It all began with the War of the Currents…

24/01/2020

Today, people greatly appreciate having electrical energy available at the flip of a switch, seemingly at any time and for any occasion. But where does electricity actually come from? The answer most people would give you is: “from the wall socket, of course”. So does this automatically settle the question of security of supply? More on this later.

If we compare the history of electric current with the 75 years of the history of Camille Bauer Metrawatt AG, it is easy to see how they were interlinked at certain times in the course of their development. Why is that?

It all began with the War of the Currents – an economic dispute about a technical standard

It was around 1890 when the so-called War of the Currents started in the USA. At that time, the question was whether the direct current favoured by Thomas Alva Edison (1847-1931) or the alternating current promoted by Nicola Tesla (1856-1943) and financially supported by George Westinghouse (1846-1914), was the more suitable technology for supplying the United States of America with electrical energy over large areas and constructing power grids. Because of Westinghouse’s market dominance at that time compared to Edison General Electric (called General Electric from 1890 on), it soon became clear that the alternating voltage invented by Nicola Tesla was rapidly gaining the upper hand. This was not least because its approximately 25% lower transmission losses weighed unquestionably in its favour. Soon afterward, came the breakthrough for alternating voltage as the means of transmitting electrical energy using. Initially, the main target application was electric lighting, which to be spurred on by the invention of the incandescent lamp by Edison. The reasons for this were logical. Westinghouse was initially a lighting manufacturing company and wanted to secure as great a market share as possible.

As developments continued, it is no surprise that already by 1891, in Germany for example, the first long-distance transmission of electrical energy was put into operation, over a distance of more than 170 km from Lauffen am Neckar to Frankfurt am Main. It was a technological breakthrough using three-phase current technology. However, this has by no means been the end of the story for direct current. Not least because of digitalization, electromobility, decentralized energy supplies, etc., DC voltage has experienced a full-blown renaissance and now is treated almost as a brand-new topic.

The Camille Bauer story.
The foundation of the Camille Bauer company dates back to 1900, immediately after the War of the Currents just described, at a time when electricity was rapidly gaining in importance. At the turn of the century, the Camille Bauer company, named after its founder Camille Bauer-Judlin, began importing measuring instruments for the trendy new phenomenon called “electricity” into Switzerland for sale to the local market. Some years later, in 1906, Dr. Siegfried Guggenheimer (1875 – 1938), formerly a research scientist for Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen (1845 – 1923) and who in 1901, became the first winner of the Nobel Prize for physics, founded what was a start-up company in Nuremberg, Germany, trading under his own name. The company was engaged in the production and sale of electrical measuring instruments. However, due to pressure from the Nazis because Dr. Guggenheimer was of Jewish descent, he had to rename the company in 1933, creating Metrawatt AG.

Four technological segments.

Four technological segments.

In 1919, a man by the name of Paul Gossen entered the picture. He was so dissatisfied with his employment with Dr. Guggenheimer that he founded his own company in Erlangen, near Nuremberg, and for decades the two rivals were continuously in fierce competition with one another. In 1944, towards the end of the Second World War, Camille Bauer could see that its importing business had virtually come to a standstill. All the factories of its suppliers, which were mainly in Germany (for example Hartmann & Braun, Voigt & Haeffner, Lahmeyer, etc.), had been converted to supplying materials for the war. At this point, a decision had to be made quickly. Camille Bauer’s original trading company located in Basel (CH), undertook a courageous transformation. In order to survive, it turned itself into a manufacturing company. In a first step, the recently formed manufacturing company Matter, Patocchi & Co. AG in Wohlen (CH) was taken over, in order to be get the business up and running quickly with the necessary operating resources at their disposal. Thus the Swiss manufacturing base in Wohlen in the canton of Aargau was born.

The story does not end there. In 1979, Camille Bauer was taken over by Röchling a family-owned company in Mannheim, Germany. At that time, Röchling wanted to quit the iron and steel business and enter the field of I&C technology. Later, in 1993, Gossen in Erlangen and Metrawatt in Nuremberg were reunited in a single company, after Röchling became owner of the Gossen holding company as a result of the acquisition of the Bergmann Group from Siemens in 1989, and Metrawatt was acquired from ABB in 1992. At the same time, Camille Bauer’s German sales operation in Frankfurt-Dreieich also became a part of the company. Today the companies operate globally and successfully under the umbrella brand of GMC-I (Gossen Metrawatt Camille-Bauer-Instruments).

A new era.
The physics of electric current have not changed over the course of time. However, business conditions have changed drastically, especially over the last 5-10 years. Catch phrases such as electricity free market, collective self-consumption, renewable energy sources, PV, wind power, climate targets, reduction of CO2 emissions, e-mobility, battery storage, Tesla, smart meters, digitalization, cyber security, network quality, etc. are all areas of interest for both people and companies. And last but not least, with today’s protest demonstrations, climate change has become a political issue. We will have to see what results from this. At the very least, the catch phrases mentioned above are perfect for developing scenarios for electricity supply security. And it really is the case that the traditional electricity infrastructure, which is often as old as Camille Bauer Metrawatt itself, was not designed for the new types of energy behaviour, either those on the consumer side or the decentralised feed-in side. As a result, it is ever more important to have increasing numbers of intelligent systems which need to work from basic data obtained from precise measurements in order to avoid outages, blackouts and resulting damage.

