Regardez! La Tour Eiffel a maintenant l’énergie verte!




You will have to look carefully (and that’s the way it should be, of course) but the Eiffel Tower now sports wind turbines.  In this very interesting article you can read about a project to add wind power and other sustainability-oriented features to the French landmark.

What we like about this project is the connection to the mission statement and vision of the leadership of the organization which maintains the tower.  Run by SETE (Société d’Exploitation de la Tour Eiffel) the group plans to to reduce the tower’s environmental impact by 25 percent as part of the City of Paris Climate Plan.  Tying their goals to their projects is exactly what we had in mind for enterprise in our new book, Driving Sustainability Success in Projects, Programs and Portfolios.

Have a look at the article.


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?

Salt of the earth…

Several of our last posts have focused on the economic and social responsibility legs of the triple bottom line.  With this post we return to the environmental leg, with a “green by definition” project which was just turned over for operation in sunny Spain.

“Green by definition” is one end of the Green Rainbow we talk about in our book.  These are projects which have as their main outcome an environmental improvement. The other end of the spectrum is “Green in General”, which would be, for example, release of your company’s payroll software.  Even those projects, we assert, can benefit from sustainability thinking.  But that’s not the topic of today’s post.  Today we talk about molten salt.

According to a great article in, “The 19.9-megawatt Gemasolar concentrating solar power plant uses 2,650 flat mirrors called heliostats arranged over 185 hectares of land to heat molten salt. The heliostats focus sunlight on a tower where liquid is heated up to 900 degrees centigrade. It is then stored for later use at above 500 degrees centigrade in tanks beneath the tower.”

Why salt?

Simple physics.  Salt retains heat longer than water.  Read about it at Sandia National Lab’s site.   Here’s a more detailed technical article about a plant to be built in Nevada.

And here’s a diagram of a molten salt solar power generation system.


The lesson for our project managers?  Learn the technology, the vocabulary.  Understand the importance and significance of such projects and be ready (and willing) to take on either a project like this.

Give yourself the opportunity to work on projects like this.


Wind Power Super Highway

HywindhighwayAs I was waiting for my flight back from the PMI Global Congress in Washington, DC, I picked up a discarded Washington Post (…..REUSE..REUSE…).  There was an article by Juliet Eilperin about Google backing a “superhighway”  for wind power, subtitled Underwater Energy Grid. If that wasn’t exciting enough, there was a sub-subtitle $5 billion project would supply mid-Atlantic area.  Project!  This is definitely one of those projects we term green by definition, but it is a very intriguing one, and one that a company like Google is willing to partner with Good Energies, and environmentally focused international investment company.  Google will provide 37.5% of the equity for initial development.

The project is dubbed the Atlantic Wind Connection and is intended to provide the transmission lines for a series of offshore wind turbines capable of supplying 1.9 million homes without taxing the already overburdened electric grid.  It is very ambitious project covering an area of 350 miles with on-shore transmission nodes in Norfolk, VA, Lewes, DE, the proximity of Manasquan, NJ, and Newark, NJ.  The article goes on to say that the water remains relatively shallow 10-15 miles offshore, far enough so as not to be seen from shore, one of the issue plaguing the Cape Wind Project.

How exciting to be a project manager on that project.  One of the risks would certainly be that since it is the North Atlantic, there is always that possibility of the “prefect storm”.  The timeline for the project looks like a deliverable in 2013 of construction start, complete in 2020, but with an interim milestone of the initial stage of construction complete in 2016.

Interestingly, Ken Salazar, Interior Secretary, said last month “Rather than develop transmission infrastructure on a piecemeal basic, we should – in close coordination with the private sector, states, and tribes – lay out smart transmission systems upfront.”  Gee, a strategy for a change (sorry-editorial comment).

Anyway, we’ll keep an eye on this project and this is just another reason for PMs to be “surfing the green wave“.

Blade running


In the film Blade Runner (at least the original that I’m familiar with), Rick Deckard, played by Harrison Ford, had a job to do.

From Wikipedia:

The film depicts a dystopian Los Angeles in November 2019 in which genetically engineered organic robots called replicants—visually indistinguishable from adult humans—are manufactured by the all-powerful Tyrell Corporation as well as other mega manufacturers around the world. Their use on Earth is banned, and replicants are exclusively used for dangerous, menial or leisure work on Earth’s off-world colonies. Replicants who defy the ban and return to Earth are hunted down and “retired” by police special operatives known as “blade runners”. The plot focuses on a brutal and cunning group of recently escaped replicants hiding in Los Angeles and the burnt out expert blade runner, Rick Deckard, who reluctantly agrees to take on one more assignment to hunt them down.

As project managers, we’ve also got jobs to do.

Unless we don’t.

Well, thanks to green energy efforts – and in particular, green energy projects, there should be more opportunities for project managers.  Case in point (yes, another ‘blade’ reference) – a recent posting by the energy collective talks about a huge number of green energy jobs coming to Canada, in particular, to Ontario, thanks to huge efforts on solar and wind power projects.

The Ontario government discusses this in detail here in their Green Energy Act in which Ontario has set its intent (and call to arms?) to be the “North American green energy leader”.  Here are the Green Energy Act’s main points:

  • Spark growth in clean and renewable sources of energy such as wind, solar, hydro, biomass and biogas in Ontario.
  • Create the potential for savings and better managed household energy expenditures through a series of conservation measures.
  • Create 50,000 jobs for Ontarians in its first three years.

They want to give Ontario the edge.

The key is the 50,000 jobs.  These are project-focused efforts.  So there will be a lot of work for project teams.  And so, there will be many jobs for project managers.

The reference to Blade Runner is mainly from this story in which Siemens will be building a turbine blade factory in southern Ontario.  The project managers overseeing the manufacture and distribution of the product from these factories are today’s blade runners.

The moral of this story?

It underlines our assertion that project managers should be learning about sustainability, building their green vocabulary, and practicing looking through their “green lenses”. You can do that by keeping up to date with our blog here at EarthPM and of course by buying and reading our book.  It will give you an advantage in the coming years that will (we couldn’t help this, sorry) cut like a knife.