#3 Heat Waste – "Not just a net-taker"

Episode 3 March 23, 2022 00:28:02
#3 Heat Waste – "Not just a net-taker"
Smart in the City – The BABLE Podcast
#3 Heat Waste – "Not just a net-taker"

Mar 23 2022 | 00:28:02


Hosted By

Tamlyn Shimizu

Show Notes

On our journey toward a better urban life, we talk about cities but also Smart City solutions and trends.

In this episode, we discuss Heat Waste Reuse with Michael Oghia, former Director of External Relations for the Sustainable Digital Infrastructure Alliance (SDIA), and Miguel Mósca, Smart Cities Consultant at BABLE.

The SDIA strives to bring together companies, individuals, and governments to advocate and realize key initiatives such as heat reuse, smarter power consumption, and efficient use of resources.

Overview of the episode:

01:56 - Teaser: If SDIA were a superhero, what would its power be?

04:53 - What is SDIA, its goals, and its activities?

07:45 - What does "Heat Waste Reuse" mean?

11:28 - Looking at it from an investment perspective

16:18 - An advantage for rural areas as well...

17:29 - ... that can be implemented at a local level

21:14 - Roll with the Punches: our guest answers "this or that" questions

25:09 -  Ending Question: To you, what is a Smart City?


Liked our show? Remember to rate it! Want to join us for an episode? Contact our host Tamlyn Shimizu.

And for more insights, join our Smart City Community!

