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Fresh news on smart grid, IoT and green technologies

Exploiting Untapped Sources of Energy Information

Data is key to unlocking energy efficiency savings in commercial buildings. Yet, most energy management solutions cannot gather the amount and heterogeneity of data required while maintaining a reasonable payback period. One opportunity often neglected is whether buildings’ existing infrastructure could, in lieu, be exploited to retrieve streams of data, thereby precluding costly measurement devices and deployment burden.

Data is ubiquitous in commercial buildings, and although the data’s original data collection purpose may be irrelevant to energy use, its production and sole existence may intimately be related to an event that connects to a specific energy event. For instance, most data packets flowing across a LAN are transmitted from PC-class machines; as such, the capture of a network packet tells that a machine is powered on, and that a person might be using that machine and therefore be physically present within the building at the time the packet was transmitted. Using existing legacy data sources for a purpose other than for which it was originally provisioned is an opportunity that has as yet not been explored sufficiently.

This post presents primary findings gathered from a thorough exploration of data sources available in commercial buildings. Data sources with the potential to uncover a wide range of energy insights have been identified and are analysed. The impediments inherent to infrastructure reuse are also discussed.

More here.

Tool to help manufacturers select wireless network that’s right for them

Going wireless is appealing to a growing number of manufacturers. Using wireless sensor networks to monitor and control equipment and processes eliminates the costly labyrinth of dedicated cabling to hardwire devices, enables flexibility in organizing operations, and expands opportunities for keeping tabs on plant-floor conditions and performance.

But before making the leap, companies need to be certain that a candidate platform will reliably capture and communicate measurement data in harsh industrial environments with lots of sources of interference. Interrupted, delayed or incomplete hand-offs of critical data could be dangerous for workers and disastrous to production.

To help manufacturers make confident decisions, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has set out to develop best practice guidelines for evaluating wireless-sensor-network performance and selecting the option that best meets their requirements.

“Our goal is to develop a tool that will enable manufacturers and their technology suppliers to design, assess, select and deploy secure, integrated wireless platforms that perform dependably in factory conditions,” NIST’s Rick Candell said during this week’s International Instrumentation Symposium in Huntsville, Ala.

Candell, head of NIST’s Wireless Platforms for Smart Manufacturing project, noted that a variety of standards-based technologies have been adapted or developed to support industrial wireless applications. The guide will include benchmarking tests and metrics for comparing how well different technologies meet specific sets of requirements, he said.

NIST is in the early stages of commissioning a wireless network that will replicate a smart manufacturing environment. It will re-create conditions representative of a variety of industrial settings and support development of network-performance measurements and tests. The test bed also will be used to evaluate the usefulness of NIST network models and simulations.

To ensure that the test bed accurately reproduces the messy and challenging realities of a variety of manufacturing operations—from chemical processing to aerospace—the NIST team is making a special request. They are asking companies to open their plant doors so that the researchers can characterize conditions and factorssuch as heat, vibrations, reflections, interference and shielding obstacles that impact network performance.

More here.

Is Energy Efficiency Taking a Back Seat in Food and Beverage Manufacturing?

Sustainable manufacturing and green initiatives aside, energy efficiency is a tough sell. Plentiful oil and gas supplies coupled with moderate pricing don’t make it any easier. Nonetheless, utility companies and regulators continue to prod industrial users along the efficiency path, offering carrots to complement sticks to travel that route.

More than 350 rebate programs from utility companies, government agencies and other entities are available to U.S. manufacturers who upgrade to premium efficiency motors, ballparks John Malinowski, senior industry affairs manager at Baldor Electric Co., Fort Smith, Ark.

Rebates can shave a few months off ROI calculations, but efficiency ratings on today’s electric motors make the difference between premium and standard motors negligible. A small uptick in motor efficiency is less meaningful than reliability and productivity gains, and those are the kinds of benefits OEMs are trumpeting, not energy efficiency.

Energy consumption barely registers as a consideration when fans are installed to improve worker comfort; after all, a ceiling fan is a poor man’s air conditioner, and it sips electricity compared to a compressor.  Comfortable workers likely are more productive workers, although quantifying gains attributable to better air circulation is as difficult as calculating throughput improvements from better lighting.

More here.

Tesla + EnerNOC Collaborating On Deployment/Management Of Commercial + Industrial Energy Syorage Systems

Tesla has yet another new partner for its new energy storage business, as the manufacturing company and the energy intelligence software provider EnerNOC will be collaborating on the deployment + management of storage systems at a number of different commercial + industrial buildings, according to a recent press release.

