Workplace change acceleration demands more learning

Within 21 years, the average worker will be learning for an extra three hours a week, according to a recent study of Australian workplaces, undertaken by Alphabeta and commissioned by Google.

The advance of machine learning and robotics is creating the need for more lifelong learning, and the need to adapt faster. Adult education will become far more important. Short courses, whether face to face or on-line, will continue to grow in popularity.

The need to learn more at work isn’t just about to happen, its already happening now. Between 2006 and 2016 the tasks undertaken by architects changed by more than 42%.

How is your job changing, and what skills do you need to develop?

New Interval in Clean Energy Training

Most businesses and governments are missing out on the opportunity to use interval data to identify opportunities to reduce their energy use, at little or no cost, by between 5% to 10%. And importantly to also cut their carbon emissions from the use of energy. As a result a typical office firm, with say 100 staff, is each year unnecessarily spending around $4,000 and generating about 25 more tonnes of greenhouse gas – equivalent to the emissions of 6 cars.

So how can this wastage, which is often easy to avoid, be identified? The easiest way to do this is to analyze the site’s interval data.

Interval data is electricity, and occasionally gas, consumption data at closely spaced intervals, typically at 15, 30 or 60 minute intervals, showing the amount of energy consumed in each interval. And it’s absolute gold when it comes to identifying where there may be easy opportunities to reduce energy consumption, as shown in the video below.

Provides 3 examples of how useful graphed interval data can be in identifying energy savings opportunities for government and business

Which is why I’m very pleased to announce the online training course Introduction to Interval Data Analysis.

This course shows you where you can get interval data from, how to manipulate it into a useful format, how to match it to how your site is actually used, and how to identify and quantify energy savings opportunities, just like the ones you saw in the earlier examples. It builds on my experience in analyzing interval data for hundreds of buildings. I actually wish that had this training available back when I started, because it would have saved countless hours of trying to figure it how to work with awkward data files.

some interval data files are very hard to work with

The training covers the four main types of formats in which interval data is usually provided. Its focus is not on teaching you about interval data, but giving you the three key skills to do something with interval data. It is set out in such a way that only once you’ve mastered the first skill can you move onto the second skill, similarly only once you’ve mastered the second skill can you move onto the third skill, and then you are also tested on your knowledge of the third skill to ensure that you’ve really got it.

This course isn’t just a webinar and quick demonstration, rather it systematically shows you what to do, and makes sure you know how to do it. And once you have completed the course and have the spreadsheet skills to work with interval data, you’ll have none of the constraints of a third party spreadsheet or online portal when it comes to analyzing your data.

The recommended retail price of this course is $97. But, for a limited time, as long as there are discount codes available, you can do this course for just $10. Use the code CEARocks when you checkout to get the course with 90% off, but make sure you sign up to Introduction to Interval Data Analysis soon before the discount codes run out.

interval meter

Electricity consumption’s going south. What a production opportunity!

The state of Victoria, in the south east of Australia, is similar to many western nations in that the use of electricity from centralized electricity generators on the grid is on the wane, as illustrated in the graph below. Electricity consumption is down 17% compared with 2008 levels, and peak demand also seems to be on a downward trend. This is due to energy efficiency, rooftop solar, and a decline in manufacturing.

Victoria electricity consumption and demand 2004 to 2017

Yet the future is bright for this commodity whose consumption has been going south. And the really big opportunity may well be down south.

Electric cars will increased the demand for electricity

Whilst they aren’t here yet in a big way, electric cars are coming (as those in the Tesla Model 3 queue keep telling you), with most of the the major automakers now firmly committed to electrification. Consuming somewhere between 15 to 20 kWh of electricity per 100kms, an electric car traveling 12,000 kms a year will require around 7 kWh of electricity per day to charge it. In Victoria that represents around one third of a typical household’s electricity usage. Whilst energy efficiency and rooftop solar will continue to make inroads, as electric cars roll out and home chargers are installed, its hard to see grid electricity use continuing to decline at the rate it has, whether in Australia or in Austria.

In temperature and cool climates, the switch from natural gas, coal and oil to renewable electricity for heating will massively increase electricity demand

Another big transformation, as the response to climate change firms, will be the move away from natural gas and fossil fuels used for heating, to clean renewable sources of energy. In Victoria, which has a temperature climate with its capital Melbourne at a latitude of 38 degrees South, as shown in the graph below, nearly 90% of stationary energy use now comes from gas. Gas consumption is also much higher in winter than it is in summer.

Victoria's approximate stationary energy consumption, by month

The seasonal gas consumption trend is almost the mirror image of the solar trend, where production peaks in summer.

