The U.S. stands at an energy crossroads. With or without new direction from policymakers, huge sums will be invested in the electricity system as aging infrastructure is replaced and new infrastructure is built to meet our country’s growing energy needs. In the 11 states that comprise the Western
Johnson Controls is a sustainability veteran. Back in 1885 it invented the first electric room thermostat. These days it operates in 150 countries and employs 142,000 people whose main job is to create products, services and solutions to optimize energy and operational efficiencies of buildings.
The microgrid market today is in flux. Most projects being implemented around the world feature teams with a variety of players – large and small – each contributing specific components and services to pilot projects, the majority of them still considered to be in the R&D phase.
The lack of operating experience of
Government funding has played a key role in launching the microgrid market, especially at the federal government level. Yet there is, at present, few “microgrid” line items in most federal, state or local government budgets. In the Obama Administration’s ARRA stimulus package, there are categories for “customer-owned systems” and even “microgrids,” but these were never
No one would disagree that this is a good time to be in the energy efficiency business. Another report, this one out last week, signals just how good.
Conducted by Comverge, the survey of more than 100 US utilities found that 92% plan to increase their efficiency budgets by at least 10% in 2011. Comverge also found
Pike Research recently published its free (!) white paper Smart Grid: 10 Trends to Watch in 2011 and Beyond and have received some interesting feedback. Since most of this has been expressed privately, I thought I would aggregate comments on each trend and share it here.
No. 1 – Security Will Become the Top Smart Grid Concern. There was universal
Virtual power plants (VPPs) rely upon software systems to remotely and automatically dispatch and optimize generation or demand-side or storage resources in a single, secure web-connected system. In the U.S., VPPs not only deal with the supply side, but also help manage demand and ensure reliability of grid functions through demand response
The consumer face of the Smart Grid looks like you and me. It is tall and short, conservative and liberal, lazy and driven. In short, it is everyone, which means that it can be both random and ordered depending on changing conditions, geographic realities, and discordant behavioral patterns.
Capitalizing on Smart Grid opportunities in the residential consumer market means finding order and predictability across a wide range of variables: different ecosystems, temperature variation, number of people living under one roof, behavioral patterns, etc. Currently, data is measured home-to-home, which means that fine-grained details under the roof are usually unaccounted for.
If Internet companies and some utilities have their way, the smart grid will rely on the existing infrastructure of the information superhighway in order to function. They argue that by relying on existing standards like Internet Protocol (IP), the smart grid will grow faster and more organically than if utilities adopt an assortment of proprietary methods. Issues like security become easier to address too because the Internet manages exceptionally sensitive data quite well with existing technologies. To that end, the players dominating in the Internet arena including Google, Microsoft, and Cisco are all banking on the Internet’s role in the future of electricity management.
The US electrical grid is a century-old “machine” built for a singular purpose: to power the development and industrialization of the nation’s economy. It is designed to deliver electrons from centralized power producing plants through transmission wires to end consumers. This archaic, unidirectional architecture is unreliable, inefficient, and unsafe.
Using many of the same technologies and assumptions first implemented in the 19th century, today, the grid must keep up with rising demand which outstrips available generating capacity and technological advancements designed to make the grid “smarter“.