The new partnership will allow businesses to monetize the batteries through demand charge management and demand response via the use of of EnerNOC’s software solutions, according to the companies. The collaboration will initially be based in California.

“By working together, EnerNOC and Tesla can help enterprises find new, innovative ways to save money and get paid for their operational flexibility,” stated Tim Healy, Chairman and CEO of EnerNOC. “Energy storage has great potential and is a natural fit with energy intelligence software. We are excited to explore the possibilities with Tesla.”

Reportedly, EnerNOC customer sites are already being outfitted with some of Tesla’s energy storage systems.

The Vice President of Construction and Maintenance at the Southern California supermarket chain Stater Brothers Markets, Scott Limbacher, commented on that: “Energy management today is more complicated than simply buying power from the utility. Innovative companies like Tesla give us new options that enable us to reduce our reliance on the grid when prices are high, and EnerNOC’s software gives us the visibility we need to make informed decisions about when to use these technologies and how to measure the impact they’re having on our business.”

More here.

Energy Investors Should Follow Elon Musk (Almost) Anywhere

The world now knows. The future will be powered by batteries. The recent announcement by Elon Musk of his Tesla MotorsTesla Powerwall has begun to focus attention on the potential of this technology to combine with distributed solar power generation, among other renewable technologies, to allow a carbon-less, or at least a less-carbon energy future, with not only Teslas on the road but also cars by Apple and Google.

Musk and his tech colleagues think big and think disruption, so don’t be surprised if this bet pays early and often. So, no surprise, I would put a buy and hold recommendation on Tesla, plus a basket of the other companies developing energy storage solutions. Not only is this the next big thing, it will likely be a lasting thing.

Not that oil is now over. Oil will be with us for a very long time. I “called the bottom” of the great over-hyped plunge of 2014/2015 and also predicted the current point of the recovery in this column. But we are at the dawn of Elon Musk’s future, so investors should follow his process.

What else besides batteries and electric cars? While you could consider following Musk’s “in real life” escape velocity play in SpaceX–with ethicists considering the moral implications of copulation on a permanent Mars base–a more down to earth investment strategy may be to simply follow the logical extension of the Powerwall business model. Battery storage will never reach its full potential until another technological innovation is widely adopted: smart grids.

There is nothing new about smart grids, which bring digital technology to the analog grid for real time controls of this now antiquated infrastructure, allowing for robust responses to changes in demand and supply resulting from both normal use patterns, as well as events such as outages from natural or unnatural disasters.

But the other thing that smart grids can do, and indeed are needed for, is to provide for the efficient management of a transmission system that allows for energy to flow in multiple directions, from and to points of use and generation, like a home or business that both consumes and produces energy by hosting rooftop solar panels. And does that without line loss that frustrates the point of the distributed generation. So Elon Musk’s batteries will not be saving the planet any time soon unless many of the largest global economies also start to build out smart grid systems.

We’ve been hearing about smart grid since the dawn of the Obama administration and the stimulus package. That was where some of that “shovel ready” money was supposed to go. The problem was the smart grid wasn’t quite yet shovel ready and much of the national grid is owned by private companies. But smart grid hasn’t gone away, and companies like Siemens, Qualcomm and Verizon have been working away at it.

More here.

Demand Response Markets in Europe Begin to Blossom

The opportunities for demand response in Europe are growing — and REstore is raising money to grow with them.

On Thursday, the Antwerp, Belgium-based startup announced a €7 million ($7.5 million) Series C capital round, to expand operations from its home country and the U.K. to France and Germany, and to beef up its data analysis and control platform for the industrial and commercial customers it’s tapping for flexible electricity load.

In the past four years, REstore has grown from a few megawatts of industrial load to more than 1 gigawatt of peak load under management, serving more than 80 industrial customers including ArcelorMittal, Praxair, Sappi and Barclays. Its revenues grew 700 percent from 2013 to 2014, and since the end of last year, it’s increased its share of “95 percent reliable” load from 250 megawatts to 350 megawatts — a measure of how much can offer equal or better certainty than natural-gas-fired power plants of being there for grid needs.

REstore’s new round, led by existing investors LRM, Axe Investments, Ark Angel Fund and other individuals, brings its total capital raised to €11 million ($12.5 million), according to Thursday’s announcement. REstore wants to grow its always-available portfolio to more than 2 gigawatts by 2018, and “that’s steep growth, and that requires some capital,” co-CEO Jan-Willem Rombouts said in a Thursday interview.

