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26th November 2014

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Nicola Martin

A round up of news from the Met Office, BSI, the Green Investment Bank and the UK Energy Research Centre.

When size does matter

The Met Office is to build a £97 million supercomputer to support its weather forecasts and climate predictions. The business department says the computer will be 13 times more powerful than the one used now by the Met Office.

It will be able to perform more than 16,000 trillion calculations per second and allow higher resolution models to be created. For example, applying very high-resolution models could better determine the risk and timing of fog over airports. Improved modelling will also allow scientists to assess the specific regional impacts of climate change, such as floods, droughts and heatwaves.

Rob Varley, chief executive at the Met Office, said the computer would lead to a “step change” in weather forecasting and climate prediction. “The new supercomputer, together with improved observations, science and modelling, will deliver better forecasts and advice to support UK business, the public and government. It will help to make the UK more resilient to high-impact weather and other environmental risks.” The first phase will be operational in September 2015 and the system will reach full capacity in 2017.

Supply chain standard

BSI has unveiled a supply chain information standard for suppliers and buyers at organisations of all sizes. PAS 7000, supply chain risk management – supplier pre-qualification, addresses product, process and behavioural criteria for supplier pre-qualification.

BSI says the standard will provide companies with a uniform set of common information requirements, reducing duplication of effort in completing tender forms and aiding procurement by bringing consistency to the supplier base. PAS 7000 does this by creating a model of governance, risk and compliance information for buyers to assist them to pre-qualify suppliers and confirm their intention and ability, and adhere to key compliance requirements.

For further information, and to download the standard for free, click here.

GIB funds datacentre

The UK Green Investment Bank (GIB) is backing its first project in the financial services sector. A combined cooling and power system will be installed in a London datacentre operated by financial group Citi, together with energy-efficient cooling units.

The system will generate 71% of the electricity needed to power the datacentre, cutting running costs and greenhouse-gas emissions by reducing energy consumption by 10%. The project will be paid for out of the energy cost savings achieved without upfront capital expenditure by Citi. GIB is investing £2.6 million in the project, which will be matched by private sector investment.

Globally, the IT industry is the second most energy-intensive sector behind aviation; the UK’s datacentre industry is estimated to require 3GW of energy. GIB also announced a £200m lending programme for UK community-scale renewable energy projects.

Scant shale gas returns

A sovereign wealth fund is to be set up using revenues from shale gas extraction, the government has announced. The fund will be established when commercial production of shale gas begins and will benefit the whole country, said energy secretary Ed Davey.

The announcement came as new research questioned the potential of shale gas to strengthen UK energy security. The UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC) said shale gas is “unlikely to be of sufficient scale to reduce UK import dependence or gas prices”.

The research found that further gas use will be needed to replace coal and complement the increases in low-carbon energy; however, this should form part of a short-term strategy over the next two decades, said Dr Christophe McGlade, who led the modelling work.

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