India and US to collaborate in large solar energy research project

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This story is a composite of several press releases (see links below).

India and the United States have started an initiative – a $US50 million project – to develop solar energy through photovoltaic (PV) projects and concentrated solar power (CSP), also known as solar thermal.

This comes four months after India experienced one of the world’s biggest blackouts, which affected more than 680 million people.

The project, dubbed ‘SERIIUS’ (Solar Energy Research Initiative of India and the United States), the project would be conducted by the Bangalore-based Indian Institute of Science and the Washington-based National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

“We are expecting the project to produce desirable results within five years,” Rajeev Deshpande, a senior energy official, told an energy conference here.

Unlike traditional solar panels, CSP projects concentrate a large area of sunlight onto a small area of contained liquid. The liquid heats up, emits steam, and a generator converts the steam into electricity.

This is not the first time that the US and India have collaborated on green projects.  Back in 2009 (which seems so long ago as we head into 2013!), the two countries participated in a high-level Energy Partnership.

At EarthPM, it’s our hope, as we head into the new year, that these types of collaborations increase.  Besides the obvious immediate benefit to our field (more project managers!) this is the type of good work that needs to be done to get ourselves less and less dependent on energy sources which aren’t renewable, aren’t clean, and simply no longer make sense in the long-term.

Article from The Hindu
Article from Green Technology
Article from The Deccan Chronicle

The Sky is Falling – May be time to heed the warnings

We’ve tend to stay neutral when it comes to the global climate change debate, although we have tried to arm you with the information we believed you, as project managers, need to make sure you can take advantage of any projects that may arise as a result of any mitigation strategies.  Today, we heard about a couple of disturbing reports due out over the next several months.  Their titles were pretty ominous so we decided to dig a little deeper.

Take a look at some of these headlines and reports to be released and see if you don’t agree that they are unnerving;

 

NOAA: Past Decade Warmest on Record According to Scientists in 48 Countries 

Earth has been growing warmer for more than 50 years.

And this one a report that is indicative of what is to come.

The Special Report on Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation.

The title says that those extreme events we have been experiencing, a major snow storm in the northeast in October 2011 for instance, are going to continue and we need a risk mitigation process to address them.  Further, we will need to “adapt” to these changes.

Another report coming from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC);

Special Report on Renewable Energy Sources and Climate Change Mitigation

And finally, an interview from a scientist who has not only been one of the questioners of global climate change, but also his study was partially funded by an organization made up of climate change skeptics.  Dr. Richard Muller, professor of physics from the University of California, Berkeley, and founder of the Berkley Earth Surface Temperature Foundation, undertook an independent two year study of global climate change.

It was not that he himself was a sceptic, he just didn’t believe the likes of Tom Friedman and Al Gore because Dr. Muller believes their contentions were not truly science based.  Here is part of the interview between Dr. Muller and Eleanor Hall with Bronwyn Herbert from the Australian Broadcast Network (ABC).  You can hear the entire interview here.

BRONWYN HERBERT: Richard Muller says he wasn’t convinced the earth was warming, and set out two years ago to find out if mainstream climate scientists were wrong.

RICHARD MULLER: Sceptics had raised legitimate questions. Many of the thermometers were of very poor quality and poorly placed. There were  djustments being made to discontinuities in the data. There was perhaps undue influence from warming of cities, which was warm, but that’s not global warming.

BRONWYN HERBERT: He says he was particularly surprised that his results so closely correlated with previously published data from other teams in the US and the UK.

RICHARD MULLER: Somewhat to my amazement, none of the effects changed the answer. We wound up getting the same answer that the other groups had previously gotten for the amount of warming. It’s about 0.9 degrees Celsius over the last 50 years. The poor temperature quality data, even though it was at bad locations, the change in temperature I recorded was accurate. The urban heat island, just not that much area of the earth is urban. The temperature adjustments that people made, well those adjustments were made with more care than we could know, and in the end the adjustments didn’t bias the data. We picked five times as many stations as they did. Their selection of stations was sufficiently representative that it didn’t change the answer. So, in the end, the amount of global warming is what they said it was.

BRONWYN HERBERT: So do you now believe that global warming on earth is occurring?

RICHARD MULLER: Oh yes. I certainly believe that now.