Accounting for the fact that electricity can be used to pump heat with high efficiency, if all stationary energy consumption moved to electricity, we would need around twice as much electricity as we now need in Victoria, with a consumption profile like that shown below. Add in electric cars and the demand for electricity could be approaching three times current levels. Distributed energy behind the meter will account for some of the extra supply, as will energy efficiency, but most of the extra supply will likely come from grid connected sources.

Victorias approximate stationary energy consumption by month, if all from electricity.

Most of the demand for electricity will be from May through to October. Countries in temperate and cool climates in the northern hemisphere will have the opposite stationary energy demand profiles – high energy demand in January, lower in July.

Not an easy transition

The switch to electric cars will be disruptive, the switch away from gas to renewable electricity just as challenging if not more so. Fuel switching (gas to electricity) is capital intensive, and presently is only economic to do so when assets are at the end of their life and need replacing anyway. Homes with gas hot water also have gas stoves and gas space heating. Three different assets that won’t all need replacing in the same year, and thus making the economics of fuel switching challenging to the home owner. But as the world continues to ramp up efforts to fight climate change, more and more attention, and more innovation, will be deployed to aid the transition away from natural gas and other fossil fuels.

How can we tap into renewable energy reliably year round?

Getting all this energy from renewable sources year round, given the intermittent nature of solar and wind, will not be easy. Solar is now the cheapest form of renewable energy, and its price seems to be on an inexorable and perpetual decline. But solar production peaks in summer.

There is a lot of focus now on battery storage, but while the popular lithium chemistry being deployed to provide storage is good for storage lasting from minutes to days, it’s not suited for saving energy generated in summer for use in winter, and certainly not economic to do so. Demand response, now a buzz word, can’t shift demand across seasons.

Countries could look to develop large pumped hydro storage systems, or install huge banks of flow batteries, or build massive hydrogen tanks, to store energy in summer and use it in winter. However the cost of this would be enormous.

But with solar getting cheaper and cheaper, perhaps there is another way.

The opportunity for the south / the responsibility of the south

Energy consumption in the northern hemisphere is much higher than in the southern hemisphere. There is an opportunity for those in the temperate south, in Australia, Africa and South America, to size their renewable energy supplies for their winters, thus not having to bother with inter-seasonal energy storage, and export their excess summer energy to the north, for use in the north’s winter.

Energy exporters like Australia, used to exporting coal and now natural gas, can build on existing expertise. But instead of shipping off sources of carbon pollution, they could be shipping clean energy. This could be in the elegant form of electrons traveling across massive transmission lines (but which could have sovereign risks associated with the transmission cables as they cross many borders), or batch shipped on boats as hydrogen.

Temperate countries in the south are uniquely positioned to do those. The global energy imbalance is to the north. Solar has taken over from wind as the cheapest form of renewable energy. Rather than having every country or region in the world oversize their renewable energy systems by designing for winter, or building massive inter-seasonal storage infrastructure to save summer energy production for winter use, it would be much more financially and resource efficient to have the south transfer its summer solar energy to the north’s winter. The total kW of globally deployed renewable energy and the amount of energy storage required is much, much lower if we look to seasonal south to north renewable energy transfers, and can be built on the cheapest form of renewable energy – solar.

Politicians, entrepreneurs, engineers, investors, international negotiators, marketers. The opportunity, the responsibility, is in the south.

This post originally appeared at http://8020green.com/the-bright-future-of-a-commodity-going-south/

Clean Energy Doing Better Than Expected – But Don’t Relax

decarbonizing involves moving away from internal combustion engines

If you have ever thought that your contribution in energy efficiency or renewables to the switch away from fossil fuels hasn’t made much of a difference, three graphs I’ve seen recently would show otherwise.

Energy Efficiency

Energy efficiency, the “quiet achiever” in the clean energy space, has kept energy consumption down, well below expectations, over the last 4 decades.  The graph below shows how forecasts made in the late 1970s and in 2005, of energy consumption in the USA, have estimated forward energy use to be much higher than it has actually been.

energy efficiency has kept energy consumption below forecasts
From Green Tech Media

This pattern would be similar across many countries. A key contributor to keeping energy use down and capping carbon emissions has been “systemic” energy efficiency driven by energy efficiency standards. Such as building codes, vehicle mileage standards, equipment and appliance standards. Almost everything that uses energy has gradually improved to produce more while using less energy. The domestic refrigerator being the classic example.

