Category Archives: Sustainabilty

Natural Environment, Well-Being, Compliance, Beyond Compliance, Equilibrium, Beyond Equilibrium

Fixed Costs of the Grid … 55%?

CREDIT: http://www.edisonfoundation.net/iee/Documents/IEE_ValueofGridtoDGCustomers_Sept2013.pdf

“Distributed generation” (DG) is what the electric utility industry calls solar panels, wind turbines, etc.

The article points out what is well-known: even with aggressive use of solar, any DG customer still needs the grid ….. at least this is true until a reasonable cost methodology for storing electricity at the point of generation comes on-line (at which time perhaps a true “off-grid” location is possible.

So …. for a DG customer …. the grid becomes a back-up, a source of power when the sun does not shine, the wind does not blow, etc.

So the fairness question is: should a DG customer pay for their fair share of the grid? Asked this way, the answer is obvious: yes. Just like people pay for insurance, in that same way should people be asked to pay for the cost of the grid.

Unfortunately, these costs are astronomical. This paper claims that they are 55% of total costs!

“In this example, the typical residential customer consumes, on average, about 1000 kWh per month and pays an average monthly bill of about $110 (based on EIA data). About half of that bill (i.e., $60 per month) covers charges related to the non-energy services provided by the grid….”

Batteries Update

New York Times article on big batteriesP

Notes from the article: Susan Kennedy is the former state utility regulator knows a lot about this. She now runs and energy stored start up.

AES has the contract. This is one of three major installations in Southern California.

This one is 130 miles south east of Aliso Canyon, the site of the major gas leak in 2015.

The second is installation is in Escondido, California, 30 miles north of San Diego. It will be the largest of its kind in the world.

The third is being built by Tesla – for southern California Edison – near Chino, California.

AES has two executives that drove the project since 12 2006. Chris Shelton and John Zahurancik. Their inspiration came from a purse festers paper the predicted the future dominated by electric cars. When Park, they could be connected to the grid so that their batteries could act as storage devices to help balance electricity demand.

They are buying the batteries that they are installing from manufacturers like Samsung, LG, and Panasonic.

Engie Takes Majority Stake in Green Charge Network

CREDIT: https://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/behind-the-meter-battery-acquisition-engie-takes-majority-stake-in-green-ch

Behind-the-Meter Battery Acquisition: Engie Takes Majority Stake in Green Charge Networks

The first big acquisition in the space puts a big balance sheet behind the startup’s storage tech as it faces rivals like Stem and Tesla.
by Jeff St. John
May 10, 2016

Green Charge Networks, one of the country’s pioneers in behind-the-meter batteries, has just been taken over by France’s Engie. The energy giant, formerly known as GDF Suez, announced Tuesday that it has acquired an 80 percent stake in the Santa Clara, Calif.-based startup, and plans to put its building energy storage and battery-solar expertise to work for its commercial, industrial and public energy services customers.

Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed. Green Charge has previously raised $56 million from K Road DG in 2014, and an undisclosed amount from angel investors including ChargePoint founder Richard Lowenthal in its early days in New York City.

Green Charge CEO Vic Shaw wouldn’t say how much Engie spent to take Green Charge under its wing, but insisted that “investors definitely made money” on the deal. The company got its start deploying its battery and control systems in 7-Eleven stores and rental car lots in New York City under an $18 million Department of Energy grant, which helped it reach scale without too much capital, he noted.

Green Charge has also lined up $50 million in non-recourse debt financing from Ares for new projects, which will remain intact under Engie’s ownership, he said. But with the deep pockets of a multinational energy services company behind it, he’s expecting a lot more growth.

“Engie does a little bit of everything — or a lot of everything,” he said. “They have 150,000 employees worldwide, and I think they’re in fact the world’s largest provider of energy efficiency services. They have a footprint in every state in the U.S. and in most countries around the world.”

The companies were introduced through Engie subsidiaries Ecova and OpTerra Energy Services, which do work with the same kind of commercial and industrial clients that Green Charge does, he said. “Those entities provide different services than Green Charge Networks does,” largely focused on reducing waste and optimizing energy use, in terms of the kilowatt-hours of energy consumed.

