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Fresh news on smart grid, IoT and green technologies

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

Europe’s Energy Union: 10 things we’ve learned

Late last month, the European Commission published a hefty set of documents setting out Europe’s direction of travel on energy and climate change policy, under the heading of the ‘Energy Union Package’. Here’s 10 things we’ve learned:

1) We’re getting out of fossil fuels (eventually)

The European Commission sets out an impressive vision for a “fundamental transformation of Europe’s energy system”, in which “we have to move away from an economy driven by fossil fuels … and outdated business models”. The Energy Union promises to be “climate friendly”, with Europe becoming “the world leader in renewable energy”. This is strong stuff for a normally conservative and understated institution.

2) But we’re still hooked on gas

This vision for getting Europe off of fossil fuels is undermined by a more immediate focus on securing access to ever-more supplies of (non-Russian) natural gas. The Commission promises to help finance new import pipelines and LNG terminals, participate in gas contract negotiations, and use its weight in international diplomacy to build relationships with gas producers and transit countries. However concerns have been raised that the EU is splashing out on expensive gas import infrastructure that will later become stranded. Europe has seen a 14% fall in EU gas demand since 2005 and consumption is expected to fall further as efficiency targets are met.

3) Europe’s energy markets are set for a major re-design

The Energy Union communication hints at the biggest shake-up to EU energy markets since the Third Energy Package was proposed in 2007. Since that point, there have been major changes to energy technologies (e.g. smart demand and cheap solar) and business models (e.g. the E.On de-merger). There have also been increasing conflicts between the EU’s single market aspirations and national market interventions. Expect a clampdown on national capacity mechanisms, new rules for renewable energy support and efforts to beef up EU energy regulators.

4) Efficiency is a fuel

There will be a “fundamental rethink of energy efficiency” in order to treat it as “an energy source in its own right”. The Commission proposes a radical new principle: energy efficiency and demand side response must compete on equal terms with generation capacity. This was a late addition to the text so details of how this will work in practice are still lacking – but it will certainly be one to watch.

More here.

EnerNOC plans to expand by focusing on software

isit EnerNOC Inc. chief executive Tim Healy in his Seaport perch overlooking Boston Harbor and the conversation will inevitably turn to his company’s future in energy software.

EnerNOC built a big business around what is known as “demand response,” a system that rewards customers for reducing electricity consumption during peak demand times. This is how EnerNOC gets most of its revenue. But Healy wants to talk about something different now: becoming a provider of energy-efficiency tools.

It is a vision that has led Healy on a shopping spree in which EnerNOC has spent more than $125 million to acquire five companies since the start of 2014, increasing the company’s workforce by 60 percent to more than 1,200 people. To keep up, he will add a floor this summer to the three-level headquarters in the 18-story One Marina Park Drive. As many as 600 people could work there a year from now, he said, up from nearly 490 on Jan. 1.

This pivot can’t come soon enough. EnerNOC’s overreliance on electric grid-related revenue became painfully clear on Feb. 26, when it warned Wall Street that its business could drop during 2015 by as much as 13 percent.

This was an unexpected shock for investors, who sent the company’s shares down by more than a third in the following few days. EnerNOC’s stock closed at $11.92 a share on Friday, 35 percent below its price before the revenue warning.

But to analysts who follow the company closely, this baptism by fire could hasten a transformation that needed to happen: Growing software products into a steady, significant stream of revenue.

EnerNOC’s software allows clients to, for example, quickly analyze and respond to energy waste throughout a portfolio of buildings and to combine billing in one central platform.

‘Customers are looking for an energy information platform to help them make sense of all the new choices they have.’ –Tim Healy, Chief executive of EnerNOC’

The market for energy management tools is wide open, said John Quealy, an equity analyst at the investment bank Canaccord Genuity’s Boston office who follows EnerNOC. Many businesses, he said, recognize they need to gain more control over their energy bills, especially during a time of rising electric rates.

More here.

Choosing the right tools for your energy conservation project

By Anthony Schoofs, CTO, Wattics
March 8, 2015

This post is a compact summary of data acquisition systems typically used by energy professionals for energy conservations projects. References have been added throughout to guide the reader to original and greater sources of information.

From generators to end-consumers, electricity passes through a network of high voltage lines and substations, where the electricity voltage is reduced and taken onwards through the distribution system to individual customers’ premises.

 

gridoverview

 

Nowadays, more and more energy applications require a combination of data acquisition systems for monitoring energy use within the end-user premises, in order to translate raw measurements into actionable, insightful information.

For example, ESCOs and facility managers require data to make the right decisions so as to develop effective strategies to reduce energy use and uncover operational and mechanical inefficiencies. Similarly, with multiple Utility-driven energy management solutions running concurrently within buildings, such as for automated equipment scheduling and demand response programs, measuring and verifying the savings achieved by each energy management solution is of utter importance for validating and delivering correctly monetary benefits to the end customer.

 

rawdata

 

Data availability is going to play a more important role in the near future, and choosing the right data acquisition solution for specific project requirements will guarantee the success of an energy conservation project. This article guides the reader through the range of data acquisition equipment typically used within commercial and industrial environments, and provides a go-to guide for energy professionals willing to quickly review viable options.

 

 

1. ELECTRICAL METERS

 

1.1 Electrical installations

Electricity supplied through the main distribution board of a building is typically distributed via individual circuits to other sub-boards located across the premises, which are in turn feeding other boards and end-loads such as AHUs, lighting units and appliances.

Such an electrical installation can be represented as a hierarchical tree, as illustrated in the figure below. Each electrical installation will generally be unique to a given building.

installation

Read the rest of this entry »

Why it’s so hard to monetize the distribution grid

Last Friday, New York regulators kicked off the implementation phase of their ambitious electric market reforms, issuing an order that designated utilities as Distributed System Platform (DSP) providers. That news, along with some recent grid edge scholarship, has meant that the distribution network has been in the headlines a lot lately. Whether it’s smart grid tech, distributed generation, or microgrids, a lot of the action in the utility sector these days is happening past the substation.

With all this new technology, regulators, researchers and power companies alike are trying to find ways to create a market on the distribution grid, so that all the devices and services that exist there can be bought, sold, and their values optimized. That basic idea is the underpinning of new regulatory regimes from New York’s REV to California’s Distribution Resource Plans.

On its face, it may seem like an easy task. But setting up a market on the distribution grid isn’t as easy as devising a framework and letting prices set themselves.

The reason? We don’t know how to value all the resources on the distribution grid yet. That was the key takeaway from the grid decentralization panel at the ARPA-E conference last month. After the discussion, Utility Dive got the chance to catch up with Doug Kim, director of advanced technology at Southern California Edison. He told us the nature of the resources on the distribution system makes it more difficult to assess their values.

“When you’re looking at very small size resources like DERs and you put them in the system on the distribution grid, depending on where you put it the value of that resource is going to be different,” Kim said.

More here.

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