Koolbridge’s Smart Load Tech Heads to NCCETC

The North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center (NCCETC) at North Carolina State University has signed a five-year Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with North Carolina-based Koolbridge Solar, Inc. NCCETC will work with Koolbridge to test their Smart Load Center technology, a smart circuit breaker panel for integrating a photovoltaic and energy storage system with a home’s or commercial building’s loads and the electric grid. In other words, when the sun is shining, the technology transfers the loads from the grid to the off-grid solar and battery system for use when the sun goes down. Koolbridge Solar’s technology was invented by Paul W. Dent, who according to Wikipedia is the co-inventor of Bluetooth wireless technology.

“Koolbridge Solar, Inc. has a new advanced inverter, Smart Load Center, and other patented and patent-pending energy management technology designed to lower the costs of distributed photovoltaic systems and increase value by allowing for easy integration of energy storage and by allowing continued operation in case of electrical outage with the local power company,” said Stephen Burnett, chairman & CEO of Koolbridge Solar. Burnett also stated his company values the support of the NCCETC and will actively seek funding to allow for more significant input from the Center.

As part of the collaboration, The Center will provide high-level policy, market, and technical guidance to Koolbridge on their products and strategies. The Center will also support Koolbridge’s pursuit of federal and state grants and other funding opportunities wherever possible and appropriate. NCCETC is known for their work in solar policy, markets, and technology as well as related codes and standards and has received two U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) SunShot grants.

Professional Engineer and Renewable Energy Program Coordinator of the NCCETC, Tommy Cleveland, added,”The Center is pleased to have entered into the first MOA with Koolbridge Solar in accordance with its mission to improve North Carolina and citizens’ access to affordable and reliable solar energy.”

Maine Utilities Partner to Improve Grid

Emera Maine and Central Maine Power (CMP) have agreed to jointly develop electric transmission projects in Maine. The goal of all projects is to improve links between southern New England and northern Maine, where more than 2,100 megawatts of wind power development have been proposed. The agreement between the utilities comes in response to a call by the six New England governors for investments in the region’s energy infrastructure to diversify the energy portfolio and gain access to new renewable energy resources.

As the state’s two largest utilities, the companies serve more than 95 percent of Maine’s homes and businesses. The utilities have significant expertise with transmission projects, including the MEPCO transmission line that extends from central Maine to New Brunswick, Canada.

Transmission Project in MaineCentral Maine Power is the state’s largest utility serving 605,000 homes and businesses in the southern third of the state. The company is nearing completion of the Maine Power Reliability Program, a $1.4 billion investment in new transmission lines and substations to reinforce its 345,000 volt bulk power grid.

“Our Maine Power Reliability Program is the largest construction project ever in Maine, and one of New England’s largest transmission projects,” said Sara Burns, president and CEO of Central Maine Power. “It’s a vast and complex undertaking, but four years into construction, the project is on time and on budget.”

Emera Maine serves approximately 154,000 homes and businesses in eastern and northern Maine. Significant transmission projects completed by Emera Maine include the 43-mile, 115,000 volt Downeast Reliability Project, and the 85-mile, 345,000 volt Northeast Reliability Interconnect in 2007.

“Electric transmission can be a significant challenge to new low/no emitting generation sources seeking to enter our New England market”, said Gerard Chasse, president and COO of Emera Maine. “That’s a challenge that our companies have been working together on for some time, particularly in Northern Maine. With this MOU we are renewing and expanding these efforts to identify and develop creative and cost effective transmission solutions to benefit the State and the region.”

The partners have outlined two initial phases of work. Phase One will analyze the feasibility of each project, including technical feasibility, public policy, regulatory considerations, and outreach to other potential parties to the project. Phase Two will include all development activities from design, engineering, siting, through construction bidding.

ACORE Study: Evolving Business Models for Renewable Energy

A new study has been released, “Evolving Business Models for Renewable Energy,” from the American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE). With aid from several members, the report explores key issues and provides recommendations related to evolving utility and other business models for renewable energy. The report was produced in conjunction with ACORE’s Power Generation and Infrastructure Initiative.

“From potential storage benefits of electric vehicles, to recommendations on ideal scenarios for integration of distributed renewable assets, ACORE and its members are tackling the cutting edge issues facing our electricity sector today,” said co-author and CEO of American Clean Energy, Steve Morgan.

ACORE Evolving Biz Models for Renewable Energy.jogThe report details how distributed generation, smart grids, and microgrids are changing traditional utility business models, suggests outcomes for the successful integration of renewable energy at scale, and spotlights ways in which emerging energy sources such as concentrated solar power (CSP) and electric vehicles (EVs) are changing the way utilities look at generation, integration and storage.

“Our Power Generation and Infrastructure Initiative has always focused on solutions over politics,” said ACORE CEO Michael Brower, “and by convening our members who are developers, legal experts, sector analysts and financiers to review the business landscape, we guarantee a highly credible, critical and realistic view to help craft solutions for a cleaner, more reliable power sector future.”