Energy storage, by contrast, focuses on reducing the demand side of the energy equation, by injecting stored power to avoid spikes in grid power consumption at any one period in time. That can help reduce demand charges, a portion of the utility bill that’s invisible to residential customers, but can add up to nearly half of a commercial or industrial customer’s costs in high-priced states like California and New York.

“On that kilowatt-hours side of the business, most of the low-hanging fruit is gone,” Shao said. “The next frontier is on the kilowatt side, on the power side — and offering energy storage.”

As for how Engie plans to put Green Charge’s technology to use, Frank Demaille, CEO of the company’s North American business, said it will be deploying it in standalone storage and storage-plus-solar configurations for clients in the United States.
But the “acquisition will also reinforce Engie’s strengths and skills in the activities of decentralized energy management, off-grid solutions, and power reliability, which are identified as areas for growth for the company around the world,” he said.

As Shao said, “A lot of what Engie is acquiring here is the very sophisticated software and analytics [and] operational capabilities of our energy storage system.” Green Charge has about 48 megawatt-hours of storage deployed or under construction, and has “real-time communications and monitoring, and analytics for charge-discharge activity being done every couple of seconds.” While opportunities to put aggregated behind-the-meter capacity to use for grid or utility needs are still rare, Green Charge has aggregated a portion of its portfolio in California to serve the state’s new demand response auction mechanism (DRAM) program, and it is looking at more opportunities, he said.

This is one of the first big acquisitions in the behind-the-meter battery space, at least in the United States. Green Charge competes against rival California startup Stem, which has raised about $75 million from investors including Angeleno Group, Iberdrola (Inversiones Financieras Perseo), GE Ventures, Constellation New Energy, and Total Energy Ventures, and has some $135 million in non-recourse debt project financing.

It also competes against SolarCity and Tesla, which have deployed dozens of megawatts of behind-the-meter storage projects in California, and which also have plans to deploy a lot more this year. Newer entrants include as Gexpro, the electrical equipment distributor that is selling a C&I storage system using software from startup Geli, batteries from LG Chem and inverters from Ideal Power.  Another rival in the field, Coda Energy, closed its doors in December. 

GRID

Bill Gates recommended GRID as one of his five favorite books in 2016. Here is what Business Insider said:

“‘The Grid: The Fraying Wires Between Americans and Our Energy Future’ by Gretchen Bakke

“The Grid” is a perfect example of how Bill Gates thinks about book genres the way Netflix thinks about TV and movies.

“This book, about our aging electrical grid, fits in one of my favorite genres: ‘Books About Mundane Stuff That Are Actually Fascinating,'” he writes.

Growing up in the Seattle area, Gates’ first job was writing software for a company that provided energy to the Pacific Northwest. He learned just how vital power grids are to everyday life, and “The Grid” serves as an important reminder that they really are engineering marvels.

“I think you would also come to see why modernizing the grid is so complex,” he writes, “and so critical for building our clean-energy future.”

My son received it as a Christmas gift, and stayed up all night finishing it. I ordered it the same day he told me.

Finally, a readable history of energy. Why does our grid look as it does?

The incredible role that Jimmy Carter played in the creation of the Department of Energy, the passage of two major pieces of legislation.
1. National Energy Act
2. PURPA

GRID traces the emergence of the California wind energy industry. According to the author, the industry emerged in spite of bad technology. The growth traced instead to enormous tax credits. The Federal tax credit was 25%, and California doubled it to 50%. Today Texas and California are by far the largest producers of wind energy in the US>

GRID traces energy from Thomas Edison to Thomas Unsall, who was his personal secretary. It was Unsall that formulated, and then implemented, an ambitious plan to centralize the nations power grid. Until he took over in Chicago, no one could figure out how to create, through government regulation and clever pricing, what today is an effective monopoly. What makes this even more remarkable: the monopolies are largely for-profit.