View Full Transcript

Episode Transcript

Michael Oghia 00:00:00 I think together, we can really look at how some of the existing problems that exist in the world today and think, all right, where do we need more tech tech? Where do we need more policy? Where do we need more advocacy? Where do we need citizen groups coming out and saying, this is how I want my community to look. And this is how I want to interact with it. This is how I to exist within it. Um, and whatnot. And I think a lot of that needs to be, you know, citizen driven. And so understanding this intersection, understanding this, these dynamics, it's really, really important. And I think there's so many ways that we can continue to do that together. Tamlyn Shimizu 00:00:42 Welcome to Smart in the City - The BABLE Podcast, I am your host Tamlyn Shimizu. And really at BABLE, we aim to connect the players in the smart city industry with high quality information and ideas through our platform and services. This podcast is really an extension of this school and mission to drive the change for a better urban light. So today I am back actually in the BABLE studio in Stuttgart, but, uh, traveling into the world of heat waste reuse. First, I have to introduce you to a special guest on the podcast, my esteemed colleague and smart consultant, Miguel Mosca. Welcome Miguel. It's nice to have you on the show. Miguel Mosca 00:01:27 Thank you, Tamlyn. It's a pleasure being here today with you and our other guest. Tamlyn Shimizu 00:01:32 Yeah. And, and also big welcome to our other guest today, who is Michael Oghia, the, the director of external relations at the Sustainable Digital Infrastructure Alliance or SDI a big warm welcome, Michael. Thanks for being with us. Michael Oghia 00:01:49 It's my pleasure Tamlyn. It's my pleasure, Miguel. Thank you both so much for hosting me. Tamlyn Shimizu 00:01:54 Yeah. Thanks for joining us today. And, um, really before we kind of get into the, uh, the meat of the conversation. So to say, I guess I want to, to start off asking you both a bit of a silly question, if SDIA were a superhero, what would its power be? <laugh> Michael Oghia 00:02:15 Obviously flying. No, I, I, I honestly don't know, like, uh, that's. That is a good question. So should it be a superhero superpower or to be something aspirational to what we actually hope to achieve? Tamlyn Shimizu 00:02:27 I think it should be a super hero superpower. And then later on we can dig into the actual aspirations. Michael Oghia 00:02:35 Hmm Tamlyn Shimizu 00:02:36 <laugh> okay. Michael Oghia 00:02:37 Okay. Okay. I think I've got it. Mm-hmm <affirmative> just because we are all about sustainability. Yeah. I'm gonna with the full suite of powers that captain planet had. Tamlyn Shimizu 00:02:50 Okay. Which ones are those? Michael Oghia 00:02:54 I just remember that, uh, captain planet could, for instance, go around and clean up ecosystems and, uh, you know, uh, he could fly, which means we don't have to spend carbon on, um, any emissions from the, from aviation. So there's, I guess that's, that's a plus, but yeah, I would say I would, I would go with that. I think that's most relevant. Tamlyn Shimizu 00:03:14 Yeah. Yeah. Sounds good to me. And now the question turns, Miguel <laugh> Yeah, no pressure, no pressure. It's a tough question. If I'm starting off hard here, not, not deep but hard. If BABLE was a superhero, what would its power be? Miguel Mosca 00:03:32 Well, since we already have the pleasure of being with captain planet here, um, thanks, Michael. It's a was a very good insight, but I think for BABLE I could go a bit cheesy in say, we want making someone that just touches the city and makes it super livable. I would say, I'll go with something easier. I think the superhero, the superhero power would be that we just swallow carbon emissions <laugh> To just transform it. You know, we swallow, we bring, and we take it out as, uh, you know, the proper gases of the atmosphere that should be there in their real, uh, quota. Tamlyn Shimizu 00:04:07 And then it like just comes out and it forms these like beautiful streets. Miguel Mosca 00:04:13 <laugh> from a rainbow Michael Oghia 00:04:15 Neglect. Devour of carbon. Tamlyn Shimizu 00:04:17 Yeah. <laugh> Miguel Mosca 00:04:19 You got the, for the name. Yeah. Tamlyn Shimizu 00:04:21 There you go. Yeah. Thank Michael Oghia 00:04:24 Yeah. That's no worries. That's actually a real, a real like Marvel villain, I think. Yeah. Go Galati or whatever. So maybe it could be bale destroyer of, uh, of carbon, you Tamlyn Shimizu 00:04:34 Know, that's, that's pretty Miguel Mosca 00:04:35 Good. The, the only tiny difference as we, we don't to be a villain, but, but that's okay. Michael Oghia 00:04:41 Gonna be teaming up a captain planet. Are you kidding? We're in this together, collaboration Tamlyn Shimizu 00:04:46 Also collaboration and that's a, that's a good, uh, uh, starting point for our, uh, few questions. I think it would really help if we got a little bit of background about what is SDIA Michael, and, um, what's yeah. If you can just summarize a bit of your goals and, uh, activities. Michael Oghia 00:05:06 Of course. Um, the SDIA is a, uh, nonprofit network that is co based in the Netherlands and Germany that, uh, brings together our well now way more than 65 members and partners to, um, essentially create a sustainable digital economy. And the way that we're trying to do that is that obviously we focus on