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Fresh news on smart grid, IoT and green technologies

Upstarts Upset the Energy Market

In June 2011, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s decision to phase out nuclear power turned the German energy market upside down. The market had long dominated by four major players – E.ON, RWE, Vattenfall and EnBW – but smaller businesses have shaken up the renewables market ever since.

Those changes can be seen throughout the countryside from roofs shiny with solar panels to towering wind turbines as energy production becomes more decentralized.

The shift has forced big players to adapt. E.ON and RWE’s spinoffs Uniper and Innogy add two new players in the rapidly expanding field of digital energy.

One such disruptor is Lichtblick, among Germany’s first green-energy electricity providers, launched 19 years ago and now, with 650,000 customers, a pioneer distributor of green energy. Its chief executive, Heiko von Tschischwitz, says the energy market is on the cusp of a revolution thanks to digitization. “The formal liberalization that we experienced in 1998 was nothing compared to what’s coming,” he said. “The era of simple energy provision is over.”

Lichtblick itself has to fight to stay ahead of the curve. Mr. von Tschischwitz is trying to work out how to connect solar roofs, mini cogeneration units, battery storage systems and electric cars to virtual power plants and energy storage systems – and also enable people to view how much power they use.

Energy providers indeed face a “digital shock,” said Jens Strüker, an academic specializing in energy management at the Fresenius University of Applied Sciences. “If the big energy providers don’t react now, they’ll be crowded out of the market,” he said.

All face the same challenge: to manage electricity generation and consumption and offer customers new services in a world in which nearly all electronic devices are connected to the internet, Mr. Strüker said. Soon, the power grid will connect to data networks and intelligent electricity meters will help to regulate consumption and production. With smart home technology, consumers will be able to regulate their energy consumption by remotely controlling outlets, thermostats and security systems, increasing energy efficiency. The dream is for entire cities with grids that intelligently manage electricity flow to match supply to demand.

More here.

 

It’s Been a Decade Since Google Jumped Into Energy. Is It Any Closer to a Moonshot?

It’s been 10 years since Google shifted some of its attention from bits and bytes toward the world of therms and electrons.

It started with a wide-ranging investment and R&D initiative, called RE<C, designed to make renewables cheaper than coal. That initiative was abandoned in 2011 after engineers realized they were tackling the wrong problems.

Today, new renewables are far more competitive than coal. But the economic shift didn’t play out in the way Google imagined.

In the decade since, Google has since dabbled in pretty much everything — power electronics, home energy analytics, smart thermostats, residential geothermal, flying wind, solar lead generation, autonomous cars, and direct corporate procurement.

What can we conclude about the company’s track record? And at a time of uncertainty in both venture capital and government support, is Google the best vessel for cleantech R&D?

More here.

 

Vehicle To Grid Plan Pays Off For Electric Car Drivers In Europe

In a vehicle to grid experiment involving 100 electric car and truck owners in Europe and Enel, one of Europe’s largest utility companies, the owner of the electric Nissans earned an average of $1,530 a year from the program. — more than the cost of charging the vehicles for a year’s worth of use. The test also uncovered something equally surprising — vehicle to grid schemes may actually slow the rate at which lithium ion batteries degrade in normal use. Cash back and lower degradation? That’s music to any electric car owner’s ears.

Vehicle To Grid

Let’s not get out ahead of the story, however. The vast majority of electric cars are not equipped to participate in vehicle to grid or V2G usage. They are made to take electricity in to charge the battery, not send it back to the grid. Making a car compatible for V2G use may cost more, cancelling out some of the possible savings.

At the end of a one year trial period, researchers studied the data and concluded that if V2G is controlled by a “smart grid algorithm that is designed to minimize battery degradation, an [electric car] connected to this smart grid system can accommodate the demand of the power network with an increased share of clean renewable energy, but more profoundly that the smart grid is able to extend the life of the EV battery beyond the case in which there is no V2G.”

Bloomberg New Energy Finance projects that the electricity consumption from EVs will rise from 6 terawatt-hours today to 1,800 terawatt-hours in 2040, or more than 40 percent of current U.S. electricity demand. Having all those cars connected during the majority of the day would permit grid operators to balance the electrical loads in the system, saving utility companies lots of money — money they would be willing to share with the owners of the cars making all this possible.

More here.

 

 

Hydrogen + Fuel Cells NORTH AMERICA at SPI 2017, Las Vegas

September 10-13, 2017
Mandalay Bay Convention Center
Las Vegas, NV, USA

Store Solar Energy – Make Hydrogen

  • Market leaders like ITM Power, Nel Hydrogen and Hydrogenics present the storage of renewable energy through electrolysis
  • Toyota, Honda and Hyundai will offer fuel cell cars for a test drive
  • Air Liquide and WEH Industries inform about hydrogen refueling
  • Ballard and SAFCell inform about their latest fuel cell technologies

One of the major topics of Hydrogen + Fuel Cells NORTH AMERICA will be the storage of renewable energies. Wind and solar energy can be stored through the production of hydrogen via water electrolysis. ITM Power, Nel Hydrogen and Hydrogenics will inform about their latest electrolyser technologies.