The overall diversity of these new clusters of topics has prompted Camille Bauer Metrawatt AG to once more face the challenges with courage and above all to do so in an innovative and productive way. In this spirit, Camille Bauer Metrawatt AG develops, produces and distributes its product range globally in 4 technological segments.

These are:
(1) Measurement & Display,
(2) Power Quality,
(3) Control & Monitoring,
(4) Software, Systems and Solutions.

Through its expert staff, modern tools and external partners Camille Bauer Metrawatt is able, for example, to analyse power quality and detect power quality problems. In addition, the Camille Bauer Metrawatt Academy, recently founded in 2019, puts its focus on knowledge transfer by experienced lecturers, with the latest and most important topics as its main priority. Furthermore, we keep in very close contact with customers, authorities, associations, specialist committees, educational institutions, practice-oriented experts and the scientific community in order to continually provide the requisite solutions to the market and interested parties.

#Camille_Bauer_Metrawatt #PAuto @irishpwrprocess


Understanding the psychology of climate change scepticism

14/04/2010

Ian Hamilton, Technical Director of Human Engineering, Lloyd’s Register Group

Rarely before has political opinion been so unified on one specific environmental issue… the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen was a failure.


Ian Hamilton, Technical Director of Human Engineering, the human factors and ergonomics consultancy of the Lloyd’s Register Group. Ian is a Chartered Psychologist who believes that psychology can help us to understand climate change scepticism.

About Lloyd’s Register
Lloyd’s Register Quality Assurance (LRQA) is a member of the Lloyd’s Register Group. Lloyd’s Register is an independent risk management organisation that works to help improve its clients’ quality, safety, environmental and organisation performance throughout the world, because life matters.
“Lloyd’s Register stands apart: independent, objective, experienced and uncompromising in our commitment to help clients produce an overall positive impact on society and the environment.”

Human Engineering is one of the world’s leading human factors and ergonomics consultancies, with offices located throughout the world. The company’s human factors specialists (psychologists and ergonomists) understand people, their physical attributes and their behaviour, and these skills are employed to support the design of equipment and systems to improve safety, health and performance.

As politicians seek to apportion blame for the summit’s inability to reach a binding agreement on emissions reduction, observers should look beyond the politicians – global climate change scepticism could have been the greatest barrier to success.

According to The (London) Times only 41% of people in Britain think that climate change is largely man-made, and even more worryingly, only a quarter of those surveyed think it is a serious problem. The newspaper suggests that this demonstrates a failure on the part of politicians to persuade the public, but do politicians manipulate public sentiment or merely reflect it?

Recently, Bjorn Lomborg, The ‘sceptical environmentalist’ wrote in The Spectator that even the environmentally friendly Australians rate the problem as less serious and pressing than they had previously. Indeed their new opposition leader Tony Abbott has been very out-spoken in opposition to climate change action.

Surprisingly, in the notably sceptical United States, despite the urgings of many high profile deniers such as Sarah Palin, as many as one third of Americans think that humans have made a contribution to climate change. This is fewer than in Britain, but not by much. So why do a majority refuse to accept the overwhelming evidence that climate change is happening? (See Elizabeth Kolbert, Field Notes from a Catastrophe: Climate change – Is time running out? published by Bloomsbury in 2006.) And why do so many people prefer to believe that humans are blameless?

Simplistically, by rejecting the notion of man-made climate change, an individual may feel absolved of responsibility. If he or she sees climate change as a myth, or even if they accept it but regard it as a natural change, they can argue that there is nothing to be done.

People in the West seem to regard their use of energy as an entitlement to continue with business as usual, rather than accepting a responsibility to conserve. The consumptive practices of people in our society lies at the root of carbon emissions. Businesses will always act to meet market demands, and politicians seldom actually influence opinion; they merely represent what they hope will be the views of their constituents and if levels of climate change scepticism are running high, it would be unrealistic to expect our political leaders to reach agreements that would disenchant their domestic voters.

If we want to see real change in emissions levels, we will have to influence the minds and deeds of voters.

In Copenhagen, much of the debate centred on financial instruments and emissions targets that would have enormous financial implications. At the same time, proponents of technological solutions, such as Bjorn Lomborg, argued for investment in environmental technology. However, it will be difficult for either or both of these solutions to succeed without the hearts and minds of the majority of voters.

Professor David Uzzell (Psychologists argue behaviour change can help halt climate change) speaking at a special event on climate change hosted by the British Psychological Society said that: “Neither technological fixes nor financial instruments alone will suffice. Even when these can play a role, their effectiveness is usually mediated by the way the public understands, interprets, engages with or responds to such actions.”

