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Fresh news on smart grid and green technologies

DC Circuit Court’s Stand on FERC 745 Dumbs Down the Smart Grid

On May 23, a three-judge panel from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit vacated FERC Order 745, the regulation issued by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission that calls for electrical grid operators to pay the market price, known as the “locational marginal price,” to demand response resources that curtail their energy consumption in the real-time or day-ahead energy markets.

The evolving energy industry formally voiced its opposition to the U.S. Court of Appeals’ decision, with FERC officially asking that the ruling be reversed. Several states, a number of innovative energy companies, many large business entities, and PJM — the world’s largest electric grid operator — also joined FERC in seeking a reversal of the D.C. Circuit Court opinion. Unfortunately, in a very terse rejection, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals denied the requests to reconsider its May opinion. It’s not hyperbole to say that these actions could have significant and dire consequences on the United States’ energy initiatives and conservation goals. Simply put, the D.C. Circuit Court’s rulings will result in our nation’s evolving smart grid becoming dumber.

Demand response relieves strains placed on the electrical grid by curtailing energy usage during periods of peak demand. This is a highly valuable resource. By helping to balance supply and demand, demand response drives down energy prices, contributes to the stability of the grid, and reduces our reliance on “peaker” power plants, which are notoriously energy inefficient and costly facilities. Through demand response programs, electric utilities are able to offer financial incentives to customers and then curtail their energy usage in order to maintain grid stability. Demand response provides the greatest financial incentive for individuals and organizations to participate in energy markets, allowing them to manage the demand side of the supply/demand relationship. This approach has worked for decades.

Most importantly, demand response is the market tool that allows evolving technologies to be compensated by market-based forces at market-based rates in energy markets. Energy storage, for example, isn’t compensated for just sitting on the side of a building. That storage device must provide a service (a response) to the market and provide that response when called upon, and the storage device is then compensated for providing the response.

Demand response is also evolving into more of an operational resource that can be used to integrate renewable resources (rooftop solar, wind, and others) into the grid and otherwise modify electricity demand when needed, and it provides a market-based compensation mechanism for those services. It is a comprehensive and valuable resource available in the markets today, enhancing the value of smart grid investments.

The major problem with the D.C. Circuit’s ruling is that in order for any business or household to actively participate in energy markets and help balance supply and demand, there needs to be an incentive for them to be flexible with their energy usage. The D.C. Circuit has invalidated that incentive. Why would anybody embrace demand response if one of the major motivating factors — economic compensation — is removed?

More here.

QualityLogic Announces Cloud-Based Test System for OpenADR Products

QualityLogic Inc. (http://www.qualitylogic.com), the developer of the OpenADR Alliance Certification Test Harness, today announced the Cloud-Based Test System for OpenADR Virtual End Nodes (VENs) or clients, which will provide users with access to a Cloud server implementation of a certified Virtual Top Node (VTN). The system uses an OpenADR Alliance certified open source VTN released by the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) to serve as a reference for testing Virtual End Nodes (VENs), as a platform for running small scale pilots, or as a learning tool to increase understanding of the OpenADR technology.

The OpenADR standard facilitates sending and receiving demand response (DR) signals from a utility or independent system operator to electric customers. OpenADR signals are transmitted by VTN servers to end devices or other intermediate servers. A VEN is typically a client, such as an energy management system, a thermostat or other end device that accepts the OpenADR signal from a VTN.

Those deploying OpenADR-certified products have been seeking an easy and fast method of configuring and executing interoperability tests between VEN products and a reference VTN implementation. The new Cloud-based test system addresses this need and complements the certification of products by the OpenADR Alliance (http://www.openadr.org). The cloud-based test system enables the development of interoperability tests mirroring specific deployment scenarios that can be run prior to VENs being deployed in the field.

More here.

UK will miss 2020 renewable energy targets

The European Commission has identified 14 European Union member states that will fail to meet their 20% renewable energy targets by 2020 based on current progress.

The EU Tracking Roadmap released by the Keep on Track! monitoring body warned that Belgium, the Czech Republic, Spain, France, Greece, Hungary, Luxembourg, Latvia, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, and the UK are all likely to miss their 2020 renewable energy targets.