And finally, from a report Agence France-Presse (AFP) states that a draft UN report three years in the making concludes that man-made climate change has boosted the frequency or intensity of heat waves, wildfires, floods and cyclones and that such disasters are likely to increase in the future.

“The document being discussed by the world’s Nobel-winning panel of climate scientists says the severity of the impacts vary, and some regions are more vulnerable than others. Hundreds of scientists working under the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC) will vet the phonebook-sized draft at a meeting in Kampala of the 194-nation body later this month.

“This is the largest effort that has even been made to assess how extremes are changing,” said Neville Nicholls, a professor at Monash University in  Melbourne, Australia, and a coordinating lead author of one of the review’s key chapters. Mindful of an outcry by climate skeptics over flaws in an earlier IPCC text, those working on the document stress that the level of “confidence” in the findings depends on the quantity and quality of data available.

But the overall picture that emerges is one of enhanced volatility and frequency of dangerous weather, leading in turn to a sharply increased risk for large swathes of humanity in coming decades.”

“Its publication coincides with a series of natural catastrophes around the world that have boosted the need to determine whether such events are freaks of the weather or part of a long-term shift in climate. In 2010, record temperatures fuelled devastating forest fires across Siberia, while parts of Pakistan and India reeled from unprecedented flooding. This year, the United States has suffered from a record number of billion-dollar disasters ranging from flooding in the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers to Hurricane Irene to the ongoing Texas drought. Large swathes of China are suffering from intense drought as well, even as central America and Thailand count their dead from recent diluvian rains.

Most of these events match predicted impacts of manmade global warming, which has raised temperatures, increased the amount of water in the atmosphere and warmed ocean surface temperatures — all drivers of extreme weather.

– It is “virtually certain” — 99-100% sure — that the frequency and magnitude of warm daily temperature extremes will increase over the 21st century on a global scale;

– It is “very likely” (90-100% certainty) that the length, frequency and/or intensity of warm spells, including heat waves, will continue to increase over most land areas;

– Peak temperatures are “likely” (66-100% certainty) to increase — compared to the late 20th century — up to 3.0 degrees Celsius (5.4 degrees Fahrenheit) by 2050, and 5.0 C (9.0 F) by 2100;

– Heavy rain and snowfall is likely to increase over the next century over many regions, especially in the tropics and at high latitudes;

– At the same time, droughts will likely intensify in other areas, notably the Mediterranean region, central Europe, North America, northeastern Brazil and southern Africa.” © 2011 AFP

Yosemite 121 Years Old

Sometimes we need to remind ourselves that there is more to life than just work, work, work.  In 1890, Yosemite National Park was created.  It’s not that a beautiful place did not exist prior to 1890, it did as shown in the 1878 watercolor of the Digger Indians by Constance Frederica Gordon-Cumming en, Indian Life at Mirror Lake.  National parks are great stress relievers.  No matter what your preference, camping, fishing, hiking, birding, photography and more, you can do any or all of it in the myriad of state and national parks scattered across our country.

Although, we certainly can’t get away from projects no matter where we go.  Not only is the designating of a state, local or national park a project, especially for those directly involved in a project like Yosemite, like Galen Clark and John Muir, or the president at the time Benjamin Harrison, but it will create more projects.  Fast forward to present day and the jobs initiative.  While we have not read all of the text of the proposed jobs initiatives, we haven’t seen anything on improving the infrastructure of our national parks.  While it may be that it is buried in there someplace, it probably isn’t.  Maybe it is because it only affects a specific, and small, group of people who use the parks.  We have a feeling that the number may be larger than we think.  According to the latest (2010) figures, more than 281,300,000 people visited our national parks.  Just like this website, however, they may not be all “unique” visits.  But still, 281+ million people per year is nothing to sneeze at, since the total population of the US in 2009 was approximately 307 million people.

But let’s not lose sight of the real issue here.  The question is, if there were infrastructure projects instituted as part of a jobs initiative, what is the economic, social and environmental ripple effects.  Just to give one example:  how many people would be employed during the infrastructure improvement?  If there are improvements, how many additional people would use the facilities?  How many people depend on the visitors themselves; e.g. restaurants, camping/rv suppliers and hotels surrounding the parks?  What are the effects on the environment?  Most importantly to us, these projects will need to be managed.  The different projects will lie along the green spectrum, from green by definition to green in general.