sustainable digital infrastructure. The idea being that if you take an entire, if you look at the entire dig value chain underpinning the digital economy, there's 30 plus into streets all across the sector from energy provision and generation all the way up to software. And so the idea that we had is that if we really want to make an impact and make the sustain the sector sustainable, we need to bring all of these sectors together to work in a much more holistic systems based collaborative way, because otherwise most of the sustainability initiatives are very piecemeal. Michael Oghia 00:06:09 And, you know, for instance, even if you take just the carbonization, that's a huge goal. That's a huge, but that's actually just one part of the sustainability puzzle that doesn't address biodiversity. It doesn't address plastics. It doesn't address, uh, critical mineral mining. It doesn't, uh, include EWA dumping. I mean, there in pollution, there's so many things to take into account. And while the scope is big, one of our biggest value in addition to bringing these different sectors together is that we are focusing very strongly on making the business case for sustainability via our roadmap to sustainable digital infrastructure by 2030, in other words, as much as we can support sustainability, if it's not economically viable, not going to be itself sustainable in the long term. So for us, we are very, very, it's all about saying, okay, what kind of policy tweaks need to happen? What kind of technological innovation needs to be facilitated? What kind of, um, you know, incentives or subsidies should we, we be advocating for? So SDIA, it kind of is working to engage with our community to push these things forward, uh, along the six metrics of our roadmap and the more than now, 21 activities that we have that we're working to realize over the next 10 years. Tamlyn Shimizu 00:07:31 That's an amazing summary. Thank you. And I think we can echo from our side as well, that it's a truly a pleasure to be a especially partners and, uh, to be, you know, collaborating more on so many of these different topics. So, um, and I guess here, I would like to dig in a bit more into a specific topic. Um, right now, obviously we're speaking very high level, um, and digging a bit deeper into a topic. I know you're very passionate about Michael, which is heat waste we use. So, um, I guess first describe what, what does that mean for people who don't know? Yeah, yeah, yeah. Michael Oghia 00:08:06 There's, there's a lot to go through. So if you're listening to this and being like, huh, what just, don't worry, we'll walk you through it. <laugh> so the let's start, let's start at point a point a is, um, that did infrastructure traditionally has not been something that you really see. It's a bit like an iceberg. The internet itself is a bit like the iceberg. Like you might see a little bit of it, but most of it is underwater. Now that is both literally in that a lot of internet infrastructure, like submarine cables runs under the oceans, connects continents, or is the, and orbiting above us, you know, in terms of communication, satellites and whatnot. But the bit that you do see that kind of pops up a bit like a mushroom cap, if you're to, to go to the sustainability, uh, um, you know, kind of imagery is, um, most of what people might think of when they think of internet infrastructure are things like your router in your home, or maybe the mobile communications tower that that's up in your neighborhood, or depending on where you live. Michael Oghia 00:09:09 It could even be a data center. Now, when we talk about heat waste or reuse, what let's break this down for a data center, a data centers are highly energy, um, intensive. They, they take a lot of energy in part because they need energy to cool servers. And so then obviously if you're cooling servers, those servers are also generating heat. Now, the idea of heat waste is that, well, if there's a lot of heat being produced in a data center, that's technically a byproduct of whatever energy is being used to create the, the electrons that are either powering it or cooling it. And so, in other words, you're taking an energy source and it is, is throughout this process of whatever it's being used for. It's create, it's generating heat as a, as a byproduct, as, as a, as a waste product. Now, the idea that came about maybe about 10 years ago is how can maybe somebody said, huh, wait a minute. Michael Oghia 00:10:13 We have a lot of heat, and maybe I'm in an area let's say that's especially cold. Why can't I take the heat that's being generated and actually pump it into, let's say, a local business or a school or some homes and help them heat their home heat water that they would use for boiling, you know, whether it be, you know, for showers or cleaning or whatever, you know, or why can't we use this as a way to offset, let's say natural gas, so, you know, and whatnot. And so this idea of heat waste within data centers and we reusing it has really come about. And to me, it's fast and I will get into that, but I don't want to prompt it. I mean, otherwise I'll just sit here and talk about this probably for, you know, forever. So as, as an introduction to the topic, how's that, am I missing anything that you think the audience may be interested in? Tamlyn Shimizu 00:11:11 No, I, I think that's pretty solid, uh, a good explanation from your end and, um, I guess, Miguel, do you