There is also uncertainty whether Germany, Finland, Ireland, and Slovakia will meet their targets, while Austria, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Italy, Latvia, Romania and Sweden are expected to achieve their targets by the 2020 deadline.

The report suggests recommendations to help remove barriers that are preventing the deployment of renewable energy systems (RES). This includes the removal of administrative barriers, and to “ensure a predictable and stable legislative framework for RES at the national level and in particular to avoid any retroactive changes to existing support schemes.”

However, it has been acknowledged that previous legislative frameworks, such as the newly adopted State aid guidelines for environmental protection and energy, have in fact been limiting the member states to support RES schemes that have been proven to be effective.

Meanwhile, a YouGov poll has revealed that young people are more in favour of government investment in renewables than fracking for shale.

The survey revealed that 18-24-year-olds who were aware of fracking wanted the government to develop other sources of energy in the UK, with 44% backing solar as one of the technologies they most favoured, 41% for wind and 38% for tidal power.

More here.

Light and Landis+Gyr unveil largest smart grid partnership in South America

R$ 750 million contract to improve the efficiency and reliability of Rio de Janeiro state grid

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, October 10: Brazilian electricity utility Light today announced the formal agreement of the largest smart grid project in South American history, in partnership with global energy management pioneer Landis+Gyr. Valued at approximately R$750 million[1], the five year contract covers the supply, implementation, operation and maintenance of Landis+Gyr’s best in class Gridstream® smart grid solution. The collaboration also includes deployment of 1.1 million endpoints, comprised of advance SGP+M anti-tampering meters and automation of power vaults and reclosers.

With over R$ 400 million (over €132 million) investment in its distribution system last year alone, the contract is part of Light’s ongoing effort to improve the efficiency and reliability of its electricity grid. The new intelligent, Gridstream® network offers improved measurement and automated management functions on a single secure platform, and will also facilitate adoption of electric vehicles and wind and solar micro-generation technologies.

As a result of the project Light will be able to take advantage of enhanced monitoring and control points throughout its network, helping to reduce commercial losses. In the future the utility also hopes to provide its customers with greater pricing options and more information on their energy consumption patterns, helping them to manage their usage more efficiently.

“The goal of Light is to provide an intelligent electricity network to 1.6 million consumers, equivalent to around 40% of our total customer by 2018,” said Paulo Roberto Pinto, President of Light.

Marcelo Machado, General Director of Landis+Gyr South America said, “As the first major South American deployment of a smart grid and smart metering system this is a landmark announcement, which will demonstrate to utilities and consumers firsthand the tangible cost, safety and user-experience benefits that come with smart energy.

“We are delighted to be partnering with a company of the caliber of Light on a project that we believe will be groundbreaking for the Brazilian energy industry,” stated Machado. “This is the first step in an ambitious expansion plan to grow Landis+Gyr’s reach across South America.”

Having manufactured meters in Brazil since 1994, Landis+Gyr today employs more than 450 people at a state of the art facility in Curitiba. The business already has the capacity to produce over 3 million meters a year on-site and plans to substantially expand its operations as the South American smart grid market develops.

The partnership with Light is the latest in a string of major contract wins for Landis+Gyr. Since the start of 2013 the company has secured the two largest deployments in industry history with British Gas and Tokyo Electric Power Company, also signing major contracts with Salt River Project, Ameren and most recently, ERDF’s Linky deployment project. Frost & Sullivan’s latest research determined that Landis+Gyr had 44% of the 2013 global AMI meter market, excluding China.

Andreas Umbach President and CEO of Landis+Gyr commented, “Our partnership with Light is hugely significant for Landis+Gyr and caps an extremely positive eighteen months for the business. In that time we have won major contracts in Europe, North America, Asia and now South America, including  the two largest deployments in industry history. We are extremely proud of the trust and confidence utilities around the world continue to place in Landis+Gyr.” Read the rest of this entry »

UK Smart Grid Project Releases Important New Data on Consumer Energy Consumption

New data showing the consumption and generation patterns of more than 12,000 UK electricity consumers has been published by a leading smart grid project – the Customer-Led Network Revolution (CLNR).

