Crown Estates and an unsustainable contact

Whenever I see a significant use of the Renewables Map, especially by an organisation that presents itself as supporting interesting projects, its time to make contact.

I saw:  http://www.thecrownestate.co.uk/coastal/marine-stewardship-fund/working-with-us/priority-areas/   no need to follow the links as they have taken the page down, but basically offering funding for suitable projects. Anyway, as Crown Estates were a major user of Renewables Map, it seemed appropriate to make contact.

So, an email last year, No reply, then followed up by:


Sent: Friday, April 17, 2015 8:04 AM
To: Enquiries
Subject: Re: Re “Working with us”

Dear Sir

I wrote to Crown Estates almost a year ago.  I was surprised to not even get an acknowledgement.

My last email described the heavy use of renewables map, clearly by Crown Estates staff, I am trying to keep this a freely available resource but as an individual you must appreciate that is not easy. Galling when the major users are multinationals

See your own use
http://renewables-map.co.uk/scripts/visit_listing.asp?details=YES&ipint_start=1406761472&ipint_end=1406761535&servicetype=1&vhostname=Crown%20Estates

I would be grateful if this could be passed on to the correct department

Regards

Simon

On 2 June 2014 at 14:48, Simon   wrote:

Dear Sir

RE: http://www.thecrownestate.co.uk/coastal/marine-stewardship-fund/working-with-us/priority-areas/

I am making contact with regard to the community projects that you support and whether my particular project might be eligible.

I am the creator and maintainer of www.renewables-map.co.uk. A resource that documents all renewable energy projects in the UK. I started this project back in 2008 and more recently it has grown out of all proportion to what it was and what can be maintained as a sustainable free resource by an individual. (Google adsense adverts generate about £15 a month )

The Renewables Map

It is easily the most comprehensive database / map showing renewable energy projects with a capacity of 1MW and over.

It is unique in showing the correct locations for projects, other resources [are either geographically limited (ie Cornwall only) or show the location based on the postcode. It is the only resource also showing precise individual turbine locations, [including] make and model, spec and elevation, many on Crown Estate land. So far almost 5,000 active turbines and another 1000 under construction and 1,200 proposed.

I monitor access to the resource and I note that Crown Estates staff are regular users.

See: http://www.renewables-map.co.uk/scripts/visit_listing.asp?details=YES&ipint_start=1406761472&ipint_end=1406761535&servicetype=1&vhostname=Crown%20Estates

It is a similar picture for all the energy companies, universities and schools, construction companies, local authorities and government departments from the FCO through to AEA Technology they are all regular users, along  Along with up to 7,000 other visitors each month through ISPs.

I would be grateful if you could consider this resource for funding, it certainly refers to your property and resources on it and is currently used by you. Would you consider Funding either through sponsorship or a grant or, preferably, with an element where the data can more directly support Crown Estates, I’ve got lots of ideas.

The first thing that comes to mind is a Crown Estates branded “Renewable energy map”  showing just those projects tagged as being on Crown Estates land. This would draw on the existing database and any relevant additional data.

If the above or an alternative is of interest, I would be happy to provide a more formal project proposal.

I have read the details on your website with regard to “Working with us” and the various terms of reference and this project would appear to fit in very well with your current ethic [??]

best wishes


So, finally a response.  Thanks Crown Estates, far bigger users don’t bother with responding, then simply carry on using a resource that they seem to increasingly rely on.

Anyway, without giving names and email addresses and the actual text of the email as it has a standard disclaimer about being confidential and only for the recipient etc. The gist was   NO.  But I got a response! Which deserved a polite reply.


Hi Martin

Thanks for your response.

I had checked again the use of Renewables Map by Crown Estates and see that the system had anyway switched off access automatically due to the very high use. I normally switch most users back on.

A major crane  provider was more blatant, they had employed a staff member to populate their dataset, found Renewables Map and proceeded to  go through my dataset one by one. When their access was stopped they complained, promised to look in to contributing – I have an email saying this – then, when access was restored carried on downloading with no further positive contact, only a further complaint when they were switched off again!

I really want to see use of the system, but it is perverse that the organisations that propose they are sustainable, don’t apply that principle to data.

It is very sad how Major businesses, feel that they have a right to information of this type and formatted in this way without contributing in any way, I note that you didn’t review the extent to which Crown Estates used to use Renewables Map, hence my contact. .

But, thanks again for the response, that was appreciated, bigger users simply don’t reply.

regards

Simon


So, can I suggest an alternative approach?

