

New Branding and New Services

Intelligence without ambition is a bird without wings. Drawing is the honesty of the art. Salvador Dali Today Total Utilities announces its new branding. Over the last 18 years we have worked hard to assist companies in controlling consumption and cost. It's an exciting day for us and we are proud to share this with you. From today you'll see a change in the way we look, including our new ribbon logo. The spherical shape represents the whole as we take a 360 degree approach to understanding our clients and their utility requirements, whether it be Energy, Waste and ICT or Insights, Strategy and Solutions. What doesn't change is our desire to create a sustainable future for New Zealand businesses and how they manage their utilities by continuing to deliver ongoing value for our clients. We continue to work hard to provide new services to assist our clients such as Energy Monitoring and Targeting through wireless non-intrusive energy senors, Cloud Computing Analytics for consumption of computer services and qualitative and quantitative reporting aligned to overall financial strategy. Total Utiltities About Us Presentation We remain committed to delivering a personalised service and assisting our clients navigate a rapidly evolving commercial market place by underpinning strategic thinking. I would like to thank our existing clients for your continued loyalty and confidence in our company. To prospective clients, I hope that you will partner with us to discover real world solutions for sustainable utility consumption and cost optimisation.

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