have something to add to that? Do you think that it's a topic that we usually talk about when we talk about cities or should we be talking about it more? Miguel Mosca 00:11:27 Yeah, definitely. Um, you know, we discuss kind of everything, energy related to, uh, when I say cities, it's all kinds of municipalities, you know, from the mini ality with 2000 inhabitants, the one with 2 million. So let's not forget about that because that the smaller ones normally are the ones struggling most with heat, which is a source, a type of energy, um, and heat waste we use, as you mentioned, it's the, the, the byproduct of heat from it can be, you mentioned data centers, but even there are examples, uh, as well, that mention, um, using this type of heat, not, not only from such large infrastructure, but even from industry or, you know, refrigerators from, uh, supermarkets or big retails. So there's a lot to work on. Of course, if you look at an investment perspective, it makes more sense if you go to a data center because it's large and most likely will become the, the, the will take the will bring the best returns as soon as possible. But, um, the value that it can bring to the cities, and sometimes it can outcome the, the value of investment that we are trying to make when it comes the small scale ones. But we can then go into detail in a second. What's your opinion on, on this, uh, Michael? Michael Oghia 00:12:38 Well, there, there's a lot of cont. I want to answer that and to do that, I, I need to just put down a little extra context first. So every, I completely agree with everything you've said, Miguel, and to, to kind of go a little bit further, and that is that data centers, especially if look at what's called the flap markets, Frankfurt, London, Amsterdam Paris, if we're thinking of talking just about Europe, uh, those four markets are very hot right now for data centers and a lot of regulations coming up. There's a lot of even citizen pushback for instance, about like, you know, why are all these datas coming up? Why are they taking up all of our green energy, et cetera. So there's really, um, it's really imperative that we start seeing digital infrastructure as not just a net taker, but also as like something that can add value, not just digitally, but also within the actual space that it's using too. Michael Oghia 00:13:33 And so data center, heat waste reuse is a, is one way, one of many tools that we can actually take this infrastructure and make it part of the community, make it actually something that's more than just value added for Facebook or Microsoft or whatever. Um, and so I really love the idea that heat waste reuse. It combines sustainability with, um, community development, as in like, how can we actually promote the develop the communities that we're in. It makes sense because heat is something, especially in cold countries that is always hard to come by and, um, of horse from a policy point of view, it's an, it's kind of, I think a, a little bit of a low hanging fruit because most of the time what's missing is that is the incentive to let's say, make a data center operator kind of invest in this, but if let's say we create a subsidy for heat pumps, and we now make that an attractive of way that a data center can give back to the community can support, um, can make itself more sustainable and can obviously improve kind of become, like I said, value added. Michael Oghia 00:14:49 And to go back to kind of one of your points is that, um, you're absolutely right, that it's not just the data centers that can do data that can do heat waste reuse. It's, it's pretty much any industrial application I would say. But the idea is, especially that we need to take holistic approaches to sustainability, to within urban settings. And I think transforming our ideas of, of what is waste and rather taking our idea of waste and transforming that into something that is useful, that is applicable, whether it be to waste, whether it be to e-waste as well, like the a and, you know, the idea that we throw out so many electronic devices, there are so many metals and minerals, including gold and silver, and so many others in there that we could be recycling. So there's urban recycling for instance, is part of that, you know, for, so, um, there's a lot that we could say, sorry if I'm talking too much, I do not want to bore your, your list. Tamlyn Shimizu 00:15:52 No, I, I think it's better that you talk a lot more than more than me, so I, I please go ahead. Um, that's how it should be. Um, yeah, but I would just hand off to Miguel also to, you know, follow up on that. Miguel Mosca 00:16:05 No problem at all, because everything that you're talking about here, the, the, the goal of encapsulating it in, within a short, all of the topics, it's very, very hard, uh, for, I think for all of us. Um, and I understand you, and I'll just want maybe the other perspective, because you're talking about, again, a lot about urban environments and the ones struggling with the most energy poverty as well are the, the ones that are not urban more. Um, and these ones also can take the same advantage as, uh, as the others from heat, uh, which we use or to industry or for any other reasons. Um, but sometimes they lack the infrastructure to do it, right. So if you look at the, the NORS, they have, uh, a lot of district, he, so this is a perfect scenario for using heat waste reuse, right? So you just, there are end cases