GRID traces the emergence of energy policy, beginning with President Jimmy Carter.

It includes the Energy Policy Act of 1978 and the Energy Policy Act of 1982.

Postscript: I just read the book a second time, and was stuck by its notes at the end, its index, and its general comprehensiveness.

I guess, for me, the big ideas in this book can be boiled down as follows:

LOAD IS DOWN: the planet is rife with innovations that are saving electricity – and most of them are coming without burden to the consumer (like turning thermostats down, wearing sweaters, etc.). So the demand for electricity peaked in 2007, and is unlikely to go higher until at least 2040.

GENERATION IS UP: At the same time, the ways to generate power better are increasing. Solar panels have dropped at least 50% in cost in a decade, while getting more effective. Wind turbines are excellent, and are continuing to improve. Coal generators are being slowly replaced by natural gas. Natural gas plants have desirable properties beyond generation, e.g. they can start up quickly and can come down quickly.

GENERATION IS BECOMING MORE RESILIENT AND MORE DISTRIBUTED. . After a decade of blackouts largely traceable to storms and poor line maintenance, the push is on for resilience, and it is working. The means to resilience is distributed generation (DG), which ultimately will prove to be very beneficial. However, because of regulatory roadblocks, perverse incentives, and a host of other complexities, it will be some time before the benefits of resilient DG are fully realized.

PREDICTING LOAD IS IMPROVING: Predicting load by five minute increments is improving. Smart meters and smart algorithms make it entirely plausible to predict load well 24 hours ahead, and extremely well 4 hours ahead.

PREDICTING GENERATION IS IMPROVING: the book tells horror stories about DG increasing instability and unpredictability. How can a utility plan for a surge due to a scorching sun? A big breeze? I find these horror stories to be suggestive of where this dysfunction will all end up, namely: prediction will improve dramatically through better weather forecasting, better detailed knowledge of all contributing generators.

A NEW MATCHING OF LOAD TO GENERATION IS VISIBLE. For all the horror stories, I think the future looks bright because matching predictable load to predictable generation is doable today, and will become a norm in the future once all the roadblocks are removed.

ASYNCHRONOUS POWER IS ALMOST HERE. Just as emails are asynchronous, while telephony is synchronous, in that same way, electricity has always been a synchronous technology – because there has never been a way of storing electricity. The world is moving fast toward asynchronous power because of batteries. When this happens, the world is going to change very fast.

TIME OF DAY PRICING WILL ACCELERATE ALL CHANGES. I am shocked at how pathetic time of day pricing is. Its ubiquitous – but pathetic. Once time of day pricing sends market signals about that discourage peak power use, so managers will take increasing advantage of using power (load) when it is cheapest, and avoiding power use (avoiding load) when it is most expensive, then we will begin to see thousands of innovative solutions for accomplishing this very simple goal.

Electric Buses

Article on Electric Buses reprinted below

I have some comments after the article – but first, here is the article from the link above:

All-Electric School Bus Hits the Road

Big yellow waits in the wings for its smaller counterpart to make (electric) inroads.
by Katherine Tweed
March 04, 2014

When it comes to energy efficiency, schools are a relatively easy target. There is a natural synergy between educating the next generation and teaching sustainability and efficiency, whether it’s telling kindergartners to turn off lights when they leave a room or running sophisticated energy efficiency competitions between graduate school departments. Schools often own the buildings they occupy, making it easier to swallow long-term paybacks for efficiency retrofits.

When it comes to moving students to and from school, however, there has been less progress. The nearly half a million school buses in the U.S. are inherently more efficient than single-car drivers, but transportation efficiency gains end there for many school districts. Most youngsters (and bummed-out high schoolers without wheels of their own) are waiting at street corners and the end of driveways for practically the same yellow bus their parents rode to school (the addition of seat belts notwithstanding).

