(March 2011) TVA and EPRI demonstrate solar-assisted EV charging station; Ford unveils the all-electric Focus; Central Maine Power awards substation contracts; ERCOT deploys ABB software in nodal market; FirstSolar starts up PV plant for Southern Company and Ted Turner; plus contracts and announcements involving Open Systems International, Verizon, Suntech Power, Alcatel-Lucent, Siemens, Cisco, Elster, Sensus, Silver Spring Networks and others.
Lockheed Martin teams with Tendril; Pattern Energy 101 MW wind plant starts operating; Alstom to supply steam equipment to GWF plant; Siemens wins government efficiency contract; GE Jenbacher introduces high-efficiency gas engine; OpenADR Alliance forms; Better Place gets into San Francisco taxis; EnerNOC enters TransAmerica Pyramid; and more.
The smart grid and its biomorphic destiny.
Smart grid technology is bringing inanimate objects to life. In connecting nodes and equipping the system with distributed intelligence, the network is developing toward an environment that becomes quasi-biological over time. Such an organic system might defy deterministic ideas of planning and control.
Industry giants start the EV revolution.
Reports of the electric car’s death are greatly exaggerated. Technology, economics and politics are driving a new start for electric vehicles; already dozens of EV models are heading for U.S. showrooms. Electricity won’t replace gasoline overnight, but utilities are planning today for tomorrow’s transportation load.
Small is beautiful for nuclear developers.
Small modular reactors (SMRs) are nuclear generating units that are about the size of railroad cars and provide about one-tenth to one-fourth the power of full-size reactors. As a result, they cost a fraction of what full-size reactors cost. The reactors are designed to provide between 40 MW and 300 MW of electric power, compared with the 1,100 to 1,700 MW output of larger reactors. In addition, most are expected to cost under $1 billion, compared with the $5 billion to $10 billion price tags of the larger units.
FEI Company, a diversified scientific instruments company providing electron and ion-beam microscopes and tools for nanoscale applications, completed a multiple system installation at the Materials Ageing Institute (MAI) in France, a utility-oriented research center financed by Electricite de France, the Tokyo Electric Power Co., the Kansai Electric Power Co. and the U.S. Electric Power Research Institute.
Grid upgrades spark an interactivity revolution.
The smart grid is opening the floodgates on customer data, just as consumers are getting comfortable with retail self-service and mobile apps. With dynamic rates, distributed generation and electric vehicles just around the corner, big changes are coming in the utility-customer relationship. Will IOUs let upstarts control the new energy market?
Strategies for surviving the industry’s transition.
To realize the full potential of smart-grid benefits, utilities must undergo significant changes. They must learn to integrate information and operations differently, demonstrate adaptability and modify cultural tendencies.
A land rush in the burgeoning home energy management market.
The Prius Effect—a term that’s gained currency in sustainability circles—is shorthand for the strong link between information and behavior demonstrated by the popular Toyota hybrid. The car was among the first to provide a real-time fuel consumption gage on the dash; step hard on the gas, watch the MPG gage go down. Coast gently along and see the savings. Drivers with the gage become aware of—even obsessive about—the way their driving habits affect consumption, and by extension, cost.
Integrated demand offerings could be the next generation of energy management.
The market for demand-side products and services appears poised to explode. What began as separate energy efficiency, demand response and distributed energy program offerings are now coming together in integrated demand offerings. A recent poll of 400 industry professionals suggests such packaged offerings might open new opportunities for service providers while also enhancing the customer experience.