Geoff Bennett - Editor

Welcome to another two weekly review of energy and environmental events and developments from both here in New Zealand and around the world. As always, we hope you find our collection of stories to be of interest in what continues to be a rapidly evolving area.

So, another United Nation’s annual climate change conference has come and gone. This conference, which was the 18th, was held in Doha, Qatar – an interesting place in itself to hold a conference – a country that in 2010 had the world’s highest GDP per capita, mostly attributable to the extraction and export of oil and LNG – and a significant source of greenhouse gases. As per usual, some called the conference a success and some a failure. If failure was gauged by New Zealand being awarded the Colossal Fossil award by the Civil Society – then, it most certainly was a major fail. Their comments when making the award were as follows:

For a country whose emissions are similar in scale to the Canadian tar sands, New Zealand has demonstrated exceptional blindness to scientific and political realities. Surprising many and disappointing all, New Zealand has fought hard to unseat 5-time Colossal Fossil winner, Canada, in a campaign of extreme selfishness and irresponsibility.

While New Zealand may have helped drown the talks for another year, New Zealand's small and vulnerable Pacific neighbours should take heart that they have not been forgotten - New Zealand intends to drown them too."

As a kiwi, it made me cringe inside when I read the above.… And the Conference? Well they agreed to extend the Kyoto Protocol through to 2020, except this time without Canada, Japan, Russia and New Zealand as signatories. Or for that matter China and the US.

Despite growing evidence that our climate is indeed warming, climate sceptics remain a constant. At least they serve to keep Climate Scientists on their toes and sometimes too, their comments can backfire, as is the case with Alec Rawls who misinterpreted the draft Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report and leaked its findings. Not only was this a betrayal of confidence (the report was supposed to remain confidential until it was finalised), Alec Rawls put his own climate sceptic spin on its content and in the process got it completely wrong. We include two articles on this, that whilst pretty technical, concur that anthropogenic or human activity is causing the climate to warm and not as Alec would want us believe, the sun.

As this is our final SnippETS for 2012, we thought we would concentrate on basics, which for us is energy management. We have decided to provide an overview of methodology and programmes, moving onto software systems and wrapping up with examples of energy initiatives and innovation used to deliver savings and benefits.

The first of these articles examines seven steps leading to an effective energy management scheme, followed by ten ways that energy costs can be reduced in an organisation. Interestingly enough, this last article is written by Steve Heinz from EnergyCAP, a company which offers similar services to e-Bench™. The two of us should now be wondering when a VC is going to knock on the door offering to invest in our businesses, if the article on VCs seeing gold in energy management software is correct.

Staying with software management systems our next article examines the differences between an Energy Management System (EnMS) and Energy Management Information System (EMIS) and how an EMIS is actually a component of an EnMS.

And using software can assist with the continuous energy optimisation of buildings as our next article examines. The four step process outlined here is a mix of technology, software and management culture intended to improve building energy consumption during its entire lifecycle.

Moving on to examples of innovative technology that offer smarter ways of either reducing energy consumption or producing energy, we start with data centre cooling technology that takes the excess heat directly from the processor rather than allowing it to pass into the server room. In other words stopping the heat from being released into the room and instead taking it outside the room where free cooling can be utilised.

Next up, we look at the new General Electric natural gas combined cycle electricity generation power plant with efficiencies of up to 61 percent. Not only is the plant highly efficient, it can also reduce its power output quickly, meaning it is well suited for integration with renewable generation such as wind and photovoltaics where their output can fluctuate.

We also examine how using train-induced rail track vibrations can be used to generate electricity to power signal lights, structural monitoring systems and even track switches, many of which are located in remote locations often far from other sources of electrical supply.

Other examples of innovation include buildings using exterior mounted panels to provide additional insulation as well as act as grey water filters and a growth bed for algae. This simple but effective system provides a better performing external fabric, cleaner water and a fuel source (algae) which can be converted into oil.

Our final energy article examines how genetically modified trees are now being grown specifically for energy generation. The GM eucalyptus have been engineered to grow 40% faster than their equivalent non GM tree with their intended use as a source for paper, wood pellets or as fuel for cars.

We would like to use this opportunity to wish you all a wonderful Christmas and New Year break from the ETSL team and take the opportunity to offer a friendly reminder to “switch off” office equipment, adjust the BMS settings/ time clocks in your facilities and to flick off those switches at home, if you are leaving town. That and have a great break and come back in 2013 with a great smile on your dial.

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