Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Oxford Energy Futures


After leaving the US on June 6th, Nick and I first stopped in Oxford, UK, where we spent a week at Rawlinson road with Kseniya, Adrian, Masha and Kiril (Karen was away in France on a wine-gathering tour).
While Nick enjoyed the local skateboarding scene, Adrian and I prepared for our joint lecture at the Oxford Energy Futures conference hosted by the Oxford University CPD center at Rewley House.  The conference was really interesting, spanning the gamut from wood-derived energy to nuclear fusion and everything in-between - solar, wind and tide energy being still the primary technologies of promise.
Our dual presentation was very well received, especially the Energence web site demo by Adrian and my shameless plug for Bump which entailed handing the Droid phone I got from Google I/O to the audience so they could shake the phone and see the beautifully hypnotic accelerometer display that Josh Thorp endowed the application with.  We met a number of notables at the conference and it appears likely that Adrian and I may be invited back to lecture at Oxford in the fall.  Quoite Noice!
I also made time for a bit more work on our Energence enterprise, which (in a nutshell) is a company that Adrian and I founded to allow municipalities to monitor compliance with CO2 emission targets, based on the  "Merton Rule", which is named after the London Borough of Merton, where Adrian and I concocted the idea of a "Merton Gauge" while he was the chief environmental officer there and I was advising a team of students from WPI, while on a stint at the WPI London Project Center. The Merton Rule is now a national standard adopted by all local governments in the UK and Adrian Hewitt, FRSA, is Mr. Merton Rule (also known as "the green evangelist").  In abidance to the Merton Rule, new buildings throughout Great Britain now have to produce 10-20% of their energy on site, using renewable technologies, in order to contribute to the abatement of the carbon footprint of the town as mandated by a national law.  Energence provides a simple, web-based system that makes it possible for city officials to check whether these installations actually meet their targets once the buildings are occupied and the renewable equipment is in operation.
Together with Constantin Windisch-Graetz, our chief financial officer who happens to be the descendant of a Styrian prince, Adrian and I traveled to Beaconsfield (inexplicably pronounced Baconsfield, a feature of British language that continues to puzzle those of us who aren't native speakers) to discuss municipal leasing programs with Ken Hunnisett and David Cranmer of Cranmer & Lawrence.
The confusingly palindromic duo of Chris Martin and Martin Watson of EMC (the Energy Monitoring Company) who are providing us the hardware necessary to monitor energy production (and soon consumption too) at our building sites (appropriately starting in Merton, of course) were also in attendance at C&L.  Given the potential for a huge demand for these web-addressable, GPRS energy data loggers, we are discussing with EMC how to ramp up production and streamline installation.  Later in the week, I also finally met Ed Cotterill, our chief of operations, who had replaced Adrian as the chief environmental officer in Merton, after Adrian left for the private sector.  I think we have a very good and complementary team of people who are also fun to be with and pub-worthy.
Our initiative is shifting into high gear and picking up some real momentum. On this very day, a short month after Nick and I spent that week in Oxford, Adrian, Constantin and Ed are hosting a major workshop at the City of Westminster on Victoria Street, London. Half of the boroughs of London are in attendance, as well as representatives of the Energy Saving Trust (EST), the Local Government Association (LGA) and the acronymically anagrammatic Greater London Authority (GLA).  Down in Santa Fe, Redfish -- or more accurately John Guerin (Steve's dad) in Phoenix, Arizona -- has put in extra time to make sure that we have as many devices as possible on line in preparation for the event, which could be a major turning point in our own Oxford Energy Future.

In bocca al lupo!
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