Let’s keep an eye on any jobs initiatives.  They will create projects! 

Big Ship, Big Blades

One look at the huge ship (612 feet long) and you knew it was something special.  It was backed up to the middle bridge of the Piscataqua River and loomed over the roadway.  How to handle the ship and its cargo is a project.  The Port Director at Portsmouth, New Hampshire, considered the project as a new opportunity, and we considered it as spawned from a Green by Definition (GbD) project.  First a little about the GbD project.  Granite Reliable Power Park is a wind farm project in northern New Hampshire.  It consists of 33 Vesta V90 3 Mw wind turbines, only the second U.S. wind project to deploy these turbines.  It will generate 330,000 MWH, enough to power 40,000 homes and offset 332 million pounds of carbon dioxide.  In addition, the project will generate more that 200 jobs.

The port project itself; offload the cargo to be used for the wind farm from the Salmaagracht, a Swedish registered massive vessel docked at the State Pier in Portsmouth.  The cargo:

  • 22 nacelles (gear housing) measuring 32 feet long and weighing 81 tons each, about the weight of two humpback whales.
  • 69 fixed blades, each measuring 149 feet long or about the length of 4 school buses and weighing 17 tons.
  • 22 hubs (part of the rotor assembly) and 22 spinners

What makes the ship special are the 3 huge cranes that can lift up to 120 tons.   Further logistics for the project included one tractor trailer for each blade, 80 workers, and 45 minutes to unload each blade.  It was a pretty amazing project that had never been done before in Portsmouth Harbor, unique, one time effort, consumes limited resources, has a fixed start and end date, you know, a project.  What we didn’t see is the greenality of the port project itself.  Yes, it was related to a GbD project, and we bet that by now, you know the questions to ask to evaluate the greenality of the project itself.  So here is the challenge.  Tell us the questions you might ask by commenting on the post.  We’ll start you out with one.  What kind of lighting do they have at the State Pier?

Toilet Seat Up, Toilet Seat Down

One of our project management author colleagues – one Kimberly Wiefling – she of Scrappy Project Management and other great Scrappy books, recently posted on Facebook on the subject of men leaving the toilet seat up, and how that might disqualify them from ‘running the world’.

We refuse to get into THAT specific argument with her, especially since a full and detailed survey of all EarthPM male employees and their spouses revealed a 100% compliance with toilet seat etiquette.

However: she did bring “up” (excuse the pun, but this is a semi-lighthearted, semi-tongue-in-cheek posting anyway) a very interesting point which actually has a takeaway message for project managers.

Let’s look at the “project” of using the bathroom for, well, we’ll call it, elimination of waste.

The project (hopefully) is of fairly short duration, and has a very specific outcome.  The outcome: you leave the bathroom refreshed, relieved, and cleaned (and a little lighter).

So if you’re a male, and you are taking care of your “project” in a standing-up fashion (see, we’re keeping it clean here), after you flush and wash your hands, you’re done with the “project”, right?

No sir, you are not.

Not if there are other stakeholders in the living or working space who are seated for their “projects”, no.  You are not really done, because you have considered only the outcome of the project. You should be thinking beyond the project and toward the overall objectives of the living/working space – which includes a good relationship with persons of all genders!

So, if you remember to put the seat back down, you have made that connection that must be made between strategy/objectives and steady state operations.   By putting the seat down, you have thought about the environment of the project (the bathroom, and the living space) rather than simply your “project”.  You have thought about sustaining stakeholder relationships and not just relieving pressure on your internal organs.

This is what we’ve been preaching, and it took Kimberly to put it forward in a concise, graphic sort of way.

In fact (and this is for the sake of comedy) we have already said that the “People, Planet, Profits” expression needed another “P”, and we did that by adding Projects to it – to get the quadruple bottom line.  I wonder if Ms. Wiefling has discovered the quintuple bottom line – the fifth P being, well, er, Putting The Seat Down.  Ha!  You thought we were going to say something else, didn’t ya!

You really should give Kim Wiefling’s books a shot.  We use Scrappy Project Management in our Essentials of PM training class, as a counterpoint to the PMBOK® Guide.  Her new book is called Scrappy Women in Business: Living Proof that Bending the Rules Isn’t Breaking the Law.

Give it a chance.  Perhaps you can read it while…  never mind…