September 28, 2012

CGI Meeting: Cooperation and Partnership Key to Sustainable Change

From September 23 to 25, Nick Sonntag, Westport Executive Vice President of Corporate Development and New Partnerships, attended the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) Annual Meeting to announce the Westport Commitment to Action.

Nick gives us his thoughts about this significant meeting of minds, and some of the highlights:

It was an amazing meeting and I felt truly privileged to be there. The exceptionally positive energy of the meeting, the high quality of the people attending and the vast range and scope of the commitments made by hundreds of organizations were all, in a word, 'astounding.’ President Clinton is an exceptional human being and is clearly using his remarkable network, charisma, intelligence and clarity of message to great advantage to mobilize change towards a sustainable future in all economic sectors, within all social groups and across all developed and developing economies.

It was an overwhelming three days with not a moment to spare for those who wanted to extract value from the presentations and available participants. CGI has a very clear focus on resolving poverty, assisting the underprivileged and promoting sustainable development. Between the annual meetings, there are a range of CGI forums covering topics from energy, technology, education, and communication, to share information and meet via conference call, and sometimes face to face.

This year’s theme was 'Design for Impact' and the workshops and panels concentrated on how to take specific projects up to scale to have a much larger impact as quickly as possible. You couldn’t help being impressed by what has been done within these commitments and the literally hundreds of thousands – if not millions – of people who have received some benefit from the projects since CGI began six years ago.

One of the most impressive was how Coca Cola worked with the government of Tanzania to effectively build an efficient supply chain (from scratch) to distribute critical medicines across the country. Did you know that Coca Cola has over 20 million 'official' points of sale globally that are visited at least once a week by a Coca Cola delivery service?

Another highlighted commitment was Proctor & Gamble, who are distributing their water purifying 'packets' globally at such a rate that they are committed to saving one life per hour due to drinking contaminated water for as long as P&G is in business. I couldn't help but relate and support these objectives, and be totally impressed with the range of commitments – money, people and facilities - being made by corporations, NGOs and governments.

I have been in the sustainability 'realm' for some time and what I saw here was a realization that sustainable change was not the result of a philanthropic contribution – although it can often be the trigger – but rather what is needed is a clear systems approach that leverages technologies, processes, policies, partners, money, etc. towards a sustainable outcome. The overriding mantra at the meeting was that through cooperation and partnership across all scales, sectors and groups, almost anything can be accomplished.

A very memorable meeting.

September 25, 2012

Telecom “Tower Power” in India Gets Natural Gas Boost from Westport

In July, we wrote about Westport’s participation in the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI). On September 24, to coincide with the CGI annual meeting in New York, Westport announced its Commitment to Action to CGI. Westport will apply its expertise and technology, in partnership with others, to develop on-site power for individual mobile phone towers in India.

The three-year project, labelled Tower Power: Helping Rural Communities Establish Clean Energy Solutions, will ultimately switch five towers to natural gas or other gaseous fuel. It is the vision of Development Alternatives, one of the project partners in India, to reduce emissions from mobile phone towers, which currently consume about 2 billion litres of diesel fuel per year and emit more than 6.5 tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2). Telecom towers are the largest consumers of diesel in India – more than railways.

Eighty-two percent of India’s existing 390,000 mobile phone towers are connected to the electrical grid; however, only 169,000 of those have reliable connections, causing telecom dependence on diesel-powered generators. With the telecom market in India growing to an estimated 500,000 towers and by 10 million customers per month (about 333,000 new customers each day!) by 2015, reliable power is essential.

Add to this is the fact that many villages near telecom towers are not on the grid at all. By generating power on site, the project team hopes that any residual electricity can be directed to areas that currently lack power.

There’s a clear opportunity for a cleaner solution - such as natural gas or biomass - to service the mobile phone towers and bring power to nearby people, while reducing levels of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The solution will involve developing a natural gas or biomass engine and fuel storage using available fuels, potentially pipeline gas to biofuels, depending on location and sources. An initial tower will be selected and four more will follow by 2015.

Westport is facilitator and a technology provider to this project, and will use its experience in engine technology and cryogenic storage to help design a solution for the telecom towers. Westport will recruit other partners and financial supporters to make this commitment a reality.

This specific use of natural gas power is new to Westport, but natural gas and other gaseous fuel engine technology is the core intellectual property of Westport. We have applied our knowledge for markets from oil-field power generation to pickup trucks to Class 8 trucks and beyond.

If successful, there’s potential to apply this option to other countries or regions where electrical grids are slow in development, unreliable or non-existent. There is the possibility for parts of Africa, Southeast Asia and perhaps China to apply this type of solution.

