How Not To Do Emissions Trading

windmillsI was reading a paper about emissions trading in Thailand recently, and noted that the preferred option for an Emissions Trading Scheme is based on equivalent tonnage of oil energy output rather than equivalent emission of Green House Gasses. In all honesty, this decision has some benefits and some flaws in my mind.

The problem as I see it is that this moves the Emissions Trading Scheme from a system that looks at the Green House Gas emissions to one that looks at fuel security. This can be an issue because it permits fuels, processes or technologies that are high emitters of CO2 to operate to the detriment of those that are lower emitters. It places a price on the inherent energy within the fuel rather than the damage that fuel will do to the environment.

To be fair, from a shorter term national perspective, this is probably not a bad thing, and actually promotes fuel security. It promotes technologies that are thermally efficient rather than those that simply have lower CO2 emissions for the equivalent energy output. An example of this is the comparison between Coal and Natural Gas for electricity generation. In that case, coal is more efficient on an energy input for energy output basis, but generates more CO2 emissions than a Gas Turbine.

What is worse, basing trading on energy content has holes. Methane emissions are 20-30 times worse than CO2, meaning that any methane in exhaust should be removed if at all possible, converting it into CO2. This can be as simple as ensuring proper combustion. But there are some legitimate reasons for not having proper combustion within an engine, leading to increased methane emissions, which could then be removed through secondary processes. However, with an Emissions Trading Scheme that is based on energy, and not Equivalent CO2, there is no incentive to implement any secondary processes.

If I were to design a system myself, I would design one where some of the price was based on included energy and some of the price was based on emissions. With the two, you would get a decent system

Competing at HACKAGONG

Redshift Wireless have decided to enter into the HACKAGONG hackagong-websiteweekend product development competition in Wollongong on November 29-30. The idea is that you go into the event with basically nothing on the Saturday morning and come out with a working demonstrable product on late Sunday afternoon. Planning and some pre-work is permitted, but it is preferred that as much work as possible is done on site.

Since Redshift Wireless will be developing a hardware/software Internet Of Things product, we will have done some detailed planning as to what hardware we will be using, and what tools and components are needed – after all, the idea is to work on the project, not spend the weekend visiting the local hardware and electronic stores on the hour.

The project we will be working on will be based on one of the products that we are wanting to release in the future once we have some experience with the Climate Control product line

Google Nest For The Rest Of Us

electric light bulb and a plant inside itThere is a product from Google called the Nest Controller. This might be a great product, but it has a number of issues. These issues means that it is ideal for Google, but it also allows companies like Redshift Wireless to stand alone with their own product.

You see, the Google Nest is a smart controller for Air Conditioners and Heaters with a wired control system. These are generally ones that are used for climate control in large spaces, using a 4/5 wire interface. These allow the compressor and the controller inside to be made by different companies, and put all the intelligence in the controller. If your Air Conditioner does not have a 4/5 wire connection then you are out of luck. If it has an intelligent electronic interface between the two then things are not going to work. If you have a split system then things are not going to work either.

What sets Redshift Wireless apart is that our technology interfaces via the IR remote control port, which most split systems and many ducted units have. This makes our solution much more appropriate for the Australian and Asian regions

Open Fires Banned In Auckland, New Zealand

There is an interesting article in this weeks New Zealand Herald talking about how inefficient open fires are going to be banned in Auckland. As someone involved with helping people save money and clean up the environment, I think this is an excellent idea. There are three major issues with these types of fires:

  • CO2 Output
  • Inefficient use of fuel
  • Particulate emissions

Whilst burning wood is renewable, it does have a CO2 output, and that is measurable. But the fire places are quite inefficient with energy use, meaning that the CO2 output is quite high. This also leads to more fuel being used due to heat being wasted. Particulate emissions are also high, and this is what causes most health problems associated with fireplaces.

All in all I feel this is a move in the correct direction…

Off Topic Thursday – The Amp Hour

bg-tah2Over the past few weeks I have been listening to a rather interesting Podcast on the Electronics industry, called The Amp Hour – Keeping Current. It is put together by Dave Jones from the EEVblog here in Sydney Australia, and Chris Gammell in Cleveland Ohio USA. They discuss the world of electronics design in an hour long(ish) weekly show, recorded “live” without editing or a mute button! They are also joined every other week by guests throughout the electronics industry.

It is the worlds largest and most respected electronics oriented radio show. Discussions range from hobbyist electronics to the state of the electronics industry, components, circuit design, and general on and off-topic rants.

I have started subscribing to the podcast on my iPhone, and listening to it whilst driving. One recent episode was Eric Ries on the Lean Start Up. Whilst I have not listened to it yet, it is on my To Do List!

Price Manipulation in the Australian Electricity Market

house heating boilerThe Sydney Morning Herald has an article about manipulation of prices within the electricity industry. The exact details are rather hard to understand, but from what I can determine, data was manipulated to justify the maximum possible price rises to regulators. In essence, if I am getting this correct, the companies are gaming the independent regulators.

This is of course something that should not be happening, but was something that has basically been predicted by 2014 Nobel Prize winning economist Jean Tirole, who noted that markets often know more about what is going on than regulators. What was most interesting is that he was awarded the Nobel Prize within 48 hours of this article being released. Coincidence? I think not.