Test drive a fuel cell car!
All visitors of SPI 2017 get the chance to test drive the following fuel cell cars: Toyota Mirai, Honda Clarity and Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell. The test drive will be located in front of the exhibition hall, the cars will be featured by the California Fuel Cell Partnership.

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Stem and CPower to Combine Behind-the-Meter Batteries and Demand Response

Behind-the-meter batteries and demand response can add up to more than the sum of their parts, according to CPower and Stem.

On Tuesday, the demand response provider and the behind-the-meter battery startup announced they’re combining their technologies into an “integrated solution for managing electricity demand” for commercial, industrial and institutional customers, starting in California.

The new partnership is based on a simple set of premises. Batteries are fast and reliable energy resources for buildings looking to reduce demand charges or offer grid services, but expensive compared to the technology to control building HVAC systems, refrigerators, factory production equipment, and other energy-intensive loads. But these load control systems, while relatively cheap, are less flexible and fast-reacting than batteries, and limited by the fact that sometimes they simply can’t be turned off.

Combining the two in an integrated package, however, can harness the better qualities of each resource, and allow customers to tap a broader range of cost-reduction and revenue-generating capabilities, according to Jason Babik, CPower’s senior VP of business strategy and development.

“If you’re solving it all with a battery, it’s going to be an expensive solution. If you’re doing it all with curtailment, it’s going to be a potentially disruptive solution,” he said in an interview. But combining the two “can be really a ‘one plus one equals three’ type play, because you have a more dynamic resilient response to an event or a need.”

“We’re in the early days of the partnership, but our vision is that you can be switching between curtailment and batteries in a way that’s transparent to the customers — they’re not noticing that both are happening in an automated fashion,” he said.

More here.

 

Enel snags EnerNOC for $250 million

The rigidity of today’s electrical grid in the United States is a constant source of vexation for utilities, but that was before demand-response technology became more readily available. Enel Green Power North America is betting in a big way that demand-response software will play an ever-increasing role in grid flexibility as it evolves in the 21st century.

That’s why it invested $250 million in cash and stock when it purchased EnerNOC, one of the leading U.S. providers of demand demand response and energy services for utility, commercial, institutional and industrial customers.

Having the ability to ramp up or ramp down electricity use depending on the amount of demand at the time enables greater grid flexibility, stability and efficiency. In return, customers can get paid for their participation, depending on the regulatory framework available in their state or community. EnerNOC’s software solutions make the job easier for customers to be part of a demand-response solution.

More here.

 

Digital Platforms in the Energy Sector: Definition and First Applications

Integrating renewables into the electricity system is a challenging task. Currently, different concepts of how to do this are being discussed. In our last two posts we focussed on different concepts for regional flexibility markets in Europe and Germany. In addition, we raised the question whether the future of the distribution grid operators lies in platform businesses or basic asset ownership. In all our recent posts the discussion evolved around markets and platforms. Though these are two important topics, they are not the same. Therefore, in today’s post we will shed some light on platforms and their potential role in the energy sector.

What are platforms?

The term ‘platform’ is used to describe many different things. As Gawer (2014) pointed out, the term platform is used in a technological (a core technology in a modular architecture), an organizational (institutions that facilitate coordination between agents) and in an economical way. For now, let us focus on the last dimension of platforms. There are certain criteria that are used to define platforms from an economic perspective. On a general basis, platforms at least have to fulfil two criteria (cf. Rochet & Tirole 2003):

1.  A platform can be defined as an intermediary between different (at least two) users or user groups.
2.  A platform addresses network externalities: This means that the individual user of a platform gains more from this service (higher utility), the larger the number of total users of the platform. Cross-side externalities are in most cases positive, e.g. the higher the number of stores that accept a certain credit card, the higher the incentive for a consumer to use this credit card. Same-side externalities, on the other hand, occur on one side of the market, either positive or negative, e.g. the higher the number of app developers for a smart phone operation system, the higher the competition, which increases price competition.

More here.

10th Edition European Electricity Ancillary and Balancing Forum

25-27 September 2017
Barcelona, Spain

This marcus evans event will enable TSOs, DSOs  and regulators to discuss the practical challenges involved in implementing the new regulatory developments including the network code and balancing guidelines, and how cooperation between firms can help with this. This event will also look at recent developments in demand response and flexibility as well as grid storage solutions, and how renewable energy systems can be used efficiently to deal with the ever-present issue of their lack of reliability. By discussing the key issues of today and preparing for the future, individual firms, as well as the industry as a whole, will be able to proceed in the knowledge that everyone is moving forward together.