As part of the CGI efforts to tackle some of the world’s most pressing development issues, Westport was invited to make a commitment to improve life somewhere in the world. Applying core strengths to this challenging issue and partnering to create natural gas or biofuel engine-powered towers will provide a win to the local people, mobile phone users and environments of the tower locations in India. Westport and its employees win as well – through the satisfaction that so many improvements can be made from switching the tower power to natural gas or biofuel.

September 17, 2012

The Driver's Seat Twitter Campaign: Manoj

Our next contributor is Manoj S, based in Vancouver, Canada.

Manoj is responsible for creating and expanding Westport business in South Asia, particularly in India. His market creation and market development activities cover new technologies or new initiatives across all Westport business units, targeting potential opportunities in markets from automotive through to high-horsepower.

Fuelled with coffee and his favourite read, ­Harvard Business Review, Manoj often finds himself on a plane to, or staying in India (and we mean often – about 40 percent of his time)! He finds enjoyment and satisfaction, and great scope for creativity, in applying his knowledge and experience (much of it gained in India) to grow the Westport brand and business. Presenting solutions that make business sense, he says, but also make the world better with the advantages of cleaner fuel, is rewarding work.

Originally from India, his career there includes over a decade of experience at a huge multinational company where he was exposed to a lot of cross-functional activities and the pursuit of excellence in business. This, he says, “has trained me to seek what will make an impact on the business to take it to the next level,” and is highly relevant to his role at Westport.
When he’s not building relationships and seeking partnerships for Westport, Manoj is at home with his family, visiting Vancouver’s iconic Stanley Park or occasionally playing tennis.

Manoj claims good fortune is having a spouse who is an amazing cook of Indian cuisine, which is his favourite. He says she has great skill at creating Indian food without the typical characteristics of too much oil or spicy heat. Mexican cuisine is Manoj’s other favourite.

Other than his family, his choice of dinner companion, could it be anyone alive or dead, real or fictional, is President Barack Obama. This is simply because Manoj would like to meet him in person, ask him questions and hear his insights on life, leadership and business.

As mentioned, Westporters are taking turns in The Driver's Seat of our Twitter account (@WestportDotCom). To date we've heard from Nick SCaroline SJohn L & John HAstrid ZLance FMonica FFabioNicoleRonghuan, and Maureen.

September 10, 2012

Introducing Westport WatCH4 News!

As the leader in natural gas engines, Westport strives to be a key source of information on the topic. We already share news about alternative fuels, clean transportation technology, and sustainability through the Fuel for Thought blog, Twitter (@WestportDotCom), and also post articles that directly relate to our company and our industries. We want to make it easier for our followers to find all of this information in one place, so we’ve created the new weekly Westport WatCH4 News. Now you can receive all the latest industry and Westport information directly in your mailbox.
CH4 is the chemical formula for methane, the main component of natural gas. Westport WatCH4 News keeps an eye out for interesting and relevant news stories related to alternative fuels, clean transportation technology, and sustainability, and compiles them into a quick summary email, sent every Tuesday. If you’d like to subscribe, please click the Westport WatCH4 logo above or visit

September 3, 2012

The Driver's Seat Twitter Campaign: Maureen

As mentioned, Westporters are taking turns in The Driver's Seat of our Twitter account (@WestportDotCom). To date we've heard from Nick S, Caroline S, John L & John H, Astrid Z, Lance F, Monica F, Fabio, Nicole, and Ronghuan. Our next contributor is Maureen G, based in Vancouver.

Maureen is responsible for executive assistance to the CEO, CFO, EVP, VPs and the Board of Directors, as well as leading the office services team at Westport. In this role, Maureen finds herself in many places supporting the executives and the Board. She enjoys travelling and planning meetings around the world.

When not keeping our senior management informed and organized, Maureen enjoys travelling for pleasure too. Some of her favourite spots include Rome, Venice, London “and of course New York,” she says.

Maureen is fairly new to Twitter, using it mainly for following others so far, but she is on Facebook often (very often, she confesses).

Maureen’s indulgence is British Columbia wine, both red and white; one of her favourite wineries is Quinta Ferreira in Oliver, BC. She enjoys these with Italian or Greek cuisine – her favourites! If she could share just such a delicious meal with anyone, alive or dead, real or fictional, she would choose her parents, whom she lost long ago and misses terribly.

Mother of a 21-year-old daughter, she boasts that they “survived the teen years and are good friends now!” They even travelled to Europe together in April 2011 and ended the trip in London just in time for the Royal wedding.