If you are a heavy user of Renewables Map, why not be part of its success, take a sustainable approach? Simply downloading every last bit of data that you can and walking away, well, its going to cost you in terms of time, most likely more than simply approaching me and paying for a download, then you can be part of its success!

Far better to support it a bit more, maybe guide it in a direction that really helps you?

Advertisements

DECC and why Government Computer Projects Fail

Back in the summer I bid for the tender to provide the self same Renewables Map facility but paid for by DECC.  If you read the specification within the tender document it all but exactly describes Renewables Map. There are a few more reports to add, but this is a very small proportion of the task. The biggest challenge is getting the data. More than that, DECC used to refer to Renewabales Map as if it was their own, then, in 2011,  changed the name of their resource to renewables map – a bit confusing?  Praise or plagiarism? .

Anyway, having been dismissed out of hand I wrote to my MP, got a reply through him from Ed Davey – a standard “We’re the Government, we always do the right thing” letter.

Then wrote to  Jane Redrup in DECC who replied in depth.  Thanks Jane, but if this is an indication of how DECC select providers, God help us.

I have copied the response below, You can also download here: DECC / Jane Redrup’s response 

But to summarise, this is the gist of the response: “We are not at all interested in what you have done or can show you can do, we want to see a jolly good essay.  All marks towards whether you get the tender bid will be based on grammar, spelling and punctuation.  Extra marks got to people who make claims about what they will do. Being able to show you are already doing exactly what we are asking for will not count in your favour”

Unbelievable!  But if this is an indication of how Government departments select suppliers, then we are truly doomed!

As to the winning bidder.  This is a company called Eunomia.  They are now one of my larger users.  See here:  Eunomia Research and Consulting use of Renewables Map.  Note that this (can I call it plagiarism? not sure) activity started immediately after they won the tender, clearly they had no interest nor experience in this subject until they got the contract. I expect they wrote good essay’s though!

Obviously to get the most of Jane Redrup’s response would need an understanding of the tender document, in particular the division between the delivery of REDP (Renewable Energy Database Project) and RESTATS (Renewable Energy Statistics)  I bid for REPD, not RESTATS Jane jumps between the two in critiquing my bid, also the response is inconsistent and with knowledge of tender / bid and evidence, certainly confused. NB. I did NOT bid for the RESTATS tender, I bid for the REPD tender. However I am being judged based on not proposing to deliver the RESTATS requirements!

Here’s an example from the initial dismissal :

The Sift Panel commented that the bid demonstrated experience of project management, with good evidence of data collection and development. However there was little evidence of how that would be applied to this work area. The bid also failed to demonstrate a good understanding of renewable energy and policy issues and of DECC’s requirement.”

However there was little evidence of how that would be applied to this work area. ”  Urm… Maybe the evidence of what is now accepted as the best collection of renewable energy project data in the UK? Do they have so little knowledge of what goes on beyond their office?

And with the experience of Project Management.  Actually I gave examples of successful projects, such as leading and largely doing a study of the Supreme Court in Pakistan that resulted in a successful bid for £millions from the ADB. etc etc.. so clearly recognised.  I didn’t say experience and training in PRINCE and PRISM. How can these be applied to what is in essence a process rather than change?

Anyway, have a look at the scores further down. Based on what Jane Redrup has said these are based on what I described not on evidence. So, however brilliant I am at developing databases, integrating GIS, automatic downloads of metoffice data, pick and point map entry, rdbms etc etc unless I can write a nice essay describing it, ,,,,  well, words fail me.  No wonder the Government’s IT record is so awful when this is the way tender bids are decided!

Letter text below
Dear Mr Mallett

Renewable Energy Planning Database Procurement Process

Thank you for your email of 28 October 2014, in which you seek further feedback about your tender to ‘Maintain and publish a planning database for renewable energy installations’ (Tender reference 830/06/2014).

I will address each of your points in turn but more generally, I would like to reiterate that DECC takes an evidence-based approach to procurement in the interests of fairness to all bidders. It is the Tenderer’s responsibility to ensure that the information contained within the response to the Invitation to Tender (ITT) meets all the requirements of the ITT on a full and comprehensive basis.

This procurement was for the maintenance and publication of a planning database for renewable energy installations. The ITT set out at Section 12 the scope of the work and the expectations of what the contractor would be required to do, and at Section 13, the requirements and outputs.

In particular paragraph 13.1 set out that the ‘overall aim of the work of the planning database is to ensure that Government can continue to have access to accurate data on the deployment of renewable electricity projects as they pass through the planning system. The emphasis will be on the capture of accurate and timely data on proposed and existing planning applications’.