Not so for one group of kids in San Joaquin Valley, Calif. Starting in February, the Kings Canyon Unified School District becameone of the first school districts in the nation to order multiple all-electric school bus to transport students. The bus is a modification of Trans Tech Bus’ SST model, with an electric powertrain from Motiv Power Systems, which also provides electric powertrains to other heavy-duty vehicles by dropping its new technology into existing chassis. A few years ago, Smith announced the availability of an electric school bus with Trans Tech, but it did not gain success in the marketplace. 

“In this way, we are answering the call of the transportation industry to build reliable EV trucks that fit seamlessly into the existing diesel truck manufacturing and service infrastructure,” Jim Castelaz, founder and CEO of Motiv, said in a statement. “We are absolutely thrilled to see the Kings Canyon all-electric school bus on its route, transporting students, without exposing them to diesel exhaust. I hope that by the time my daughter is ready to go to school, she will be able to ride clean, zero-emission school buses like this one.” 

Many states across the U.S. already have anti-idling laws that apply to school buses to cut down on air pollution. But there is often an exception when the buses need to be powered on to run the heat or air conditioning. The federal government has also ensured that school buses will have to become more efficient in coming years. President Obama has introduced the first fuel efficiency standards for medium and heavy-duty vehicles during his time in office, which will now become even more stringent.

Even with the more efficient use of the buses and gains in gas mileage, they could still be an attractive fit for electric powertrains. Like other fleet vehicles that have gone electric, such as Proterra buses in San Antonio, Motiv’s garbage trucks in Chicago or FedEx’s delivery trucks, school buses have prescribed routes that can work well with a limited battery range.

School buses often sit idle for part of the mid-day and overnight, which could allow them to participate in demand response or frequency regulation markets, as that option becomes more widely available. Frequency regulation might be more realistic than demand response, since school buses are on the roads during the afternoons when peaks usually happen in summer. In PJM and Texas’s ERCOT, there are already pilots to allow fleet EVs to participate in the energy markets. One Chinese electric bus manufacturer operating in California is calling for utility rate redesign that would further incentivize electric transportation.

And then, of course there are, the children. Many parents don’t like the idea of their kids sucking diesel exhaust as they climb on and off a bus every day? In theory, it sounds like a win, but some school buses have already gotten much cleaner than they were a generation ago, and the electric school bus comes in at about twice the cost of a traditional diesel bus. Like other heavy-duty vehicles, there are also other low-emission options, such as natural gas, to choose from.

“Kings Canyon Unified School District has taken major strides to reduce diesel particulate emissions by as much as 85 percent with the installation of diesel particulate filters and the use of low-sulfur diesel fuel years before the mandates, plus converting one-third of our school bus fleet to clean-burning natural gas,” Jason Flores, transportation director for KCUSD, said in a statement. “Going electric with these new green school buses is just one more important step in KCUSD’s ongoing portfolio of measures to protect our children, serve our community and be good servants of our environment.” 

Like other EVs, one advantage of the electric school bus is that its lifetime operating cost is far lower than that of its conventional counterpart. If diesel prices continue to rise, the savings only get better, especially if battery breakthroughs can lower the cost of electric transportation.

“The buses cost about twice as much as a comparable gas bus, but cost one-eighth as much to fuel and one-third as much to maintain,” said Castelaz. “Over the life of a school bus, two to three times the cost of the vehicle is spent on fuel and maintenance.”

Electric municipal buses are more common, but all-electric school buses have struggled to make inroads. In the 1990s, Westinghouse tried developing technology but it was never commercialized. Some other all-electric school buses have been piloted but not used for daily transport. One all-electric school bus was put into operation at Mid-Del Technology Center school in Oklahoma. It is unclear as to whether it is still in operation. There are also other efforts underway in New York City and Chicago to test out electric school buses. 

The pilot for the buses in California was funded with $400,000 from the California Air Resources Board AB 118 Air Quality Improvement Program Electric School Bus Demonstration Project. The smaller buses are outfitted with four or five battery packs for a range of 80 to 100 miles. According to Motive, when incentives for zero-emission buses are combined with battery leasing, the buses cost the same or less than conventional buses, making the long-term cost far lower.