that we could, yeah, I can see already. Michael Oghia 00:16:59 <laugh>, I'm, I'm sorry. I'm just laughing because you, you, so right on by mentioning the heating and that's, this is something that actually excites me about data center, heat waste reuse, especially, but just, you know, any industrial application of heat waste, reuse, bear in mind. I am actually not an expert about this. I it's just something I, as in, like, I'm not a Thermo engineer, I'm not a, you know, I'm not somebody that's worked extensively on this for years. I can point it to those people, but I'm just so excited about the promise of this. And at the fact that whether you're in an urban setting or a rural setting, much of the kind of positive momentum behind this can actually be done at the local level. And that's, what's exciting. You don't need an international treaty. You don't need to lobby the European parliament. Michael Oghia 00:17:49 You can go and talk to your mayor to your district, heating utility, you know, to your local, um, utility, whatever you can say, like, why isn't this something that we're thinking about? What is, how can we do this? To me? The issue is stakeholder engagement, not money, not technology. The technology exists. It's all about pricing to make sure that the heat can be sold in a way that's profitable for the, for the data centers themselves. It's all about making sure that for instance, heat pumps and the underlying infrastructure that would need to take, let's say the waste, um, to wherever it needs to go. That that is the managed that is processed, that, that it can be, um, it can actually be port from one place to another. And then third is just an enabling environment, whether that be regulatory and policy, whether that be with the different actors involved, because this is a complex ecosystem. And so it can't, it's not just like taking a hose and putting it into somebody's house, like, you know, from the data set there, there obviously needs to be a lot of steps in between, but not that many, you know, in other words. So as long as the infrastructure is there, as long as there's kind of the will politically, or in terms of stakeholders and community to actually make this happen, I think it it's possible. And there are multiple applications already. So it's not like there's a lack of case to is out there. Miguel Mosca 00:19:12 I think I, I would debate a bit on the, on the part that you mentioned that it's just stakeholder engagement. I think it's super clearly important to have the buying of all stakeholders, but as EV every time, if we are putting this sort of very heavy infrastructure, uh, I think investment side is also very, very important. It, it's not that it doesn't exist. It's just very important to be taken into consideration because sometimes there are investments that are made not to be profitable, are made to make wellbeing of the people. And, and that's very hard to, to explain, uh, most of the times when you are doing these type of projects, but I think, I think that's, that's something we can agree. Right. And, um, Michael Oghia 00:19:52 Absolutely sorry for being a bit imprecise with my language. I'm so used to saying political will, that I obviously, as it relates to politicians or politics and legislators, but I really should have meant buy-in by, I agree, actually agree with you. And I do want to kind of amend what I said. I do mean buy-in from all stakeholders, and that's why I really kind of, I should stress that. Um, it's not just about policymaker or local regulators or utility companies, but it, it is also about the infrastructure operators themselves. And this is why we say we need to make sure that it's profitable because otherwise, um, otherwise it will be harder now. That's not to say that it better, in many other ways, it's definitely better for communities. It's definitely beneficial to the planet, to our local environments. It's, uh, it is taking a waste product that would just be normally vented into the atmosphere and using it for something useful. So there's all that, but of course, um, where you, where it becomes a bit trickier is getting all these actors aligned and on board. And so, yes, I'm sorry, Miguel, again, don't mean to, I actually, I completely agree with you and thank you for clarifying that. Miguel Mosca 00:21:05 No, I, I think it's important sometimes to, to have a bit more of discussion. If we agree with each other all the time, uh, then, then it gets boring. Right? Fair enough. So maybe we can bring now, uh, one of the segments of, of the podcast, uh, uh, Tamlyn has handed over that part to me, which is actually the one that we want you to choose something and not to agree with everything. Okay. So Tamlyn Shimizu 00:21:26 It's sorry this to clarify, it's, it's really a, this or that, um, kind of, uh, question you have to answer very quickly right off the top of your head, which one? And then afterwards you <laugh>, and then afterwards you can explain your answer. Michael Oghia 00:21:41 Sure, exactly. It is exciting. I like Tamlyn Shimizu 00:21:43 The it's called it's one of my favorite segments too, by the way, it's called roll punches. So, but I'm handing it off to Miguel love. <laugh> go ahead, Miguel. Miguel Mosca 00:21:52 It's a pleasure. It's a pleasure. So I'll, I'll crack on, um, then you, you, you, you say it and as time mentioned, you just have a few, you have a few seconds and to explain why, uh, why you think