The naked engineer

Posted on 4 Apr 2013 by The Manufacturer

Dubious pay back ratios for green power investment shake the resolve of Hemlock Engineering’s leader. Our anonymous columnist observes his commitment wane.

Huge stink in the boardroom this morning. Apparently there was a galactic-sized malfunction of some equipment installed for a local client last month by our commercial food equipment division. Resulted in 40 tonnes of mozzarella turning green and slightly furry – so it wasn’t only a metaphorical stink. Our customer now has 40 tonnes of cheese trying to form its own escape committee which you can smell from four miles away.

Main purpose of the board meeting, apart from trying to find a way to appease our cheesed off customer, was to look at installing some environmentally cuddly onsite power generation capacity.

Apparently Sir Patrick has had his arm twisted by some bigwig from the Department for the Environment or whatever it’s called this week. He seems to have come over very green all of a sudden – very much like the mozzarella in fact.

Jimmy the Greek (FD) had returned from his Lambrusco-fuelled trip to Lanzarote for the meeting, looking like something the cat had dragged in, then thought better of and dragged out again. He lobbed a report on the table showing ROI figures for installing a wind turbine, PV (whatever that is) and a biomass boiler.

“Sorry to burst the biomass bubble Jimmy, but that would make the best case scenario for payback about half a century”

He’d taken enough time out from gloating over replays of the Wales-Scotland Six Nations game to work out that if we installed a biomass boiler to heat Hemlock HQ it will cost around a mil and a quarter and the government would encourage us to the tune of £4.85.

Sir Patrick’s face fell at this news.

“It could save us about £24k a year in running costs though,” said Jimmy, valiantly striving to find the up side against the odds.

“Sorry to burst the biomass bubble Jimmy, but that would make the best case scenario for payback about half a century,” I said, perhaps a little too scathingly bearing in mind Jimmy’s delicate condition.

“And that’s assuming the bits of smashed up MFI furniture and reject cricket bats we buy to feed into it don’t go up by 50,000% when everyone else jumps on the bandwagon.”

Jimmy’s not in a state to maintain optimism. Embracing negativity, he points out that to actually gain the tempting government incentive and cover the cost of one celebratory glass of merlot down Cavendish’s, we would have to jump through so many hoops that we’d all end up looking like circus lions.

HR director, Janice ‘ahems’ and casts us holier than though look. “Installing green energy capacity would do wonders for Hemlock’s image and workforce morale,” she says.

Not a winning argument for Sir P.

The meeting closes with a distinct shelving of Sir Patrick’s green phase. He exits with a blast of exhaust from his Aston’s quad tailpipes followed swiftly by huge quantities of CO2 created by flying first class to Monaco. Apparently he’s planning on bedding in early for next month’s Grand Prix. It’s going to take more than questionable government largess to get anything more than momentary idealism from Hemlock’s fearless leader.

As Sir Patrick headed for the fleshpots of the Mediterranean I wondered idly if 40 tonnes of rotting cheese could be used as fuel for a biomass boiler?

Any similarity of characters to persons living or dead is completely intentional.