The goal, however, is not just to electrify smaller buses, but to enable big yellow to go green too. Castelaz said there has been some interest from fleets in full-size electric bus fleets, and Motiv has the technical capabilities since it has outfitted other heavy-duty fleet vehicles, such as other buses, with electric powertrains.

The smaller buses were a natural place to start, according to John Clements, retired director of transportation for KCUSD, who is now an active clean fuels advocate in California. He noted that larger buses could be an option if there is interest based on the pilots. Kings Canyon has two buses, and federal highway funds will purchase two more for California pilots.

“They will be available to public school districts to try out at no risk to them,” said Clements. “In this way, we hope to educate districts about going electric and make it easy for them to experience for themselves.”

=============== ARTICLE ENDS HERE================

The key is:

“The buses cost about twice as much as a comparable gas bus, but cost one-eighth as much to fuel and one-third as much to maintain … Over the life of a school bus, two to three times the cost of the vehicle is spent on fuel and maintenance.”

So a moon shot for the US is: could we create an electric bus industry that, along with natural gas busses, eliminated diesel busses in the US by 2030? Could 50% of all busses by 2030 by electric?

The specific objective would be to scale the industry so the capital is 1.5x rather than 2x, and the operating costs are one-eight or less, not one-third to one-eighth.

The point is – this could be great economics for a school district. Let’s take an example. If a school bus cost $150,000 instead of $100,000 (for example), and operating costs became $1,000 instead of $10,0000 per year, then the savings of $9,000 would become a savings of $90,000 over ten years – more than paying for the extra capital.

So could there ever be a day when:

1.Public Service Commissions have a “electric school bus rate” – available only at EV charging stations of school busses (which might even have proprietary charging connections to ensure that only school busses could access the charge).
2. Authorize bonding authorities to have a “electric school bus bond” – which would allow school districts to issue 15 year bonds dedicated to buying electric busses at tax-free municipal bond rates (which are very, very low – like 2% interest or less). These bonds might have a sweetener that would make them very attractive to bond-holders – a kicker that gave bondholders half of the revenue received from the sale of electricity by busses back to utilities during peak period.
3. Authorize school districts to enter into performance contracts that pledged all operating savings for 15 years in exchange for upfront capital to buy the buses. This is an exciting option, possibly an alternative to bonds. If option 1 pricing would be put in place, smart money might actually happily offer funds this way!

The School Bus Rate would mandate utilities to charge pennies (possibly nothing?????) for off peak charging and double or triple rates for peak charging (to ensure that chargers were turned off during peak time). It would also specify a (high) price for electricity that utilities would buy back electricity from school buses during peak hours – after school hours.

So school boards, mayors, governors and other electeds would proclaim that they are using a fleet of batteries in their state to shave the state’s peak – and thereby avoiding massive capital costs for new generating capacity that ultimately is charged to taxpayers.

Smart Meters Globally

Energy companies are using the ‘Internet of Things’ to increase efficiency and save billions

JOHN GREENOUGH

Aug. 26, 2015, 10:20 AM
BI Intelligence

The lowly energy meter is becoming a leading device in the transition to the Internet of Things.

Government officials and utility executives are creating smart energy grids that will help make energy use more efficient, provide real-time billing information, and reduce the number of workers needed to check meters.

In a recent report from BI Intelligence, we size the smart meter market globally and in regions and countries through the world. We look at how smart meter installations will create smart energy grids that have a significant impact on energy usage and cost saving. Additionally, we conduct a cost-benefit analysis looking at how much it will cost to install smart meters and weigh it against the monetary and non monetary benefits the devices can provide.

