Jason Barton

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Archive for the ‘Smart Grid Technology’ tag

Improving Energy Storage Tech Is Key

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Due to the high variability of renewable energy technologies such as wind and solar, improving the efficiency of energy storage is essential to the future of our energy matrix. Unlike coal, natural gas, or nuclear power, renewables vary with wind speeds, sunshine, and other uncontrollable factors. This makes our dependence on these resources quite tenuous.

If firms like the one described in the article below can create batteries that can store energy longer, and produce them using materials that are not as rare and unsafe as many used in today’s batteries, we will be in a much better position to power our electricity grid with energy that ebbs and flows.

In Presidio, a Grasp at the Holy Grail of Energy Storage

Published: November 6, 2010

Dozens of gray compartments, lined neatly in rows, inhabit a boxy concrete building on the edge of the impoverished border town of Presidio. The only sound, aside from occasional clanking, is the whirring of air-conditioners to keep the compartments cool.

This $25 million contraption is the largest battery system in the United States — locals have dubbed it Bob, for Big Ole Battery. It began operating earlier this year, and is the latest mark of the state’s interest in a nascent but rapidly evolving industry: the storage of electricity.

Storage is often referred to as the holy grail of energy technology, because it can modernize the grid by more efficiently matching demand for power with the generation of electricity.


The state is especially keen on storage because of the proliferation of wind turbines in West Texas. The machines generate the most power at night, when people are sleeping — so if their power could be stored for use during the day, the usefulness of wind power, which currently accounts for about 6 percent of the state’s electricity generation, would significantly increase.

Read the entire article here.

Written by Jason

November 8th, 2010 at 12:26 pm

Smart Grid Has a Face!

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It’s becoming more and more of a reality. That’s exciting.

October 1, 2010 5:59 AM PDT

Intel ramps up home energy push with control-panel design

by Martin LaMonica

A prototype of Intel's home energy management panel.

Intel has announced a reference design for a home energy-management device, an attempt to get a foothold in the smart grid business and bring Intel’s chips to your kitchen table.


The device is meant act as a hub for controlling networked appliances and thermostats and to gather information from smart meters. It’s based on Intel’s Atom processor and can work with Wi-Fi and Zigbee wireless devices, such as thermostats.

Intel’s reference design can also access the Internet and display video from security cameras. In the past, Intel executives have pitched the device as a home communications center where family members leave messages for each other. Third parties can also design applications for it.

Read the entire article here.

Written by Jason

October 1st, 2010 at 10:08 am

10 Things Learned about Smart Grid

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The first point is a little too Big Brother from my perspective, and there will likely be Luddites like me who don’t go so far into the ether, but most of the rest of this article, particularly points 2, 3, 5, 7, and 10, is very informative and jibes with other information I’ve read about the future of our energy distribution system.

By Anto Budiardjo
Published July 26, 2010
10 Things I've Learned About the Smart Grid

I first heard the term “Smart Grid” in 2005 when I was invited to a meeting of the GridWise Architecture Council in Denver to discuss possibilities for organizing a collaborative Smart Grid event.

With a background in building automation and energy management, I could easily grasp the concept of Smart Grid — basically, connect and automate everything from generation to consuming devices to deliver greater efficiency. That’s all there is to it … right?

Oh, naiveté is such a wonderful thing. After organizing collaborative events at the center of the worldwide energy discussion for several years, here are 10 things I’ve learned.

Read the entire article here.

Excellent Explanation of Smart Grid Technology

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Here is a very clear, accessible explanation of smart grid technology, including its capabilities and some of the barriers involved.

Smarter Design

May 05, 2010

Warren Causey

Electrical network design is a complex, continuously evolving process. Energy Central’s Sierra Energy Group says that as many as 150,000 people are working on this arcane pursuit.

Many of these people have engineering degrees that enable them to deal with the complex mathematical and scientific calculations necessary to deal with America’s complex and constantly growing electrical grids. Whenever a new generation source comes online, engineers have to design the system that will take the power from the station, get it to the correct voltages for the transmission system, specify all the proper equipment and supervise the construction. At the other end of the grid, when a new subdivision — or even one house — is added, similar steps are taken at lower voltages.

Read the entire article here.

Written by Jason

May 6th, 2010 at 2:43 pm

Utilities start massive upgrade of New England’s grid

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‘Smart’ meters 1st step in plan to save on energy

By Stephen Singer Associated Press / April 25, 2010

HARTFORD — Power companies in New England are beginning work on a nearly half-billion-dollar plan to upgrade the region’s electric grid to make way for appliances that can shut down to reduce electric bills, improve energy conservation, and connect to wind and solar energy.

The first step is replacing decades-old meters with so-called smart meters that detail the use of computers, appliances, TVs, lights, and other household equipment.

Read the entire article here.

Energy Dept. invests $100M in Smart Grid education

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This can be an extremely helpful program if it is executed effectively. Many people are unaware of or confused about what ‘Smart Grid’ technology means, and how it can benefit households and businesses. Increased education and government transparency are certainly excellent steps forward.

April 9, 2010 | Camille Ricketts

These programs will be targeted at utility company employees.