Appliance energy efficiency standards save energy
Appliance energy efficiency standards save energy

Renewable Energy

Renewables, particularly wind and solar, have greatly exceeded expectations in terms of price and performance, and thus capacity installed. The best example being solar PV, just look at the chart from the tweet below! The renewables sector is exciting and dynamic, and will continue to be so as it contributes more and more to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

(As seen at Green Car Reports)

Oil

Looking forward the oil industry is expecting oil consumption to continue to grow. But the graph below projects otherwise, showing how energy efficiency, electric vehicles and fuel switching might be expected to reduce oil demand. Click on the image to see the Bloomberg article with full graph and its axis.

Projected oil consumption to 2040
Oil projections through to 2040. From Bloomberg. Click to view detail.

Clean Energy Doing Better than Expected

These three graphs show that the contribution of those working in energy efficiency and renewable energy both in the past, and looking forward, has been under-estimated. Clean energy has been doing better than expected. The contribution of the hundreds of thousands of clean energy professionals around the world is making a difference!

But Don’t Relax!

Take a closer look at that graph on oil demand and you’ll notice that the y axis starts well above zero. It projects oil use in 2040 still being 73 millions of barrels – per day! Around about the same as in 2000, and less than 25% below the expected peak in 2020.

Similarly the first graph, on energy efficiency, has a misleading y-axis. And the administration in the US is now attacking energy efficiency at a systemic level, by seeking to roll back energy efficiency standards. Other countries have long followed the US, particularly around equipment and appliance energy efficiency standards. They now need to forge their own path.

There seems to be widespread agreement that by 2050 it is feasible and practical to reduce global carbon emissions to net zero. But project forward the oil chart and it can be seen that, despite recent achievements, we are off target.

Clean energy has saved more emissions than expected, but achieving zero net emissions remains a huge challenge.

decarbonizing involves moving away from internal combustion engines
One of the challenges will be moving away from internal combustion engines

From the perspective of energy supply and demand some of the key challenges going forward are:

  • Managing the intermittent supply of wind and solar PV.
  • Moving internal combustion engines off the road.
  • Hydrocarbon free air travel, which requires a very high power to weight ratio.
  • Moving away from the combustion of gas (natural gas, propane) used widely in industry and to heat buildings.
  • Managing “clunkers” that have long lifetimes, such as inefficient buildings.
  • Lack of policy consistency and strength, driven by climate skepticism. Its appalling that this still exists, after most countries ratified the UNFCCC over 20 years ago back in 1996.

old buildings and old equipment is energy inefficient. Replacement or upgrades are expensive, posing a challenge to decarbonization
Example of a clunker – a 40 to 50 year old boiler still in use

These are BIG challenges. Requiring Leadership. Innovation. Persistence. Engineering. Science. Skills. Finance. Determination.

Clean Energy Career Opportunities Created by Autonomous Vehicles

There are lots of Clean Energy career opportunities available now, but how will this be impacted by self driving cars? Which may be arriving sooner than expected.

San Francisco thinktank RethinkX says that autonomous vehicles will dominate the roads by 2030, far faster than others are projecting, and will represent “95% of all miles traveled”.

self driving cars to drive clean energy career

If this happens there will be big job losses in a number of sectors. Such as jobs for drivers, car maintenance, etc. But in the clean energy sector wide scale uptake of self-driving vehicles could actually be a job creator. Here’s a list of 5 types of clean energy careers that will benefit.

1. If you are a software or hardware engineer you could consider getting employed in the design of autonomous vehicles, particularly in aspects of autonomous vehicles that deliver energy saving. Such as designing for platooning (where vehicles drive very close to each other at high speed to reduce aerodynamic losses), trip and vehicle scheduling or self-driving vehicle traffic management.

software engineer clean energy career

2. The transition to autonomous vehicles will be accompanied by a transition to electric vehicles. This will drive increased energy use – a typical electric car now uses around 20 kWh per 100km, and if all cars become electric could be expected to increase electricity consumption by up to around 30%. This will continue to create opportunities in the construction of clean power generation, such as solar and wind. As the transition to renewable energy now looks inevitable, the build out to get to the point of 100% clean energy will be larger because of autonomous/electric cars.

wind power career

3. There will be strong demand for network management and demand response products and services, so as to integrate electric vehicle charging with intermittent renewable energy supply and storage. Maybe even to make electric vehicle storage available to the grid too.

energy storage

4. Energy efficiency can’t be forgotten here, so as to reduce the amount of additional generation and energy storage needed. Whether this is in designing products to be more efficient. Or making existing buildings or factories more efficient. Or in making new buildings that use less energy.

energy efficiency career

5. Enabling a transition to the efficiencies provided by autonomous electric vehicles will require expertise in crafting new laws. To enable a period, perhaps a long period, where autonomous vehicles will share the road with human driven vehicles. To address privacy concerns.

law clean energy career

What are the other clean energy career opportunities you can think of?

