Launch of London Cleantech Cluster

I attended the launch event for London Cleantech cluster in the City of London last night, here are a few observations.

The existing ‘cleantech’ industry, however you define it, in London, is very large. So in that sense the cluster already exists.

There is probably value to be gained from collaboration. Bill Clinton regularly says that “Collaboration, Sustainability and Innovation Are Key to America’s Economic Recovery”. Having people talking to each other is not exactly collaboration but is certainly a first step.

Putting a structure around the cluster – in the form of an association, or meetings, is similar to how a restaurant manager can convert a room full of tables, people and food, into – well – a restaurant. Nobody knows how he does it – that is the secret of the restaurant manager – but everybody can tell the difference between a place with an exciting atmosphere and one with just people sitting around tables. It invigorates it.

There’s still a big open question about how to get people to buy cleantech technology – a tougher question on how to develop cleantech technology which people want to buy. There are many different answers to that question but no obvious one. That is why the business sector is exciting.

Why data on carbon is sexy

Measuring carbon is sexy because: there’s nothing else – and only measuring can get us where we need to go.

There have been massive developments in technology to reduce carbon emissions – but the problem is that nobody has a good idea how much any of them can work.

People in general are very poor at understanding scale anyway – recognising that a 100m wind turbine can make 10,000 x as much power as a 1m wind turbine. A 1m wind turbine is still large enough to upset your neighbours, and the power it will generate compared to a 100m turbine is nearly useless.

The only way this can be clear is by measuring and knowing and understanding how it can all work.

What technologies are there which can help get us there?

Telehouse gets “Carbon Trust Standard” accreditation

Data centre provider Telehouse has received “Carbon Trust Standard” accreditation for its data centres in France – Telehouse Paris Voltaire, Telehouse Paris Jeûneurs and Telehouse Magny-Les-Hameaux.

The company also has accreditation for its 4 London data centres.

Data centres account for 1.5 per cent of the world’s energy consumption according to Pike Research, expected to double to 3 per cent by 2020.

The Carbon Trust Standard is a program to help data centres achieve higher levels of energy efficiency.

The CTS is a rigorous, independent assessment which certifies that an organisation has measured, managed and reduced their carbon emissions across its own operations, and are committed to reducing it year-on-year.

2 of Telehouse’s London sites received their CTS certification after improving carbon efficiency by 12 per cent relative to turnover.

Why data carbon?

In order to reduce carbon emissions, we have to manage them better, that is not an original statement

It is more or less impossible to reduce carbon emissions any other way – we can try to persuade people to drive less but it looks unlikely to work.

Managing carbon emissions is already very advanced – but it needs to be more advanced in order to succeed – and we’ll need plenty of IT tools in order to do it.

Data needs to be gathered, moved, analysed, processed, communicated – and then we need to get better at communicating it – not just giving people information, but making the information part of their lives – like the way Fiat did with their Eco:drive.

A bit like losing weight. The first and most difficult step to losing weight is deciding that you want to lose weight. Then starting to think about it every time you eat – how much are you going to eat and when. Then measuring and seeing very little progress. Then realising how far you need to change your daily habits in order to lose weight. And finally, seeing slow progess. Perhaps we need to do it like that.

All of the technology developments are very industry specific – different approaches in different places. Perhaps there is some best practise which can be shared from one to another.



Oracle US survey – can you cope with smart grid data?

Oracle has conducted a survey of 151 senior level executives at US utilities (electricity providers) with smart meter programs to ask how well prepared they are to cope with the data from ‘smart grids’.

Data gathered by existing smart grid deployments is increasing exponentially, Oracle said, with electricity companies typically reading meters 180 times more frequently than they were before, and accessing more different types of data.

The survey results showed that utility companies with “smart meter” perograms in place rated themselves 6.7 on a scale of 1 to 10 in terms of how prepared they thought they were to handle a ‘data deluge’.

However, 45 percent of responding utilities said they still struggle to report information to business managers as fast as they need it.

50 percent report that they miss opportunities to deliver useful information to customers.

Smart meters deliver an unprecedented stream of critical business information, such as outage (78 percent), voltage (73 percent), tampering (63 percent) and diagnostic (56 percent) data, which can help improve operations and customer satisfaction.

Utilities said they see a need to improve their ability to translate information into actionable intelligence and leverage data for strategic decision-making. Sixty-four percent say it is one of their top three priorities.

Meter Data Management (MDM) systems may provide help with 70 percent of those utilities with an MDM system in place saying they are prepared to successfully manage the data influx versus just 51percent of those without.

In the next five years, utilities plan to leverage smart grid data to improve customer service through efforts such as delivering demand response programs, forecasting demands, complying with regulatory requirements and minimizing outages.

“Smart grid deployments are creating exponentially more data for utilities and giving them access to information they have never had before,” said said Rodger Smith, senior vice president and general manager, Oracle Utilities.

Oracle’s ‘Big Data, Bigger Opportunities’ report indicates that a vast majority of utility executives are working to enhance their ability to glean real intelligence from smart grid data – to ultimately create new opportunities to improve service reliability and deliver useful information to customers.

Download the report


Lord O’Neill appointed chairman of UK’s Smart Grid industry group

Lord O’Neill, a former chair of the UK trade and industry select committee and the UK Nuclear Industries Authority, has been appointed chairman of “SmartGrid GB”, a UK industry group to promote smart grid deployment.

Smart Grid is a system to bring more “intelligence” and efficiency to electricity generation, distribution and consumption.

“Over the next few decades every country around the world is going to have to switch to smart grid,” Lord O’Neill said. “This is a massive growth opportunity for our country. We have the skills, capabilities and technologies to become world leaders.”

“But the competition is moving fast and unless we get moving we’ll miss out on growth and jobs.”

“We now know that smart grid development could deliver £13bn of GVA (gross value added) to the economy whilst also supporting the growth of industries like electric vehicles and supporting an export economy worth £5 billion.”

“Lord O’Neill’s appointment as Chairman of Smart Grid GB is welcome news and I’m looking forward to working with him,” said Charles Hendry MP, Minister of State for Energy and Climate Change.

“In its first year, Smart Grid GB has been at the forefront in driving the smart grid agenda in Britain and Lord O’Neill can play an important role in maintaining that momentum.”

Earlier this year SmartGrid GB published a report called “Smart Grid: A race worth winning”, which identified major economic benefits for Britain if it becomes a global leader in smart grid development. The report found that deploying smart grid infrastructure was £19 billion cheaper than‘business as usual’, and there has been major growth in smart grid enabled industries such as electric vehicles.

Using data technology to better manage carbon

In order for us to make best use of our existing hydrocarbons, and manage the emissions, takes a lot of measuring. We need to understand what data we are gathering and how we are calculating it.

This website will cover all the new technology – and applications of the technology to get that done.


There is an environmental philosophy underlying this – that we can’t do much more by simply shouting at people for releasing too much carbon inefficiently – we need to measure it – and once we can measure it, then we can bring in a various measures (regulatory, tax, encouragement, social schemes) to do it. Other people can have the discussions about the regulation, tax, and gather the data itself – we’re here to talk about the technology.