The U.S. Department of Energy rolled out its Open Government Plan yesterday, pledging to be more transparent about energy policy shifts and to better educate the market about efficiency initiatives. A major part of the latter goal is teaching people about the benefits and importance of the Smart Grid — a concept that consumers and some utilities have yet to rally behind.

Tackling this challenge head on, Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced today that the department will be sinking almost $100 million into 54 different Smart Grid training programs across the country. Targeted at about 30,000 utility workers and electrical equipment manufacturers, these programs will also use $95 million from universities, utilities and industrial groups to design curricula around the modernization of today’s electrical grid.

Read the entire article here.

Written by Jason

April 10th, 2010 at 1:52 pm

3,000 Megawatts of Renewable Energy Planned for Montana

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Grasslands Renewable Energy introduces ‘smart grid’ transmission concept aggregating diverse renewable energy at a competitive price

BOZEMAN, Mont., April 8 /PRNewswire/ — Grasslands Renewable Energy LLC (Grasslands) today announced that it has applied to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) requesting regulatory approvals needed to advance its innovative Wind Spirit Project.

Based in the wind-rich state of Montana, Grasslands has introduced the Wind Spirit Project, an integrated and green approach to harnessing, storing, and transporting clean renewable energy to consumers.  “Our goal is to create a package of renewable energy that can compete on reliability and price, not just with renewables like solar, but with non-renewables such as coal,” said Carl Borgquist, President of Grasslands. “By combining the wind resources of the Northern Plains in an integrated solution, we can help fight climate change and be a leader in America’s energy future.”

Grasslands is developing a transmission system to access geographically diverse renewable energy from across Montana and the Northern Great Plains.  Through the Wind Spirit Project, renewable energy from multiple geographic areas will combine with energy storage technologies and smart grid components to create a more consistent renewable energy supply.  The energy for the Wind Spirit Project would be collected via series of 230KV AC transmission lines and transported to large markets using high voltage AC and DC transmission lines.  By combining renewable energy from different geographic areas, the Wind Spirit Project will make renewable energy more efficient and cost effective.

Read the entire article here.

Why Ford Wants Microsoft to Manage the Electric Vehicle Influx

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If there is a significant move to electric vehicles, and most of us come home from work and plug in our vehicles at the same time, there’s going to be an even bigger glut that we already have, and we already have a big glut. To those who deny the possibility, I’ll point to a recent conversation with a VP of BP (formerly British Petroleum) who said that in 50 years, the only use for oil will be for aviation. (Well, first he said that “we will never run out of oil.” When pressed about the meaning of “never,” he said not in his lifetime, and probably not in his kids’ lifetime. He was about 60, maybe 55. Clearly he’s not a geologist.)

The point is not to argue timescales or the finite nature of petroleum, but to point out that even the higher ups in the petroleum industry are thinking that plug-in vehicles are the wave of the future.

If these people within the petroleum industry and the folks discussed in the article below are correct, then the technology discussed in this article will be of the utmost importance to ensure a smooth transition to the infrastructure required for such a system.


Apr. 1, 2010, 12:00am PDT

Ford and Microsoft’s announcement on Wednesday that they’ll use Microsoft’s Hohm tool to minimize energy costs for drivers of Ford’s electric vehicles — and help limit strain on the power grid for utilities — represents a big step in the development of a “smart charging” ecosystem. But Microsoft and Ford both say Hohm, and other tools like it, need to — and will eventually — offer much more than this initial step.


Thousands of companies — many of them startups — are working on hardware and software for charging plug-in vehicles, Gioia said at the time, adding “We have not come even close to a funnel.” With an open architecture, the idea with Hohm is to keep the doors open for awhile longer.

Read the entire article here.

GE, IBM help form group to survey, educate US on smart grid

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This looks great. I’d very much like to learn whatever they’re teaching once the survey is done.

March 26, 2010

Before a newly formed consumer-focused group starts explaining the smart grid to the public, it plans to take an unusual step: listening.  The Smart Grid Consumer Collaborative, announced Tuesday at the DistribuTech conference in Tampa, Fla, as early as next month will commission a statistically reliable survey to help understand what the public knows about the smart grid, acting director Jesse Berst told us yesterday.

Read the entire article here.

Written by Jason

March 26th, 2010 at 2:31 pm

Battle for the Home Front

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March 22, 2010

Lisa Cohn

With consumer demand for home energy monitoring devices anticipated to grow — and regulators expected to require utilities to provide consumers with access to the devices and the data needed to make them useful — the race is on to see which providers place their products in consumers’ homes.

In that race, some providers are joining with utilities to obtain consumers’ energy usage data.

Giants Microsoft and Google are clearly in the lead. Microsoft has formed partnerships with four utilities and Google has inked agreements with 10 utilities in four countries. Under the partnerships, the utilities offer Microsoft and Google products for free to their customers.


Reacting to studies that say that access to energy usage data helps consumers reduce their energy consumption by 5 to 15 percent, regulators are beginning to require utilities to share the data.

Read the entire article here.

Written by Jason

March 22nd, 2010 at 7:49 pm