Win Next Clean Energy Job With Your LinkedIn Profile

Whether you are looking for a new position in solar, wind power, energy efficiency or similar, or are seeking more projects in your current role, having a good LinkedIn profile can help unlock the door so you can start a conversation with your prospective employer or client to get that clean energy job.

clean energy job recruiter

Here are four things your LinkedIn profile needs for your next clean energy job:

  1. Back up any claims with details
  2. Use the same phrases that recruiters typically use when advertising the clean energy job you are looking for
  3. Have others sing your praises by requesting recommendations
  4. Show that you are up to date by providing evidence of recent learning or qualifications

Back up any claim with details

Phrases such as “extensive leadership experience,” “highly experienced solar PV installer”, “EPC master” mean little unless you can back it up with details. For example, saying you have “installed over 500 residential and over 50 commercial rooftop PV systems as the lead installer” has a lot more credibility that simply saying you are a highly experienced solar PV installer. And photos or videos of you doing your work can also add extra credibility. For example, the photo below shows that this installer does a neat job, and takes workplace safety seriously, evidenced by the harness.

solar installer is a great clean energy job

Use the same phrases that recruiters typically use when advertising the clean energy job you are looking for

Lets say, for example, that you are seeking a job as a energy manager looking after a portfolio of buildings and have experience in building energy management, preferably as a portfolio energy manager. The phrase “energy manager” in your profile or details of your work experience could be a little too vague. If a recruiter is doing a search on LinkedIn the search terms used could be “portfolio energy manager” “building energy manager” “commercial building energy manager” “high rise energy manager” or similar. So try to use terms that are search friendly on LinkedIn and match quite precisely the sort of job or project you are looking for.

energy manager is an important clean energy job

Have others sing your praises by requesting recommendations

Third party recommendations back up any claims you have made about your own skills. For every one of your recent positions you should be seeking at least one, but preferably two or more third party recommendations you can feature on your LinkedIn profile. Ideally have those recommendations align with the sort of projects or clean energy job you are seeking.

CMVP trainer LinkedIn recommendation

Show that you are up to date by providing evidence of recent learning or qualifications

We all know that knowledge is growing exponentially. At the same time, its easier than ever before to learn something. If you are over 40 you can remember that back when you were at school what you could learn was largely constrained to who you knew, the books you had access to, and the classes you attended, whether face to face or by distance. Those mostly geographical and socioeconomic constraints to learning have now largely disappeared. Its both easier to learn, and easier to teach now, than ever before, with a few clicks or swipes.

learning clean energy

Yet, from personal experience in recruiting for clean energy jobs, many people once they have a job appear to not be interested in taking their learning outside their direct experience. Candidates who show an interest in learning and improving, of all ages, tend to jump out. It indicates a curiosity, a humility, a work ethic and an enthusiasm that recruiters love.

The Dumpster Home, Innovation and Green Building Careers

Homes tend to have a lot of embodied energy or embodied carbon emissions, arising from the energy used in the manufacture of the construction materials, such as bricks, and the energy used in transporting these materials and in actually assembling and building the home.  The figures will vary depending on construction techniques and location, but could typically be around 0.5 to 1 tonne of embedded carbon per square meter (around 10 square feet), representing very roughly 15 years of operational energy consumption  (1).

In general, the smaller the home, the lower the embodied energy and carbon in it. Additionally smaller homes require less energy to heat, cool and illuminate. As do work spaces that make efficient use of their space.

But making a home small, really small, down to around 20% of the size of a typical 2 storey suburban house, and comfortable is a design challenge. The Kasita home is a recent attempt to do this, and it all started in a dumpster, as shown in this CNBC video:

The design and construction of low embodied energy buildings such as the Kasita requires a range of skills, many of which are not usually associated with construction.

And as construction industry jobs are lost with automation, this could also mean changes in some construction related clean energy jobs, as shown in the Construction Robotics video below. For example, the integration of PV into roofing materials could mean that for a new home PV installers no longer install panels, all they do is the electrical connection.

For those working in Green Buildings it’s an exciting time, but also a time not to be complacent.

California and the EU are leading with their requirements for new homes to be net zero energy from 2020 (2), and then to extend the home requirements into commercial buildings in following years. This is going to require upskilling of the construction industry to deliver this, both in design, and in actual construction. In fact this upskilling has been happening gradually for some time, but it now needs to accelerate. And whilst for now zero net home energy requirements are looming for only the EU and California (combined population of 550m) in much of the rest of the world those countries with existing energy standards for buildings are likely to tighten them, whilst emerging economies without standards are increasingly likely to adopt energy performance standards for buildings. This is certainly going to grow the green building sector.