Section 13 also listed specific objectives and advised that the tender should set out the proposed arrangements for covering these objectives.

To enable the Evaluation Panel to assess the best bid, the ITT set out at Paragraph 26.1 criteria for assessing the tenders, and the weighting to be applied. This included wording such as ‘experience / ability to demonstrate…’.
As part of this assessment, the Evaluation Panel was looking for bidders to demonstrate clearly and convincingly how they met the criteria and therefore the requirements of the ITT.

In submitting your Tender, you referenced a published renewables map as evidence of your ability to meet the requirements of the ITT. However, it was still necessary to support this by explaining in the main body of the bid how and
why it would meet all the requirements of the ITT (such as consistency, quality, accuracy, timeliness) and to provide assurance on how the outputs would be met to the required level. Unfortunately, there was insufficient detail in the bid
for the Evaluation Panel to verify this.

Simply put, you would have scored higher marks had you:

  • Provided supporting evidence within the body of the bid on how your renewables map met the requirements of the ITT; and
  • Addressed areas outwith the scope of the map in sufficient detail to provide evidence or demonstrate an understanding of the requirements.

For example, how the map and your proposed data collection processes were sufficient to meet DECC’s needs and quality standards; your approach to data quality assurance.

As requested, I will now address the individual points raised in your email. For ease of reference I have replicated your email below, with my response added in red below each comment.

Simon Mallet email:  (and response from Jane Redrup highlighted) 
I tendered for the REPD part of the overall RESTATS / REPD project and was dismissed at an early stage. The general statement was:

“However there was little evidence of how that would be applied to this work area. The bid also failed to demonstrate a good understanding of renewable energy and policy issues and of DECC’s requirement.”

Looking at the first sentence “however there was little evidence of how that would be applied to this work area” the specification of what was actually required as an output in every sense described renewables map. A resource that I have developed and axpanded over the years, even so far as to change the original restats target from sub 1MW to anything over 1MW.  The statement is irrational and ignores the evidence presented. Simply the fact that I was (as stated within the bid) and still am already doing what was required as the major output of the tender (and actually doing it better. The additional reporting was just a case of formatting the collected data in a different way.

Although you mention you would work with others, we would have liked detail on how you would do this, how you would guarantee the quality of the work and how you would meet DECC’s requirements.

The tender makes only very high-level, general references to working with developers and local authorities. We are aware of the difficulties of sometimes achieving timely and accurate data collection, so would have expected your response to include detail as to how this would be achieved or how the risk of a lack of engagement from them would be managed.

(NB.  I don’t know what statement Jane is responding to, its not at all related to my statement / question. As to dealing with developers and local authorities? Well, I’ve been accessing that data successfully for at least 6 years, many real projects I detail are not yet included on REPD) 

Going on from there: “The bid also failed to demonstrate a good understanding of renewable energy and policy issues and of DECC’s requirement” Having developed and managed the renewables map for over 6 years to the point where it is a resource used more than the equivalent part of DECC’s equivalent by 2 orders of magnitude, again this is an irrational statement.

As mentioned above, your tender concentrated on the publication of your map. You would have received higher marks had you, for example demonstrated an understanding of how Government policy on renewables has evolved over time, and mentioned the current challenges the REPD is designed to help address. For example, the management of financial incentives schemes and the need to meet targets and manage budgets.

I would also draw your attention to the statements from NAREC and STFC. You have seen these already.

Extracts and second-hand statements from third parties are not relevant unless they demonstrate meeting the requirements.

My contention is that as an individual, even though I was able to present proof of my ability to satisfy every requirement within the tender, my bid was always going to be dismissed.

As explained by Ed Davey in his response to the Rt Hon Sir Hugh Robertson, each proposal was assessed by an evaluation panel and marked in accordance with the published evaluation criteria and weighting, set out in the Invitation to Tender. The three suppliers with the highest scores from the written proposal were then shortlisted and invited for interview, two of which were SMEs.

The process was carried out in a fair and transparent way, overseen by a Senior Procurement manager. Whether the proposal was submitted by an individual, SME or large organisation was immaterial as the assessment depended on the evidence submitted within the tender.

I would also like a response to:

For about 2 years, renewables map was referenced by DECC / RESTATS as the definitive resource for renewable energy projects. Please can you clarify how this fits with the above dismissal of my ability to provide this resource formally. I can only think that you are happy to have it for free, but, for some reason will not entertain a bid to supply what was previously used by you for free I simply cannot understand this, unless I consider less salubrious reasons.