Attending this premier marcus evans conference will enable you to:

  • Determine what the strategies need to be in response to the latest regulatory expectations, such as the balancing guidelines, and hear what others have planned so far
  • Discover the latest developments in demand response and flexibility
  • Understand the state of play with grid storage: What can be done versus what is practical to do now
  • Benchmark the impact of renewables on ancillary services and grid balancing across the continent

Interested? If you feel that you are a good fit for this conference please visit the event website: https://goo.gl/2i3cTd

For more information simply send an email to melinih@marcusevanscy.com

How Utilities Can Avoid Complacency and Boost Customer Satisfaction

Steve Ballmer’s first reaction to the Apple iPhone was not his best moment.

During a TV appearance in 2007, the then-Microsoft CEO and current owner of the NBA’s Los Angeles Clippers, mocked the market potential of the iPhone. With a $500 price tag and no keyboard, the executive felt comfortable saying that Apple’s latest whiz-bang invention was more sizzle than substance.

We all know how that turned out. David Rowan, editor-at-large of Wired U.K., brought up that example at a conference about energy efficiency and the future utility model last year to warn against the perils of ignoring even the oddest-seeming innovation. “Crazy stuff is happening — mining asteroids, 3-D printing of cars, interacting with machines via virtual reality goggles,” Rowan told the audience at the CLEAResult Energy Forum in Austin, Texas. “How do you stay on top of all these changes? How do you change the way your organization thinks? You need an innovation culture.”

Rowan’s call for those working in the utility industry and the broader energy sector to be nimble and innovative is one of the nuggets included in the recently released report, Innovation Outlook: The 2017 State of Energy Efficiency. Geared primarily toward an audience of utility workers, the report’s findings are culled from conversations and speeches about topics ranging from electric vehicles and demand response to energy efficiency and distributed generation, all of which took place at the 2016 conference in Austin. The event and the report were spearheaded by CLEAResult, a consultancy that provides energy-efficiency guidance to utilities and others in the energy sector.

The need for the utility industry to evolve and embrace innovation is only accelerating. “I’ve been in the utility industry, the demand-side management industry for 10 years now,” said Colin Gibbs, CLEAResult’s director of business analytics and author of the report. “Ninety percent of the change has happened in the last 18 months. It has been rapid.”

More here.

 

Hydrogen + Fuel Cells NORTH AMERICA at SPI 2017, Las Vegas

SOLARPOWER International (SPI 2017)
September 10-13, 2017
Mandalay Bay Convention Center
Las Vegas, NV, USA

Connecting the solar industry with hydrogen technologies

  • Market leaders like ITM Power and Nel Hydrogen present the storage of renewable energy through electrolysis
  • Air Liquide and WEH Industries inform about hydrogen refueling
  • Confirmed registrations of 30 exhibitors, 70% sold floor space

One of the major topics of Hydrogen + Fuel Cells NORTH AMERICA will be the storage of renewable energies. Wind and solar energy can be stored through the production of hydrogen via water electrolysis. Electrolyser companies like ITM Power, Nel Hydrogen, Secure Supply and Giner inform about their latest developments.

Building up a hydrogen infrastructure

Air Liquide informs about the expansion of their hydrogen refueling station network in the US, allowing the use of hydrogen as a clean source for zeroemission fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs). The fueling nozzles will be presented by the market leader WEH Technologies.

Hydrogen compressed

PDC Machines presents SimpleFuelTM, a fully integrated hydrogen generation, compression, storage and dispensing appliance capable of delivering up to 5 kg/day of hydrogen to vehicles at pressures up to 700 bar. Several hydrogen compressor companies like Haskel, RIX Industries, Andreas Hofer and HydroPac will exhibit.

Hexagon Composites show high-pressure vessels to store natural gas and hydrogen for the use in mobile and stationary applications.

Components for fuel cells

A fuel cell is a device that combines hydrogen and oxygen to produce electricity, heat and water. Exhibitors like Aperam, borit, Graebener and Impact Coatings will inform about bipolar plates, which are main components of fuel cells.

Learn more in our forum

Exhibitors and leading industry experts will feature a comprehensive forum program, including company presentations and discussions. The connection between the hydrogen technology and solar industry will be explained daily by using an education exhibit.

Information about the fair

The topics of H2+FC NORTH AMERICA will include hydrogen generation, storage and transportation, fuel cell systems and applications, stationary-, automotive-, mobile fuel cells, special markets, components and supplying technology, fuel cell and battery testing. SPI 2017 is expecting 650 exhibitors and 18,000 visitors from across the solar industry and adjacent industry sectors. The Energy Storage International (ESI), with more than 115 exhibitors the largest energy storage event in North America, will be co-located with the SPI as well.

For more information on H2+FC NORTH AMERICA at SPI 2017, please visit www.h2fc-fair.com/usa

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