 

A Suspect Solar Portal

I have been working with one of my clients on Solar Power, and as part of this looked at their Solar Portal in order to verify the data. This data came from an Aurora Solar Inverter, which has been purchased by ABB, hence their name on the image.

solar

With a few minor redactions to remove the name of my client, this is exactly as presented to the user. In fact they have this being displayed in their office for visitors to see. The first thing to notice is that the measurements for temperatures and weights are all in imperial measurements, with Fahrenheit and Pounds. There is no way to change this. Pressure is not even in inches, but in feet. Hectopascals would be more appropriate here. Visibility should be in terms of kilometers and wind speed should be in KM/H. At least they got humidity and direction correct.

Looking at the figures, apparently the solar has generated 97.4 MWh in the lifetime, and saved 398,583.90 lb of CO2, 162.50 lb of NOx and 38.00 lb of SO2. This translates to 180795 Kg, 73.71 Kg and 17.2365 Kg respectively. Since the figures are split between CO2, NOx and SO2, I will combine them. NOx has a multiplier of 265, meaning one kG of NOx is equivalent to 265 kG of CO2 [REF]. I could not find a figure for SOx, so I am assuming that it is combined with water causing other environmental issues before getting into the atmosphere. The NOx figure becomes about 19,533 kG

Doing the math, dividing the CO2 by the Energy (180,795 kG / 97,400 kWh) we get a figure of 1.856 kG CO2-e / kWh. Adding in the NOx figure this becomes 2.056 kG CO2-e / kWh.

The issue with this is that this figure is incorrect. Looking at the National Greenhouse Accounts Factors (Link), the figures for NSW are about 1.06 kG CO2-e / kWh, or about half of the stated figure. Even using the Victorian figures of about 1.35 kG CO2-e / kWh, things are still quite incorrect.

Looking at the other figures, the page assumes that the TV is consuming about 150W – Amazingly this is about correct. The figure for the PC’s may not be so correct. This assumes that a PC consumes 130 kWh of energy per year. This depends on the PC, but in an office environment the savings in terms of number of PC’s are significantly overrated.

As for the Carbon Offset in metric tons, this is simply a conversion of the CO2 in pounds into metric.

From the same portal comes the following screen dumps:

Screen Shot 2014-10-20 at 1.57.52 pm

Screen Shot 2014-10-20 at 1.58.12 pmNotice how energy starting to be produced just before 5AM. Well, this is a problem, since according to the almanac, first light is not until 5:46AM, and sunrise is not until 6:13am! Therefore, according to the portal, the solar system is generating in the pitch black for about an hour, and then generating energy pre-dawn for another 30 minutes. We do not have the data yet, bit it is a fair assumption that the timezone data is incorrect. Given that the timezone is entered as a zone, I suspect that their timezone database is actually wrong.

 

Is Your Business Hot And Cold?

It has been said that many Air Conditioners and Heaters hremoteave two settings – Too Hot and Too Cold. For some reason it seems impossible to please everyone in business with the right temperature. There seem to be three reasons for this

  • Some people prefer slightly different temperatures, and get used to a particular temperature. A person who has a house that is warmed to 25C in winter will find an office at 22C cold
  • People tend to warm up following physical exertion, and will tend to want cooler temperatures to compensate
  • Some offices have cool spots and hot spots, due to poor airflow, poor insulation or drafts

The unfortunate thing is that people often feel cold in their extremities, such as their feet, and under a desk is one of the locations that is likely to have the worst air flow.

I was in a small office recently where not only was there a Split System Air Conditioner for heating, but the three or four staff members also had heaters under their desks. It could be argued that this was entirely reasonable since the office had door to the outside for deliveries, but the fact is that this is not a good use of energy. A Split System Air Conditioner is about 2.5 to 3 times more efficient at heating than a bar radiator or fan heater. Think about that for a moment – a Fan Heater that costs $0.25 per hour to run could be replaced by a Split System Air Conditioner that provides the same heating for about $0.10.

Of course, the Split Systems can also be managed to reduce your energy consumption. Redshift Wireless has an innovative solution that can manage almost any Air Conditioner with a remote control

 

 

Off Topic Thursday – Cool Photo

This is a photo I took during the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia. It shows the video link from a helicopter camera hovering over the Olympic Stadium. If you look at the TV screen you can actually see the lines marking the side of the stadium. The photo was taken on the night of the Closing Ceremony, on top of Auburn Hospital. The dish was being used to receive analog TV signals, and feed them back to the International Broadcast Centre.

During the Sydney Olympics, there were six of these dishes at Auburn Hospital, and another six on the top of the University of New South Wales to provide the required coverage.
dcp00498

Getting into Hot Water in Auckland

Rheem-Electric-Optima-250L-411250In the last couple of weeks, there have been problems in Auckland, New Zealand thanks to a substation fire. It was bad enough for power to thousands of households to have been turned off for multiple days. The good news is that there have not been any reports of people killed due to the fire.

The interesting thing is the story that appeared last week in the New Zealand papers about how people were complaining that they did not have hot water for a few days, despite having power. According to the story, something like 85,000 locals were not getting hot water, since they had signed up for cheaper electricity for hot water, on the agreement that energy would be controlled by the energy company. This is commonly called Off Peak

The thing with this type of scheme is that it is a win both for the users and the power company, normally. The consumers get cheaper power, and the power company gets to sell electricity at a time that suits it. In the case of the New Zealand incident, supplies were rather constrained, and the power company made a decision. They figured that it was better to supply electricity to other consumers who were blacked out, rather than supplying electricity to consumers who had power to heat water.

Given the choice of a cold shower and no electricity at all, I would prefer the cold shower.

The article is an interesting read. We at Redshift Wireless are also working on products to help utilities and consumers manage their Hot Water loads, saving everyone money and saving the planet at the same time.

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