As set out above, the Panel could only consider the evidence submitted. I cannot comment on the previous reference or use of renewables map. However as one of the primary users of the REPD over the past 4 years, I can confirm that the
REPD is a key component of DECC policy making. Other published databases are unlikely to be used for DECC purposes as they are unable to provide the same level of certainty over quality, accuracy and timeliness of data.

(The concern here is that just because REPD is stated as a Govt resource it is by definition accurate and up to date. Having spoken to the previous provider of the data for RESTATS/REPD, they admitted that mine “Renewables Map” was more accurate and more up to date, the fact that the new provider is now data mining Renewables Map rather confirms this, so a comment to Jane, your statement is both arrogant and stupid! )  

I have stated that renewables map gets 60 times more visitors than the equivalent part of the restats/repd web presence. This is based on the data provided within the FAQs of the tender. Can you clarify web page views and unique visitors with a clearly stated time period, that information was omitted from the FAQs and cannot/ could not be considered ‘commercial in confidence;..

The contractor has advised that the data reported related to June 2014 and was intended to give a representation of the traffic levels.

Also, and perhaps as important as all the above. Following Eunomia’s award of the contract they are rapidly becoming the most frequent users of renewables map. If they are so much better that they justify being paid for this data, why are they
constantly data-mining my website. I cannot think of the words to express how contemptible that is.

This is not for DECC to respond.

I would appreciate a clear and honest response – please include my MP (via Stainton James) in your reply. I hope you will give him the respect, in your clear and full response to all of the above, that we both deserve.

deccscores

50% Emissions Cuts by 2027

So a cut of 50% based on 1990s emissions by 2027, that’s 16 years from now.

The graph shows the emissions reductions as we approach the 2020 target of a 20% reduction, the provisional figures for 2010 are almost certainly due to the recession which will be  replicated in 2011.

But, I do wonder how much of these emissions reductions are due to the export of industry to China and how much to increased efficiency and the use of renewable energy.

Certainly, while we have boosted the numbers of wind turbines and solar panels, these only represent perhaps 1 or 2 % of generated electricity, the headline figures of a 100MW wind farm realistically equating to maybe 20MW actually generated.  Solar panels  don’t yet make much of an impact.

Emisions are indicated as coming down, but is that because we are doing good things or simply moving our factories abroad?

What is clear is that the emissions reductions are almost certainly down to the shifting of industry to other countries, potentially with a higher level of emissions due to lowered efficiency.

Where the consumption of lets say a “tyre” for a car might have cost .2 tonnes of carbon where it was made in the UK, that tyre made in China and with the electricity generated from a coal power plant, equates to .3 tonnes, then it has to be shipped round the world (though perhaps we have saved some of the raw material shipping costs?).

So, there is more carbon in the form of CO2 generated but Britain claims a reduction!

Its the same as carbon offsetting or perhaps nearer the knuckle, getting somebody to accept a speeding fine so you can retain a clean licence?

To have any chance of showing an honest reduction in CO2, the 1st thing DECC needs to do is totally review the way Britain’s contribution to Global CO2 production is counted. Not based on what is generated in the UK, but what is gereated as a result of UK consumption of goods and services.

On the plus side this means we can remove the carbon associated with exports, but add those associated with imports. What about shipping and international travel ?

Do an honest measure and we might find that CO2 production that is attributed to the UK  has gone up since 1990. I think this is the more likely outcome.

Environmentally friendly – the greenwash continues!

” New Army’s HQ Land Forces base is opened in Andover” bbc news story as below.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-hampshire-11240456

Towards the end of the article: “The new headquarters’ buildings provide a modern working environment that is more efficient, economical and environmentally friendly.” Note the term Environmentally friendly.

Then

Those in married quarters will remain in Wilton and commute to the new workplace 20 miles (32km) away. The Army has arranged “assisted transport” for those who do not drive.

And there are 2,000 of them, many who will have moved to live near their existing place of work, I  wonder if staff commuting and availability of local accomodation was ever considered. It makes a complete mockery of the term environmentally friendly!

I suffered the same foolishness when working for the Foreign Office. Living in Kent and commuting by train to London, (as everybody in the department did) I, along with everybody was re-located to a site near Milton  Keynes, right out in the middle of the countryside, everybody had to commute by car a significant distance.

Again, the environmental and cost saving claims were no more than greenwash and foolishness. All it meant was the FO could sell an expensive London office, sod everything else!