Domestic and business customers were monitored over a two-year period to produce industry-leading research into current, emerging and possible future electricity load and generation patterns.

Thousands of the customers taking part in the project had smart meters, which provide accurate information on electricity demand and generation activity every 30 minutes.

Many of the customers monitored had solar panels, heat pumps and electric vehicle charging points, providing important new data on the impact of these new low-carbon loads on local electricity networks.

The CLNR project is also investigating whether customers can be more flexible with when and how they use energy, scheduling routine household tasks like laundry and cooking outside the 4-8pm period of peak demand for electricity, for example. If customers are willing to be flexible, it could provide a cost-effective way to manage future energy challenges.

The new data is available to download on the project’s website http://www.networkrevolution.co.uk and the learning is also being shared with all GB electricity network operators to help find cost-effective ways to support the UK’s transition to a low carbon economy.

Preston Foster from Northern Powergrid, the electricity distribution network operator leading the project, said: “These latest results from the CLNR project provide a comprehensive suite of up-to-date data relating to different electricity customer profiles in the UK.

“The emergence of new low-carbon loads has required network operators to re-evaluate the design and operation of our networks to ensure we can continue to provide a safe and secure supply of electricity.

“We also recognise that the way people consume energy is changing, with more people working from home, ever-changing household structures and the popularity of new entertainment and Internet enabled devices, such as PCs, laptops, tablets, games consoles and smart TVs.

“We’re exceptionally proud to make these results available to everyone and our intention is that this data will be used to help improve network efficiency and support the uptake of low carbon technologies without the need for large-scale upgrades to network infrastructure.”

The CLNR has also actively trialled new commercial arrangements and interventions with domestic and small business customers. The new data includes results from the project’s time of use tariff trials, where customers were incentivised to use electricity outside of the 4-8pm peak and automated schemes with solar PV owners.

The learning from these trials, together with qualitative research conducted by the University of Durham, is helping uncover the extent to which customers will accept new propositions for flexibility, including restricted hours tariffs to direct control.

For more information about the project or to view the reports, visit http://www.networkrevolution.co.uk.

More here.

Cisco, Acer, MediaTek Join Intel, Dell on IoT Standards Group

More than two dozen companies join the OIC, while another IoT consortium, the Thread Group, opens up to new members.

Cisco Systems, Acer and MediaTek are among the more than two dozen tech vendors and system makers that are joining the Open Interconnect Consortium, a group launched in July with the goal of creating an open specification for interoperability in the Internet of things.

The new companies on Oct. 2 joined founding members Dell, Intel, Samsung, Amtel and Wind River in the Open Interconnect Consortium (IOC), one of several industry groups working to drive interoperability to enable the tens of billions of smart devices expected by the end of the decade to communicate with each other. The OIC’s news of the new members came a day after another of those consortiums, the Thread Group, announced it is now accepting members.

The Thread Group also was launched in July by the likes of ARM, Samsung, Freescale and Google’s Nest Labs business, with the goal of developing and establishing Thread as an IP wireless networking protocol for connecting a range of smart home appliances and devices to the Internet and each other.

Other groups include the AllSeen Alliance—which is based on the AllJoyn standard that was developed by Qualcomm engineers—and the Industrial Internet Consortium, which is more focused on smart business machines in the Internet of things (IoT).

More here.

Getting Ready to Start Saving Energy in 5 Steps

By Anthony Schoofs, CTO, Wattics
October 8, 2014

Facility managers and energy consultants will all agree that energy management solutions are of great value for discovering energy saving opportunities unique to their organisation.

One important step that is often overlooked is what must be done prior to engaging and selecting a vendor, in order to prevent delays and estimate expected savings. Wattics has dealt with a wide variety of organisations in the past, and we have compiled a step-by-step guide to get you ready to start saving energy.

1. Get management support

Management support will get your purchase order signed off once the right energy management solution has been identified. No support from the start will guarantee a delay in assigning a budget, and will often lead to orders being cancelled. Some of the questions below might help you to identify if your management is fully supportive, and what you need to be doing to get them on your side:

Portrait of business executives clapping

  • Does energy expenditure represent a large part of your direct costs?
  • Does your management recognise increasing energy bills as a major issue?
  • Does your budget allow for an energy management solution?
  • Does the decision maker know about your plans to get an energy management solution?
  • Have energy saving initiatives been requested by your management?
  • Have energy saving projects been green lit by management before?

 

2. Identify the real money-saving opportunity

Have you analysed your electricity bills recently, are your costs increasing and have you spotted any signs of abnormal consumption? Identifying early the need to manage energy better will help you assess the gains and payback you are likely to obtain with an energy management solution. Don’t forget that savings on energy costs are pure profit, e.g. if your company works on a 10% profit margin, reducing your energy costs by €10,000 is similar to making an additional €100,000 turnover.

opportunity

As a start, you may investigate what your major energy consumers are, whether it is your HVAC system, your production lines, refrigeration, lighting, etc. If you already have a few meters you can start recording meter readings for the various areas monitored and compare the kWh consumption over different periods. Your company might well have contracted an energy consultant in the past so any historical energy audit reports will be helpful in highlighting where savings are most likely to be achieved. These snapshots of your organisation’s energy use will help you understand what areas and equipment will need to be continuously monitored in order to discover signs of inefficient use and adjust your load demand for savings.

3. Make sure your electrical installation is up to date

Frequently upgraded electrical wiring often leads to confusion and changes to labelling, making their monitoring difficult. Make sure that your installation is up to the necessary standard and checked by a qualified electrician.

circuits

The first thing to establish is whether the circuits of your electrical installation are labeled, and more importantly, correctly labeled. The existence of recent electrical wiring sheets is a good sign that your installation has been well documented. They will also provide you with information about the overall supply tree, starting with the main incomer. Circuit diagrams are very useful for selecting which circuits and boards to monitor. They will generally provide breaker amperage information, which is extremely valuable for pricing and sizing current transformers used for monitoring. If your organisation has on-site electricians, you may get them to do some labeling work to get your installation ready.

4. Identify your requirements

Depending on the nature of your organisation, some unique requirements may need to be catered for by any energy management solution. A number of examples are given below:

requirements-list

Electrical disruption - Installation of metering equipment necessitates the wiring of circuit breakers to feed in the meters, and the clamping of current transformers to electrical circuits within the distribution board. Although these procedures are short, they may require temporary shutdown of the electrical distribution boards, which could potentially affect production. There is therefore a need to investigate when distribution boards can be switched off, whether it can happen anytime during the day, only overnight, at week-end, or during scheduled maintenance dates. You can then assess any potential installation encumbrance, and possibly use scheduled shutdown periods to have spare circuit breakers wired in anticipation of future expansion needs e.g. for an energy management system.

Authorisations - Another important point is whether your business requires special authorisation from top management or other departments to get near the electrical supply. For instance, data centres are environments where the relationship between Facility and IT departments is often conflicting, the former trying to optimise facility operation and energy use, and the latter focusing on guaranteeing best performance and reliability of data retrieval. Electrical work on facility equipment may temporarily have an effect business operations and authorisations from management and IT departments will generally be needed before any work can proceed.

Data Security policy - Each organisation’ security policy will need to be assessed beforehand if the company deals with sensitive information, such as banks and other financial organisations. Internet LAN data networks are generally fully restricted and you will need to ensure the vendors energy management solutions’ security measures are up to your organisation standards.

5. Engage your staff

The final and possibly most important consideration is identifying early who is going to engage with the energy management solution once it is in place. While energy management solutions are invaluable to discover energy saving opportunities, the savings will only be achieved if somebody analyses such opportunities and implements energy saving measures. Investing in an energy management solution must come with a team of people ready to engage and commit to realise the savings.

mgmtsupport2

Some solutions will give you the right tools to facilitate engagement and reduce the time spent managing energy. For example, Wattics has developed a unique software technology that self-learns the operation of monitored circuits based on a pattern analysis of energy use and automatically notifies you whenever abnormal consumption is discovered. All this is based on innovative signal analysis we have developed and runs without any configuration.

With Wattics you will not miss an opportunity to save energy. Get in touch now at wattics.com, we are excited to provide our technology and expertise to help your business.

North American Distributed Energy Resource Software Market to Reach $110M in 2018

The proliferation of distributed generation (DG) is beginning to take a toll on utilities in high-penetration markets such as Hawaii, California and Germany. To cope with the intermittent nature of these assets and optimize their performance, companies have developed a new class of software called distributed energy resource management systems, or DERMS.

In a new report, Distributed Energy Resource Management Systems 2014: Technologies, Deployments and Opportunities, GTM Research forecasts the annual North American DERMS software market to more than double by 2018 to $110 million. Grid operators’ need for visibility and enhanced control of DG and demand response will drive adoption over the coming years along the West Coast and Northeast, as well as in states with high levels of wind power generation.

FIGURE: North American DERMS Annual Spending, 2011-2018

Source: Distributed Energy Resource Management Systems 2014

DERMS software functionality can vary, but systems typically focus on the monitoring, aggregating and dispatching of distributed energy resources (DERs) to offset variable generation intermittency and enable and manage market participation.

“The DERMS market is still nascent, defined by a high degree of customization,” said report author and GTM Research senior analyst Omar Saadeh. “We anticipate increased adoption of distributed energy resources on the medium- and low-voltage grid to drive demand for DERMS software, subsequently leading to increased solution standardization, more defined capabilities, and lower overall costs.”

More here.

Bitcoin Could Transform Internet of Things into Vast Data Marketplace

As sportswear giant Nike expands its wearable technology applications, it will need more data to feed its gadgets and software.

To do that will be a simple matter in the future. A Nike executive will simply pull up a list of sensors operated by a private weather station, selecting the ones from which she would like to buy data.

With a click, the executive will pay individual sensors – perhaps thermostats mounted in a Central Park pathway particularly favoured by joggers – for their data, using bitcoin.

The weather sensors will be just one part of a future market filled with data collected by machines on the ‘Internet of Things’. The only difference would be that humans will now be able to pay the machines directly for their work, in bitcoin.

Turning sensors into data-hawkers

That’s the scenario described in a new paper by two researchers in Switzerland, titled, When Your Sensor Earns Money: Exchanging Data for Cash with Bitcoin. The paper was presented at UbiComp, an annual conference on ‘ubiquitous and pervasive’ computing organised by the Association for Computing Machinery. The event was held in Seattle last month.

The paper sketches a theoretical framework for sensors to interact with the bitcoin block chain and to receive payments in exchange for their data. This would solve the current problem of growing but silo-ed sensor networks whose owners have no incentive to share their data, the paper says. The authors write:

“There is no way for third parties to leverage today’s sensor deployments considerably. [...] Attaching a bitcoin address to a sensor could empower the sensor immediately to take part in a worldwide data market.”

The paper’s authors are Dominic Wörner and Thomas von Bomhard, researchers at the Bosch Internet of Things and Services Lab at the University of St. Gallen.

More here.

IPKeys to Provide Energy Demand Response Aggregation Services

IPKeys, announced today its formal entry into the Energy Demand Aggregation Market with the establishment of the wholly owned subsidiary, IPKeys Power Partners, and the consummation of the acquisition of U.S.-based North America Power Partners (NAPP). The acquisition will enable the deployment of IPKeys’ advanced energy technology solutions to a broad range of utility customers. IPKeys Power Partners was also accepted as a member of PJM Interconnection, assuming NAPP’s procured capacity in PJM and NAPP’s demand response (DR) contracts in Southern California Edison and Pacific Gas and Electric territories.

“We are delighted to join forces with Laurie Wiegand-Jackson’s NAPP organization,” said Robert Nawy, Managing Director & CFO, IPKeys. Mr. Nawy continued, “The coming together of our organizations will ultimately benefit consumers with greater choice and economic incentives for wise energy consumption and efficiency by providing consumers with access to the Energy Interop Server and System (EISS™) technologies we have been developing for the past five years for suppliers and manufacturers.”

Laurie Wiegand-Jackson noted, “We are pleased to be joining the IPKeys organization. By combining the market operations and DR expertise of NAPP with the advanced technology and development capabilities of IPKeys, we are positioned to be a significant contributor to the multi billion-dollar Smart Grid market. This acquisition provides greater value to our customers while addressing the need for improved flexibility, speed and reliability of demand management for utilities and power grid operators.”

More here.

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