it. So, first one, are you ready? Michael Oghia 00:22:07 I am ready. <affirmative> Miguel Mosca 00:22:09 Walking or cycling, Michael Oghia 00:22:11 Cycling. Miguel Mosca 00:22:13 Why is that? Michael Oghia 00:22:15 I ju I just, it's incredible. It's like the rush of riding in a car where you can just feel the wind in your face, but you're getting to where you need to go to, you're not using, um, any fossil fuel energy and you're exercising. That's like four positives right there in one. Miguel Mosca 00:22:35 Okay. Okay. Let's go to the next one. Heat pumps or district heating and cooling. Michael Oghia 00:22:45 <laugh> I would say district heating and cooling, because I think that, uh, that at scale you can probably have more sustainability, but, oh, that's a tough one. Why would you ask me that? <laugh> both. I want both <laugh> Miguel Mosca 00:23:00 Okay. Okay. Yeah. Like I like your answer. Tamlyn Shimizu 00:23:02 You have to choose <laugh>. Michael Oghia 00:23:03 Yeah. Fair enough. Miguel Mosca 00:23:04 Next question. Jeff Bezos or I Musk, Michael Oghia 00:23:09 Oh, neither. None of us should ever support these like billionaire space Cowboys who think they can just exploit everybody for their own gains, but maybe I'm being way too socialist. Tamlyn Shimizu 00:23:20 <laugh> Miguel Mosca 00:23:21 It's okay, too. Tamlyn Shimizu 00:23:22 You have to choose Michael, if you, if you have to choose one, the other one goes away, though. Michael Oghia 00:23:28 If I had to choose, I would choose, uh, Musk because I used to be quite the, you know, Musk follower, but I think maybe his money got to his head, or he just lost a lot of sleep over the past six years. And he's just kind of gone off the deep end for me. He used to be very inspirational to me though. Tamlyn Shimizu 00:23:47 I I'm with you on that one. <laugh> Miguel Mosca 00:23:50 I want express my opinion because I have to ask the next question. We are almost at the end, but sure. So past or future Michael Oghia 00:24:02 Future, because the past pass is over, you can't go back to it. We can study it. We can, we can reimagine it, but the future is what matters because everything today impacts tomorrow Miguel Mosca 00:24:17 Very wise. And this, the last one is especially tailored for you. So, right. Be great or Beirut. Michael Oghia 00:24:29 Are we talking about Beirut of today or Beirut of 10 years ago? Because if it's Beirut of 10 years ago, definitely Beirut, but if it's the Beirut of today, then definitely be great. Miguel Mosca 00:24:41 We, we understand the, the time, uh, differences. So, uh, we allow you this, this double double, double. Thank you. Double answer. Michael Oghia 00:24:47 Thank you. <affirmative> Tamlyn Shimizu 00:24:48 Yeah, thank you so much. And, um, I, I, I think that now we can continue on, I guess this is also what we touched on so much before that this definition of, you know, society and governance and technology combining, um, is it is quite differentiated and you can put, pull it apart in different ways. Right? Um, so this is a question that we like to ask every single person that comes on the podcast mm-hmm <affirmative> and each time we get a different answer, which is a fun part of it. So there's no wrong or right answers of course, but, uh, to you, uh, what is a smart city? Michael Oghia 00:25:25 Hmm. So before I answer this, so I just wanna preface it by letting you all know that I've been working in internet governance and internet policy for the past six years. So my answer might be a little bit more broad than most, but for instance, a smart city to me is, um, is kind of, um, it, it's a, <affirmative> a way of being it's, it's a way of existing specifically in a municipal setting that is using technology to the betterment of its citizens. Um, it is using technology to help make, um, the city itself more livable to make it more sustainable. But it's also one that respects citizens rights, citizens, privacy, it's one that coexist with security. And it's something I think that is solely resident and citizen driven, not purely profitable for companies or used in such a way to, um, let's say, um, deepen the, um, the status quo of those in power. So to, in other words, make their power more cemented. Tamlyn Shimizu 00:26:55 Yeah. Very nice. Miguel, do you also want to answer that question? Miguel Mosca 00:26:59 I, I, I fully, uh, agree with Michael in some answers might be more on point, but I think it's important to have the, the high level to the lower level overview. So meaning from the macro perspective to the micro one, because they are, they are connected. Of course. Tamlyn Shimizu 00:27:15 Great. Thank you. And so I want to thank you both for taking the time to talk to me today. Michael Oghia 00:27:22 It's it's been a pleasure. Thank you for hosting me and I, we could speak all day. I could go on about this. It's been a pleasure. Tamlyn Shimizu 00:27:29 Yeah. Thank you, Michael. And thanks, Miguel. Thank you all for listening. I'll see you at the next stop on the journey to a better urban life. Michael Oghia 00:27:40 You have to go out for a traditional balling you. That is always a good way to start your night and then to end with a lot Tamlyn Shimizu 00:27:49 <laugh> I've had that before, actually in Michael Oghia 00:27:51 Other, Tamlyn Shimizu 00:27:52 So Michael Oghia 00:27:53 You're halfway there. Tamlyn Shimizu 00:27:54 Yeah, halfway there.

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