With regard to the new environmentally friendly offices. No mention of solar or wind?

The US fails in its Carbon Responsibilities

US Energy Secretary Steven Chu says the US will not be able to cut greenhouse emissions as much as it should due to domestic political opposition.

Basically, the worry is that if they do the minimum that is required, the public will object and turn away completely from any changes that are required to mitigate climate change. A bit like Neville Chamberlain and peace in our time, Climate Change is Czechoslovakia, that small uninteresting place far away.

Its just that by appeasing Hitler then we reaped the whirlwind.

By constantly putting off real action on Climate Change, there will be no whirlwind, more a perfect storm.  

Even where the USA is waking up to the need to make change, its only the big and manly projects they want to take on. When US policy advisers suggest that we would only need to put solar PV on just 5% of the worlds deserts, it shows how totally out of touch from reality they are. Meanwhile they miss the utterly outrageous waste of energy that goes on in the US. While we are adding a third or fourth layer of loft insulation, in the USA, most houses do not have insulation which is relevant both in the air conditioned South and the heated North!

If the USA were to take Climate Change seriously, surely they, as the remaining superpower has an real chance of  working towards a way of having a technical populous civilisation while preserving the climate that we know.

What about a Manhattan Project with Fusion power as the goal? Okay we have had JET and now ITER, but these are long drawn out projects that are more akin to basic research, Physicists playing! There is little desperation to take ideas through to the point where they are products.

JET at Culham was a project of the 1980s. That was 30 years ago! The Manhattan Project went from Nuclear energy as a theory to the bomb in 5 years, then little more than another 10 years to Britain’s 1st Nuclear power station!  

Perhaps we are too focused on Solar Energy?

Corporate Responsibility is not an option, it is a Business Imperative

The following is a press realease from the recent Corporate Responsibility Conference, Bentley Motors, Crewe on Friday 10 October 2008.

At last we are getting a real focus on business taking a lead on alternative energy, lets hope its British business as well as the Germans. Also that the movement to this form of corporate responisbility manifests itself with real activity, not cheating through buying carbon offsets!

With expert business analysts predicting that by 2030, more people in Germany will work in environmental technology than in the car or machine tool industries* and that the worldwide transition to energy efficient buildings will generate between 2 – 3.5 million green jobs in Europe and USA*, it was not surprising that The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) attracted a healthy audience for its North West Region Corporate Responsibility Conference, held at Bentley Motors Ltd in Crewe.

North West Regional Director for the ICAEW, Mark Hale, commented:

“We were delighted with the turn-out for the conference and the inter-action between presenters and delegates. Corporate responsibility is no longer being seen as an option, but as a business imperative. We knew it would be a topic which attracts strong views from all sides and, given chartered accountants work at heart of every business across all sectors throughout the region, we felt it was incumbent upon us to start addressing the concerns, the problems and the solutions.”

Tomorrow’s World presenter Maggie Philbin was the conference chair and opened the day with a short presentation which reflected her personal commitment, instilled as she explained by her parents’ values and approach to life, to reducing our impact on the environment.

The keynote speaker was Mark Goyder, founder director of business-led think–tank Tomorrow’s Company, and an award-winning speaker with 15 years manufacturing experience.

He described the groundbreaking business report by eleven CEOs of major businesses   “Tomorrow’s Global Company: challenges and choices” . Businesses needed to redefine success, embed values, and collaborate with others to create new frameworks which allowed competition that did not harm the environment.

He spoke about the global financial crisis and drew this lesson for corporate responsibility. “Successful businesses need to balance their focus on results with a focus on behaviour. Every time we forget this we destroy value y destroying the conditions needed to build trust – as happened with Enron.”

Other speakers offered both impassioned and practical insights – Les Richards from the Carbon Trust explained how money and energy saving went hand-in-hand, Sue Ratcliffe and Richard Leopold from Bentley outlined the company’s CR strategy, Phil McVan from True Energy showed examples of successful renewable energy project

After lunch delegates heard from Robert Epstein (Microsoft) and Adam Hart from O2. The day ended with a Q&A panel session chaired by Maggie Philbin.

ICAEW North West Region would like to thank Bentley Motors Ltd and sponsors O2, Microsoft and financial recruitment firm Greenwood Gleeson.

The Institute’s new Business Sustainability e-learning programme (BSP) aims to raise awareness of the business case for Corporate Responsibility and the issues which face companies in becoming sustainable. For details visit www.icaew.com/businesssustainability

text provided by True Energy Ltd