On the other hand the green building industry is coming historically from a place where it is at the high end of pricing. Most existing green commercial buildings are large and operate in the premium end of the market, with governments and large corporations occupying them. Those who have been in the green building sector for some time may find it hard to win contracts, but when they do the pay-off is good. As we move to a situation where every building – small to large – if not “green” is at least substantially “greener”, there may be more contracts, but margins are likely to continue to tighten, and expectations will be higher. The market will grow. New people will come into it, unconstrained by traditional thinking. Disruption and innovation will happen.

To thrive going forward requires those working in the green building space to delivery more for less, to tap into technological developments elsewhere and to innovate (like the Kasita house has done). Complacency is not acceptable. And if you are a disruptor and innovator and maybe looking for a new career, perhaps green buildings are for you.

Bruce Rowse

1. Its difficult to pin down the “average” embodied energy / embodied carbon in a home. 0.5 to 1 tonne/m2 could be considered an extremely rough estimate, See http://ec.europa.eu/environment/integration/research/newsalert/pdf/38si9_en.pdf and http://www.greenbuildingadvisor.com/blogs/dept/musings/all-about-embodied-energy.

2. California’s target is for all residential buildings to use zero net energy by 2020, and all commercial buildings to use zero net energy by 2030.  In the EU, 28 countries have committed to new residential buildings being “near zero energy” from 31 December 2020. The directive 2010/31/EU also requires that after 31 December 2018 new public buildings are nearly zero energy. http://www.epbd-ca.eu/themes/nearly-zero-energy

About the Clean Energy Academy

The Clean Energy Academy provides a range of courses on green buildings. See www.cleanenergyacadamy.com/green-building/

Featured course: Passive House Design. Homes designed to Passive House (Passive Haus) standards have a low demand for space heating and cooling, have low overall energy use, must be extremely air tight, and be thermally comfortable. In this Passive House Design Course you’ll learn how to design a house that meets the Passive House requirements and as a project will be designing a home that meets the Passive House space heating and primary energy requirements. This Passive House Design training consistently attracts high student ratings and may be taken at any time.

passive house design course

Hazelwood: talk about 15% and more gained not 25% lost

This week the Hazelwood Power Station, a brown coal dinosaur build in the 1960s, was turned off for the final time.

Over its lifetime the power station pumped out roughly 800 million tonnes of carbon dioxide pollution. Per kWh it had the highest emissions intensity of any power plant in Australia. Its shut down will result in Australia’s annual carbon emissions dropping by at least 1 percent over the next 12 months, and more over time as gradually coal generation is phased out of the country. And it marks a significant turning point, where finally Australia is starting to unmistakably turn its back on coal generation and the associated emissions.

Unfortunately a lot of the news on this has lead with “25%”. Story after story has started with the statement “Victoria is losing 25% of its generation capacity” and then the word “blackouts” somewhere else in the story. You may even hear a former Prime Minister warn that its shutdown is foolish and infer that it will lead to economic ruin. But you don’t hear the word 15% very often. You won’t hear that over the last 8 years electricity consumption in Victoria has dropped by 15%. You won’t hear much of the quiet story of energy efficiency and rooftop solar and energy efficient appliance and building standards, all of which have cut electricity consumption, without which another coal power station would be being built. And this in the state with the highest rate of population growth in the country!

Victoria Annual Electricity Consumption 2004 to 2016

Take on the challenge

When it comes to reducing peak demand, well as the graph below shows whilst this isn’t dropping in a steady fashion, it is being managed. And the overall trend since 2008 is down.

Victoria Annual Peak Electricity Demand 2004 to 2016

But this graph also highlights the challenge of moving to renewables, managing high demand when its cloudy and still. And its a great opportunity to optimistically focus on how we do this, to adopt a “can do” attitude, rather than to scaremonger, to look at the new economies that could be built and create jobs in the Latrobe Valley. To explore ideas for new economies in the Valley such as pumped storage and geothermal and solar hot water system manufacture.

To celebrate initiatives such as the proposed Snowy Mountains pumped storage project announced recently by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. To support innovative companies such as Green Synch, who enable load shedding to reduce peak demand, and Habitech Systems which make low and zero net energy homes. To support a culture of innovation. To learn from what Hydro Tasmania has done at King Island to aid the switch away from fossil fuels.

Lets make the story about how we have cut electricity consumption by 15% and how we can do more, much more, to further reduce consumption and better manage peak demand.