Access The Full Report By Signing Up For A Full-Access Trial>>

Here are a few of the key findings from the BI Intelligence report:

Globally, we estimate the smart meter installed base will reach 454 million this year and more than double by 2020, making it a leading IoT device.
Asia will lead the transition to smart energy grids, followed by Europe, North America, South America, and Africa.
China has aggressive smart meter plans. Beijing is expected to have 100% of its residential homes equipped with smart meters by the end of this year.
The cost of installing these smart meters will be over $100 billion. But the financial benefits will reach nearly $160 billion.
There are three primary security risks associated with smart meters: physical risks, electrical risks, and software risks.
In full, the report:

Provides a regional breakdown of the smart meter market and includes forecasts from the major smart meter countries within that region.
Includes an analysis of the savings generated from smart grids
Provides an average cost of installing a smart meter over the next five years.
Assesses the other benefits to IoT-based meters and grids beyond revenue gains.
Discusses the security risks of smart meters and provides solutions from leading tech firms.
To access the full report from BI Intelligence, sign up for a 14-day full-access trial here. Full-access members also gain access to new in-depth reports, hundreds of charts, as well as daily newsletters on the digital industry.

NOW WATCH: This small landfill in New York turns trash into electricity for 400 homes

More: Internet of Things Energy Costs Energy Report Smart Grid

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/companies-utilities-save-with-iot-2015-5#ixzz3jxXhMpjJ

Future Watch: Home Electricity Power Shaping

Like the quantified self movement (my Nike Fuel Band and my Apple Watch), and like the quantified car movement (my Tesla and my Ford Escape Titanium), I am ready for the quantified home movement.

I have a specific interest – but it falls under the general class of the “smart home” or the “internet of things”. For the latest on these trends, check out:
Business Insider on Smart Home

Specifically, I am ready for “power shaping”. Here is how it will work:

The subject is: can you take greater control of the power you consume in your home? Can you shape it to who you are and what you need?

For example:

– If I leave home for a week, can I turn the water heater down to lukewarm, and turn it back up a hour before I project I will arrive back into the home?

– If I leave home for an evening, can I turn the lights off except for three that I choose, and then turn the lights back on when my smart phone detects that I am a mile from the house?

– if peak power pricing starts at 4 and ends at 7, can I turn off my draw from the grid and turn on my draw from the PowerWall battery in my garage? And can that then trigger a recharge of the PowerWall when prices are cheapest, between midnight and 6 am?

– if the US Weather Service predicts, three days before, that the sun will be bright and hot from 9 am to 6 pm, can I plan to use solar power to the maximum? I choose to draw all of my electricity from solar during that time period, and then to add any left over to recharge my PowerWall (or sell back to the grid). In fact, I will set s goal for myself that I will be 100% solar 50 days this year, 70%+ solar 100 days, and 50%+ solar 150 days – without any inconvenience to myself or my family. Also, my goal is to be 100% “off peak draw” (only draw from the grid during off peak periods) 300 days this year.

– my goal is to reduce electricity draw by 30% and cost by 40% (by shaping my draw to off peak). This saves $1000 per year.

Process is entirely driven by default choices. The most basic default is “keep on keeping on”.

But there are other defaults – that I can buy or download.

For example, my power consumption can be driven by “expert user algorithms” that others say are awesome. I take advantage of what some geek has figured out about electricity usage.

Then, I “opt in” over time, and I learn about algorithmic capabilities, assets that I own (like solar panels), and needs that I have.

Apps are evolving to support this future. Take “COMFY”, for example.This is from NYT:

A couple of computer scientists have developed a smartphone app that proposes to solve that problem by making people the thermostats. Users can tell the app, called Comfy, whether they are hot, cold or just right. Over time, it learns trends and preferences and tells the air-conditioning system when and where to throttle up or throttle back the cooling. So far it’s used in a dozen buildings, including some of Google’s offices and some government-owned buildings, for a total of three million square feet. The developers claim Comfy-equipped buildings realize savings of up to 25 percent in cooling costs.
“We have a lot of data that people are most comfortable if they have some measure of control,” said Gwelen Paliaga, a building systems engineer in Arcata, Calif., and chairman of a committee that develops standards for human thermal comfort for the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers, or Ashrae.

How Tesla will Change Your Life

This is an extraordinary article: in length (it is very long) and in breadth (it covers the universe, beginning with first principles), and in quality (it is lay person readable).

How Tesla Will Change Your Life

The article is actually one article of four. Here is the first, all about Elon Musk: