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Monthly Archives: November 2012

Can Tidal Energy be the New Wind?

Energy markets have been evolving over the last decade and the next big growth area appears to be Tidal Energy.  The US market recently commissioned the first commercial tidal power project to deliver power from water into the grid.  The project off the coast of Eastport, Maine has taken the first step in proving that the technology of harnessing energy from water is now a reality.  I reflect how when wind turbines first started to appear on our horizon, they too broke the mould on traditional energy forms and have become a large portion of our energy mix around the globe.  So what can the tidal energy companies learn from the journey that the wind power companies took?

Wind Power companies were pioneers in changing the energy markets where they first started to appear.  They took a disruptive technology and a new challenge to traditional energy generation and made it work.  These companies have led the way in terms of technical revolution whereby they strive to develop bigger, more efficient and cost effective ways of harnessing power from the wind.  Significantly, they also pioneered a business model whereby they educated the banks and the financial institutions into how to fund these large, capital intensive projects.  They showed the way to not only make Renewable Energy good for the environment, but also good for the investors!  This is the challenge now facing the emerging tidal energy companies – how can they make their businesses investible?  Early stakeholders are carrying the risk and are basically investing in the technology – hoping to see it commercialised and viable – this is the highest risk level and therefore does not make a compelling opportunity for a bank or investment company to support the venture.  It is too risky!

So when will Tidal be able to bring the same level of investment and a similar profile of investment partners that the wind companies can attract?  I am basically asking – when will harnessing power from water become mainstream?  To become truly mainstream, I believe these pioneers need to not only innovate with disruptive technology but also focus on innovating the business model and bring an international, standards based approach to how they develop their sites and prove that tidal energy has a prosperous future.

So under the surface, maybe Tidal Energy is not so different a business.


Posted: November 28, 2012

The Dreaded Ping

I’m Bernard Carroll, co-founder of Enverian.

I have spent over 20 years managing and delivering projects and portfolios in the IT, Pharma, Medical Devices and Utilities sectors.

During that time I have learned (the hard way!) that Portfolio Project Management (PPM) isn’t easy to deliver consistently, systematically and assuredly!

In this series of 5 blogs I’m going to highlight a number of PPM challenges, individually selected to illustrate an aspect of PPM that most people find challenging and then to give my view (backed up with a video) to show rather than tell how the challenge can be addressed.

The 5 blogs are…

1. The Dreaded Ping
2. Consolidate the Portfolio
3. One Version of the Truth
4. I’m a Project Manager…get me outta here!
5. PPM doesn’t come cheap! Right?

1. The Dreaded Ping

One of the biggest challenges I faced as a project manager was to deliver accurate and up-to-date project reports AT VERY SHORT NOTICE – the dreaded Friday afternoon ping from the boss: “I need a status report on your projects by close of business.”

Usually, the information is available but it needs to be retrieved and collated from a variety of sources, such as spreadsheets, email, MS Project, Powerpoint, timesheets, finance reports, Sharepoint …the list goes on…and even then the information needs to be written up into a comprehensive report and/or Board presentation.

Apart from the time and effort involved, is this really the best use of my skills as a highly qualified and experience Project/Portfolio Manager – compiling reports? running around looking for updates? Well….YES, it is. But it shouldn’t be as arduous as it is most of the time…!

And there are other downsides…

• I can’t complain about the short notice because then I’ll be seen as “not on top of things”
• I will shy away from Portfolio level reports simply because they are too difficult to deliver in a timely manner – and then I live in fear of the “dreaded ping”
• Rather than being a manager of risks I will be, at best, a reporter of them
• Information/data will be an output of my process rather than a driver of it

This is why I created Enverian Developer – to overcome these challenges – consistently, systematically, assuredly!

Have a look at this video to see how we have designed Enverian Developer by PM’s for PM’s to provide an accurate, up-to-the-minute project status report covering finance, tracking, risk, resources and roll up to portfolio level.

Keep an eye out for my next post…. 2. Consolidate the Portfolio

Posted: November 23, 2012

Wind turbine timber tower? Yes it’s a reality!!

A wooden wind turbine tower?  Yes you read that correctly – a wind turbine tower made of wood is now a reality and may well be a game-changer for the onshore wind industry. German company TimberTower has erected a 100m prototype wooden tower topped with 1.5MW turbine in Hannover, Germany*.  The tower is constructed of laminated timber panels which are assembled on-site into a hexagonal, octagonal or dodecagonal shaped tower with a cross-sectional diameter in excess of 4.2m which is the maximum possible with conventional steel towers.  Steel turbine towers are limited to a height of approximately 110m by the 4.2m diameter.  The diameter can not be larger than 4.2m as the tower sections would not pass under road-bridges during transportation to the wind farm site.  This restriction does not apply to the timber tower as the component panels fit into standard 40ft containers which are transported on standard trucks.

Thus the advantages of timber towers are twofold:

1. Higher towers will result in more power generation: estimated to be between 30% and 40% more for a tower of 140m which is currently under development

2. Construction cost, including transportation, is estimated to be 20% less than with conventional towers

The question then is:

How to re-value a portfolio of planned on-shore wind projects to take account of the savings made by using timber towers?

Answer:  Enverian Developer makes this easy as this one minute video shows.


IEA’s World Energy Outlook 2012 Paints a New Energy Landscape

The release earlier this week of the International Energy Agency’s (IEA’s) World Energy Outlook 2012, was digested with interest by the energy industry. The IEA’s flagship publication is often seen as the authoritative voice in anticipating emerging future energy trends and potential game-changers.

So what were the key insights this time around? Well the global energy map is changing for a start. It is being reshaped by a resurgence in gas and oil production in the United States, a retreat away from nuclear power in many countries post-Fukushima and an increase in both the penetration of renewable energies such as wind and solar and also the use of unconventional gas. A significant rise in oil production from Iraq, making it second only to Saudi Arabia in 2035 as a global exporter, along with policy opportunities for improving energy efficiency in countries such as China offer other tantalising glimpses into the future.

Despite the forecast growth of renewable energies, fossil fuels will remain the dominant energy source. This position is being reinforced by the subsidies the sector receives which in 2011 amounted to $523 billion, an increase of 30% on 2010 and six times more than subsidies to renewables.

Interestingly, renewable energies are expected to become the second-largest global source of power generation behind coal by 2015 and by 2035 are expected to reach near parity. The rapid increase in the penetration of renewables is underpinned by a number of factors including rising fossil fuel prices, falling technology costs, carbon pricing and continued subsidies.

For further details see


Posted: November 16, 2012

Outcome of U.S. Elections Bodes Well for the Renewable Energy Industry

Following Obama’s re-election, the U.S. renewable energy industry collectively breathed a sigh of relief. Here is a man who recognises the critical role that the sector can play in securing America’s prosperity rather than dismissing it as an imaginary world of the future. Both the wind and solar industries have seen record growth under his stewardship in recent years.

Although Obama’s victory is encouraging, there still remain significant hurdles to be overcome. The fate of the Production Tax Credit (PTC) for wind which expires on December 31st remains undecided though its chances of being extended are now far greater than might have otherwise been the case. Likewise, the Investment Tax Credit, which helps support commercial and residential deployment of renewable energy technologies, is also due to expire in 2016 and faces an uncertain future.

However, it’s not just Obama’s re-election that has offered up positive news for the industry. A number of renewable energy advocates were also returned to Congress signalling an endorsement from the electorate for their existing policy stances. It was also notable that in key swing States such as Iowa, Colorado, Michigan and Ohio which all have a significant wind industry base, Obama emerged victorious.

As we await the fate of incentives such as the PTC in a lame-duck Congress, at least the industry can rest assured that in Obama they have a leader who shares in their vision and understands that “we’ve got more work to do.”

Posted: November 9, 2012

Why do investors in Renewables prefer P90 numbers?

One of the big risks for renewable (wind, solar, and more recently ocean) developers is the variability of the fuel source. While forecasting improves all the time, no developer can guarantee that a location with a history of strong energy estimates won’t underperform for a period.

Thus, to protect themselves against such underperformance, investors have developed a way to put production requirements on projects and therefore de-risk the loan. These requirements involve the calculation of probabilities for energy production which are expressed as P values. Typically P50 and P90 probabilities are used.

A P50 figure is the level of generation that is forecasted to be exceeded 50% of the year – in other words the ‘average’ since half of the year’s output is expected to surpass this level, and the other half is predicted to fall below it. As a project developer I like P50 as it is the most likely outcome in any given year. The power output using the P50 ranks my project higher. I therefore want to promote my projects using the calculated P50 number. The investment returns are better and the project is more likely to be funded.

A P90 figure is the level of generation that is forecasted to be exceeded 90% of the year. This is a more conservative estimate and as an investor I like the P90 number as it comes with a lower level of risk – 90% of the time the generation will be exceeded and therefore will more likely meet the financial performance targets for the project.

Hence the dilemma – project developers like P50 but their investors push them to deliver projects that are viable based on P90 estimates.


Posted: 01 November 2012

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    Enverian was established in 2011 to provide innovative, complex and flexible business solutions to the energy sector. The company is led by a Board of former CIO's of Bluechip companies and a Senior Management team with extensive experience of delivering key strategic initiatives in Renewable Energy, Biotechnology, Financial, Utilities and IT environments. Read More...