It’s also seeking to expand to “a European-wide scale,” he said, to match an expanding set of opportunities for turning flexible loads like steel smelters, freezers, pumps, fans and manufacturing lines into grid resources.

Europe’s demand response needs aren’t driven by summertime peak loads as they are in the United States. Europe does have some wintertime electric heating loads — but the bigger drivers are the system-wide effects of the continent’s growing share of intermittent wind and solar power, REstore co-founder Pieter-Jan Mermans said.

“Our power plants are increasingly being mothballed. That’s a trend that’s crystal clear, and will not be reversed any time soon,” he said. “Second, the penetration of intermittent renewables continues to grow, which means real-time volatility on the grid.”

More here.

Will public cloud kill the data centre?

Technology experts send mixed messages. Some will state the data centre is dead due to businesses adopting cloud technology en masse, while research will show data centre growth for colocation has never been so fast and the industry is on an exponential upward curve due to the cloud.

In practice, neither view is correct; the information and communication industries will just find a new balance, as they always have when faced with disruptive technology.

Remote hosting is nothing new

There has been huge growth in the cloud recently despite the concept of remote hosting having been around for at least fifty years. This is due to the advent of fibre optic cables impacting the speed and cost of moving data between user premises and colocated cloud operations.

Even the government is in on the act with the SuperConnected Cities project, which will eventually extend fibre coverage throughout the UK. Connectivity will become a utility and a right, just as electricity is now, and the data centre industry must be prepared.

The other big change is virtualisation. Just ten years ago, almost every organisation hosted its data operations in-house, while only a small amount colocated them externally.

> See also: Software-defined storage is driving data centre infrastructure innovation

Usually the servers were sized for the heaviest possible workload, so they frequently ran under-loaded. On some estimates, most servers in an enterprise data centre ran at a 10-15% loading. Servers were rarely energy efficient, with most consuming a roughly constant amount of electrical power and cooling capacity, whether carrying out business critical activity or idling.

Virtualisation was available, but, for many organisations, the workload efficiencies offered by expensive hypervisors were interesting but not cost-effective.

The combination of fast, cheap fibre and large scale virtualisation changed things. Once it became possible to combine servers with other users, virtualisation became the cost-effective business choice. Physical servers could be colocated in a data centre, optimised for the job, with the economies of scale implied by the concentration of resources. Once marketers understood the idea, the cloud was born.

More here.

EnerNOC Reports Results for First Quarter of 2015

EnerNOC, Inc. (Nasdaq:ENOC), a leading provider of energy intelligence software (EIS), today announced results for the first quarter ended March 31, 2015.

“In the first quarter, we advanced our leadership position in the energy intelligence software (EIS) industry through significant growth in our ARR and the formation of new partnerships,” said Tim Healy, Chairman and CEO of EnerNOC. “We are driving improved performance across the key metrics we use to track the success of our SaaS offerings. We are especially pleased with our enterprise gross margin, which was approximately 60% in the first quarter and has increased significantly since we began selling our platform solution last year.”

Summary Financial Results
In Thousands, Except Per Share Amounts
Q1 2015 Q1 2014
Revenue $50,551 $52,508
Net Loss
GAAP ($50,301) ($30,413)
Non-GAAP(1) ($39,600) ($23,357)
Net Loss Per Basic and Diluted Share
GAAP ($1.80) ($1.09)
Non-GAAP(1) ($1.41) ($0.84)
Cash Flow Used in Operations ($18,452) ($11,566)
Free Cash Flow(1) ($23,658) ($17,679)
Adjusted EBITDA(1) ($30,012) ($18,424)
(1) Refer to “Statement of Use of Non-GAAP Measures” for non-GAAP definitions and refer to the financial schedules attached to this press release for a reconciliation of non-GAAP financial measures to the most directly comparable GAAP financial measures.

More here.

Water industry highlights hacking and customer engagement as its main challenge in smart metering

SMi’s 4th annual Smart Water Systems conference will strengthen skills in water management whilst keeping attendees at the forefront of technological breakthroughs to adapt to the growing need for water efficiency. The agenda features over 19 case study driven presentations; speakers representing leading utilities, industry and government bodies; 2 interactive workshops plus over 3 hours of networking.

In the run up to the show, SMi Group spoke to some of its key speakers about the conference taking place on 29th and 30th April and about the smart water industry.

Systems security, technology and customer engagement were highlighted as some of the main challenges facing smart water metering.

