DECC and their RESTATS map. You couldn’t make it up.

Well, having been advised that the Parliamentary Library recommend Renewables Map for information on Solar Farms, See: http://researchbriefings.parliament.uk/ResearchBriefing/Summary/CBP-7434  I wrote to my MP Helen Whately and raised two issues.

Why was   Parliament  advised to use Renewables Map rather than the £160,000 DECC equivalent? Actually no real question as RESTATS / REPD is unusable as a ready resource.

And when providing a map was one of the requirements of the tender, also a requirement under INSPIRE,  was there still no interactive map?

The questions were passed to Amber Rudd who ignored the first question entirely and regurgitated the same pat answers about why I didn’t get a look in on the tender. Basically: We are the Government, we always follow the rules and do no wrong.

My question:

“So, here we have the Government paying Eunomia for renewable energy project data collection and delivery. Being a joined up government I would be very interested in why “Renewables Map” my free resource is now being used as a reference within the House of Commons Library: http://researchbriefings.parliament.uk/ResearchBriefing/Summary/CBP-7434 (para heading “Converting solar to energy”).

I am more than happy for  parliament, their library and MPs etc to use it, I see that as a fantastic pat on the back  and would happily give even greater access, not all my data is visible. I do this already for very many students who base PhDs and MScs on my data and a growing number of schools who treat it as a core resource.

But what I would really appreciate is some understanding as to why DECC chose a company that is still failing to deliver when I had a track record going back 7 years at that time and had been previously used by DECC as their resource, but for free.   “

No mention whatever in her reply.

As to the non existent map, see: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/renewable-energy-planning-data and scroll down to:

On-line Interactive Maps

Please note that this facility has been removed while we update it.

But Ms Rudd says there is a map !  At last, well done.

Oh, actually there isn’t a map. I have attached Ms Rudd’s letter, but here is the relevant text:

However, Mr Mallett may also be referring to the publication of an interactive map. This is a requirement under the European Directive 2007/2/EC, known as ‘INSPIRE’. The aim of INSPIRE is to facilitate better environmental policy across the EU and requires Member States to make available, in a consistent format, spatial datasets which come within the scope of the Directive and create network web services for accessing the datasets.

I can confirm that the REPD service has been developed to meet these aims and objectives. Users are directed to a web map service where they can download and ultimately use the REPD information to build their own maps or applications. I agree that the sign posting to this resource is not as clear as it might be, so I have asked for the web pages to be updated with this information

Well, I have tried to find this but have failed miserably. I have tried the option: GIS data is also available on data.gov.  and that doesn’t work.  For heavens sake, this is 18 months since the contract was awarded and a basic part of the system is still not available!  Ms Rudd, I trust that you didn’t write that letter to me, simply signed it, they are taking the micky and making you look stupid!

INSPIRE is a requirement, DECC have failed to deliver.

There is no map, even the DIY map doesn’t work. How easy is it to add a map? Well, in the absence of a MAP for the REPD data, that has been paid for from Govt funds but not delivered, I included an additional location map for the REPD data I show as a convenient service to Parliament, and everybody else. It took about an hour to implement.  There are no restrictions as I am simply providing a service that is otherwise  missing – clearly welcomed by Parliament.  I do add a proviso that this is not my data, and the location accuracy is a bit dodgy.

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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

Developments to Renewables Map

Apart from the data being the most complete and accurate of any of the equivalent resources, Renewables Map is being further developed towards being a one stop shop for all data that is generally available online.

Showing More data

Many of the over 3,000 projects listed within renewables map now have the DECC and for active projects, the OFGEM data shown. This data is of course only available where the corresponding data has been listed by these organisations.  OFGEM is invariably up to date as subsidy payments are dependent on OFGEM being informed. DECC is not so consistent in maintaining its data, don’t blame me if that data is missing.

Address data is being added along with a separate postcode and county entry.

(ongoing) Associated company data is now being applied to all projects showing developer, owner and operator.  This is intelligently linked so by clicking on the associated business you get to see their contact details, then a list of their projects, again all hyperlinked.

(coming soon) The ability to select data sets and download to a csv file. An example might be:

All solar projects in Kent with number of panels, acreage, address, developer, capacity.

or

The latitude and longitude and elevation of all Vestas V90 turbines in the UK along with the associated project.

Offshore projects

For offshore projects, there is a direct link to the 4coffshore resource and their map embedded (with 4coffshore’s permission) .  Have a look at Kentish Flats Wind Farm  you will also be able to see corresponding data from DECC and OFGEM where this exists.

The MAP

The ability to specify in greater detail what will be seen, eg just particular turbines or all projects for a particular developer or in a particular county.

Smart Data 

In the future will be the ability to login and manage private data alongside data from the Renewables Map.  That is fairly straightforward as the user management exists within the software and I use it, however it will have to pay for itself first.

But I’m not seeing all this extra data !

Your 1st visit of the day will show most of the additional data, then you will be switched back to the restricted version.

Alternatively have a look at   http://www.renewables-map.co.uk/details.asp?pageid=1940

Renewables Map gets over 10,000 unique visitors each month looking at over 30,000 project pages. 30% are regular visitors, many using the renewable energy  map as a routine resource.

My aim was to have everything on the renewable energy database and map a completely free resource and have been writing to the biggest users who are also the biggest power companies and generators.

I’ll list the biggest power companies: EDF; E.on; npower; Scottish Power;SSE . Lets add the generators: Airtricity, Ecotricity; Infinis; Energis; REG; RES; lightsource;  – oh, and every other generator I’ve missed (sorry not too list you) . Lets add the wind companies like Siemens; Vestas; Enercon; Repower and Vattenfall and not to forget the associated companies like National Grid,  Narec, STFC.  Actually, find a list of all companies in any way associated with energy and specifically renewable energy  and they are my biggest users. Don’t forget to add the BBC and Associated Press – actually all the media.  Then there is every single council and Government Department including Parliament and even the FCO!

Why list all of these companies and organisations?   Well, I had started to write to them, they use the resource and it would be so much easier to sponsor than have a paid for resource. That at least would make it accessible to the equally large number of schools, colleges and universities that use the data.

So, what sort of response? Well, RWE and Vattenfall replied – the only ones. Both were a NO, they remain major users.

Everybody else didn’t even bother replying – but I’ve only contacted a small number so far. It gets very depressing.  Ecotricity emailed to ask for a download of all the data I have collected over the last many years.  I politely suggested that I couldn’t do this for free, I didn’t even get a response, they remain major users, I’ve tried contacting again, no response.

Same for Bloomberg – have you seen the price of their terminals !

Crown Estates – they even state they offer sponsorship – No!

You can read about my attempt to simply carry on doing this but for DECC here: DECC RESTATS .  depressing isn’t it.  The people who won the contract – Eunomia rapidly became one of the biggest visitors to Renewables Map, only stopping when I wrote to Jayne Redrup of DECC complaining about what clearly looked like data mining /  plagiarism.

Anyway a last attempt at keeping all this free is going to be an approach to Heritage Lottery fund. I really want this to remain the best and be free access. Its just that as an individual providing a service to – yes the list of companies and organisations above –  that is a bit silly.

So.  renewables map will aim go from strength to strength, remaining the best , it will unfortunately move towards a paid for model.

Sorry