People cause emissions through their insatiable use of energy, but it is important to appreciate that energy consumption is essential to life as we know it and people will have to want to change rather than having change forced upon them. But how can that be achieved? Surely people read the papers; they watch the news; hasn’t the message been delivered clearly enough already? So maybe clarity is not the only criterion.

The Lloyd’s Register Group has built an unparalleled worldwide reputation for helping organisations to reduce risks and protect people and assets. In order to achieve this, it has been necessary to develop a deep understanding of how humans behave and the insight that this provides can help us to understand climate change scepticism and thereby to find ways to deal with it.

Psychology has a great deal to offer in terms of understanding how and why people think and behave the way they do. It has taught us that behaviour is motivated and influenced by our core beliefs and attitudes. In fact the success of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (Stephen Briers, Brilliant Cognitive Behavioural Therapy: How to use CBT to improve your mind and your life, published by Prentice Hall in 2009.) rests on the very principles that express how our attitudes and perceptions give rise to thoughts and emotional responses. Thoughts cause emotions and emotions cause thoughts. What this tells us is that behaviour will not change unless we accept the rationale for change at the level of our core beliefs and in a way that allows our emotional reactions to be consistent with these beliefs.

Core beliefs are not simply rational, evidence-based concepts. They are a mixture of attitudes and emotions that are usually reinforced by a subjective and convenient interpretation of the ‘facts’.

The healthy mind needs core beliefs; they anchor our personality and guide our behaviour. When there is a deviation between core beliefs and behaviour we can experience stress and anxiety. If unchecked this can lead to depression and other forms of mental ill health. In fact there are inbuilt defence mechanisms to nudge us back and to keep behaviour and beliefs aligned.

Cognitive dissonance arises when we have conflicts between thoughts and behaviour. This is a feeling of unease about the inconsistency, and it can be experienced as anxiety, anger, guilt, or even shame. Such negative emotions are unpleasant and so there is an automatic motivation to reduce them. Take a simple, everyday example: You buy something that you believe to be a bargain only to discover that you have paid too much. As a rational person you don’t want to think you have been misled or swindled, so you seek to diminish the feelings of foolishness or annoyance by creating a rationale for the decision: the shop has better after-sales service, or the sales person was attractive, etc. That way you can acknowledge the ‘mistake’ but justify it in terms that allow your self esteem to remain intact.

By accepting the reality of man-made climate change we might argue that a rational person will logically feel compelled to do something to lessen the problem. But do what? Recycle? Cycle to work? Turn off the lights or the central heating? Make young children walk to school? All of these options and others are possible and easy to do, however they may have consequences for our everyday life that involve increased effort, stress or inconvenience. So, we may perceive these activities negatively and feel that the situation is unfair if we accept our green responsibilities and those around us continue to ignore them. As David Uzzell says, “…we can’t expect people to change their behaviour without changing the conditions that influence behaviour.”

We are all governed by our sense of identity and our desire for a certain lifestyle. If we expect people collectively to change to a more sustainable form of living we need to help them by making the arguments connect with their motivations and sense of self. The conditions for behavioural influence are strongly affected by the emotional salience of arguments.

Some of the resistance to climate change arguments arises from the fact that much of the information people receive comes from a media perceived to be alarmist and politicians who are distrusted. In addition, people perceive the risks to be distant in time and in place – change will take decades and if it does come, it will only affect other countries. Local impacts should be emphasised more strongly. In addition, the perception of the effects of climate change is also affected by our belief in the impact of action; people fail to see how local action can help with a global problem. Most people see governments and others as more responsible for dealing with the consequences of climate change and many adopt a subjective position, somewhat selfishly refusing to take action until other people do.

Perhaps the most significant reason for the denial of man-made climate change is that the arguments for it have less emotional salience than the arguments against.

The arguments for man-made climate change are typically presented in the statistical and qualified language of science. This may be technically correct but lacks emotional impact and may not be accessible to all. Scientists do not, generally, resort to scare tactics; in contrast the arguments of denial are charged with emotion. They often include unfounded claims such as the ‘greenies’ want to stop you having fun in your SUV, or green taxes will lead to greater unemployment.  The arguments against man-made climate change also exploit in-group/out-group prejudices.  Action on climate change is portrayed as ‘lefty’, radical and reactionary.  Most Britons are (small ‘c’) conservatives who prefer compromise and moderation rather than major change.  They also seize on any equivocation in the scientific message (such as the recent email leaks) to demonstrate the ‘weakness’ of the scientific case. So it is easy to see why the case for denial appears to be winning.

Climate change scepticism is emotionally attractive; if there is no climate change or if human behaviour is not involved, then current lifestyles can be maintained free from guilt.

It is necessary to connect with the personally emotive aspects of the arguments in order to help people to accept personal responsibility for action on environmental issues.

If psychology and a deeper understanding of human behaviour and emotions are employed in the promulgation of messages for positive action to mitigate climate change, then acceptance of the need for action could become the majority view.

If the sceptics become the minority, the work of the politicians will be greatly simplified and they will become empowered to make the decisions that are necessary to prevent serious climate change and the Copenhagen Summit may, in the future, be regarded as a success.