Andrew Tucker, Water Efficiency Manager from Thames Water, who will be will be providing unique insights on customer engagement, said:

“We all want smart IT perfection.  The other is to fully understand and focus on the amount and quality of engagement and education that is delivered with smarts.  Smart IT is only successful if our audience understands it and utilises it.  Let’s help them understand their water use first, then aim to intelligently work with them to improve their efficiency.”

Mike Piccalo, Director of Industrial Security from Waterfall, a leading provider of strong network security products, commented:

“The biggest concern I have is the dramatic increase in the attack surface. Everyone from hacktivists to pilferers to “hobbyists” have physical access to the meters. In spite of our best anti-tampering efforts, common wisdom in the cyber community is that any CPU we can touch, we can hack. There’s a lot of people within touching distance of our new metering infrastructures, and those infrastructures are generally all connected directly or indirectly to our safety-critical and reliability-critical control systems.”

Erik Oostermeyer, (Smart Water for Europe) SW4EU Co-ordinator from Vitens said:

“Europe has around 3.5 million km of water network. The performance demands on this network are increasing and the network is ageing and whilst circa. € 20 billion/year is being invested for rehabilitation, ensuring a reliable supply of wholesome water to customers will continue to become increasingly challenging. There is an urgent need for new technologies and techniques to meet this challenge but their development and uptake faces obstacles.”

The full interviews are available online in the event downloads page.

Thames Water, Waterfall Security and Vitens will be joined on the speaker panel by OFWAT, Jersey Water, Energy Saving Trust, Scottish Water plus many more.

For further information or to download a brochure, visit http://www.smart-water-systems.com

Those who have confirmed attendance at Smart Water Systems 2015 include:

Aguas De Cascais Sa, Anglian Water Services Limited, Aqualogy UK, ARAD, Brookfield Utilities, Consumer Council for Water, Energy Saving Trust, Envisager, Frost & Sullivan, gemserv ltd, Hagihon Ltd, Hera Bologna Srl, Jersey Water, Nexus Water, Ofwat Uk, Scottish Water Solutions, Severn Trent Water, South Staffs Water, Southern Water plc, Statkraft Energi AS, Technolog Ltd, Thames Water, Tynemarch Systems Ltd, Vandcenter Syd A/S, Veolia Environmental Services, ViaSat, Vitens, Water Loss Research and Analysis Ltd, Waterfall Security Solutions, Wessex Water, plus many more…


SMi’s 4th annual conference:
Smart Water Systems
29-30 April 2015
Marriott Regents Park Hotel, London UK
www.smart-water-systems.com

5th Smart Communications & Technology Forum – 11 June 2015, Warsaw (Poland)

We cordially invite you to participate in the 5th edition of the internationalSmart Communications & Technology Forum” which will be held on 11 June 2015 in Warsaw.  During the previous four editions we hosted over 850 experts in the area of Smart Meters and Smart Grid from all over Europe.

The other confirmed speakers in the 5th edition include representative of: Stockholm Royal Seaport, Fortum – Sweden,  RWE Deutschland AG-Germany, Institute of Radioelectronics WUT – Poland, Smart Grid Department of Energy Regulatory Office – Poland, TAURON Dystrybucja S.A.- Poland, the Israeli Smart Energy Association (ISEA)- Israel.

The participant to the Forum will be shown the state of deployment of Smart solutions in Poland, and compare it with the international experience. The upcoming 5th edition will include an extended formula. Apart from two discussion panels, there will also be two separate rooms with different topical groups:  Smart Technology, Modern Utility

Some of the most important topics during the 4th edition will be:

  • Regulatory framework – how does Poland compare with global leaders?
  • Collecting and managing data, security issues
  • Profitability of investments – the real costs of implementations
  • Plans of companies and the functioning of deployed systems in Poland
  • Pilot projects and commercial deployments around the World
  • Cooperation of URE (Energy Regulation Office) with TSO/DSO – what solutions are best?
  • The technological innovation in AMR / AMI / MDM / DAS / DSR / DMS / WAMS
  • Analysis, rapports, and international experience supported by case studies

Forum’s nature is the conference and exhibition, so our guests have the opportunity to see the wide range of the leading suppliers of smart technologies from Poland and foreign entities. We are expecting 250 guests, among whom will be staff of  DSO/TSO companies, representatives of state institutions and non-governmental organizations, scientists, researchers and suppliers of products and solutions. Take advantage of our experience and meet new business partners.

We would like to invite you to the partnership and/or participation. See you in Warsaw!

For more details please visit:

http://cbepolska.pl/en/v-smart-communications-and-technology-forum.html

Contact details:

tel/fax: +48 22 82 77 123
e-mail: biuro@cbepolska.pl

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