Sections of the report include “Renewable Energy Drivers of Change,” “Overview of Actions from the Utility Perspective,” as well as “Distributed Energy: Understanding and Mitigating Commercial and Regulatory Risks”. These chapters are designed to build on the organization’s efforts to create bridges between the utility industry and renewable energy industry.

ACORE’s Power Generation & Infrastructure lead James Hewett called this focus “essential” noting, “The utility sector is well aware of the disruptive nature of distributed renewable energy. ACORE is focused on making this disruption an opportunity for utilities, not a threat. Frankly, it’s essential to the success of all.”

Equatorial Guinea Installing Solar Microgrid

The government of Equatorial Guinea is installing a self-sufficient solar microgrid project in Annobon Province in partnership with three American companies: the consulting firm MAECI Solar, GE Power & Water and Princeton Power Systems. This project will be Africa’s largest self-sufficient solar microgrid and will bring significant benefits to the West African nation. It will supply Annobon Island with reliable, predictable power and will supply enough electricity to handle 100 percent of the island’s current energy demand.

Annabon Province“The solar microgrid will feature 5-MW solar modules and system integration by MAECI, an energy management system and controls from Princeton Power Systems and energy storage from GE,” MAECI said in a news release. Chris Massaro, senior vice president of MAECI noted that the project would both raise the quality of life and advance the Equatoguinean government’s goal of diversifying the economy.

“The Annobon Electrification Project will be the platform for economic growth on the island by bringing a much needed power supply that will enable the development of multiple industries, add 700 to 1,000 direct and indirect jobs to Annobon Island and significantly raise the standard of living,” added Massaro.

Annobon Province consists of tiny Annobon Island and has a population of 5,000. The Annobon Province currently has reliable electricity for only a few hours a day, but the solar microgrid aims to provide electricity 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The project is a part of Equatorial Guinea’s National Economic Development Plan Horizon 2020, which aims to make Equatorial Guinea an ’emerging economy’ and accelerate its development and democratization by 2020.”

UCR Unveils Sustainable Grid Initiative

The University ofSIGI-graphic California, Riverside has launched its Sustainable Integrated Grid Initiative to research the integration of intermittent renewable energy including photovoltaic solar panels, energy storage including batteries, and all types of electric and hybrid electric vehicles. The project is the largest of its kind in the state.

“This project puts UC Riverside at the forefront of smart grid and electric vehicle research, providing a unique platform for engineers and utilities to identify and solve potential problems at scale,” said Matthew Barth, lead investigator of the initiative and the director of UC Riverside’s Bourns College of Engineering Center for Environmental Research and Technology (CE-CERT). Continue reading

Georgia Tech Students Win ACC Clean Energy Challenge

A team of four students from the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) have taken the $100,000 grand prize in the ACC Clean Energy Challenge hosted by the U.S. Department of Energy. The team won with its electrical power grid technology that features an Internet-like control architecture. The $100,000 prize and ACC Clean Energy Cup were Energy Internetpresented by Dr. Darryll Pines, Dean of the Clark School of Engineering at the University of Maryland, Dean Chang, Associate VP, Academy for Innovation & Entrepreneurship, University of Maryland, and Jennifer Garson, Technology-to-Market Analyst, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, U.S. Department of Energy.

Winning second place was Clemson University’s Brewcovery, whose team is developing bio-separation and bio-digestion processes to recover and refine value-added co-products from the food industry and brewery waste.

The Georgia Tech team, known as Energy Internet, presented their technology to a panel of expert judges from the clean energy community at the ACC Clean Energy Challenge Final Four on March 26 at the University of Maryland, the competition host and organizer. The team, which includes graduate students Marcelo Sandoval, Jennifer Howard, Mitch Costley and Eric Crane, now moves on to represent the southeast region in the DOE National Clean Energy Business Plan Finals, to be held in Washington, D.C., on June 11-12, 2014.

ACC Clean Energy Challenge winner Energy Internet is developing a new electric power grid approach and solution with a decentralized, autonomous, Internet-like control architecture and a learning control software system. The proposed architecture leverages smart grid investment in sensing and communications and is massively scalable and incrementally deployable, enabling grid flexibility and numerous desirable value propositions, according to the Georgia Tech team. The new architecture is based on the emerging concept of electricity “Prosumers,” i.e., economically motivated parties (residential, commercial, industrial and institutional) that can produce, consume or store electricity as determined by their unique needs and capabilities.

The Clemson Brewcovery team is developing a bio-separation and bio-digestion system to create energy and additional products from food industry and brewery waste while reducing the carbon footprint of these facilities. Those products could include bio-lipids for biofuel production, organic nitrogen and phosphorus rich soil amendments, and high protein animal feeds.

The ACC Clean Energy Challenge event featured keynote speaker Mark Johnson, Director, Advanced Manufacturing Office, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, U.S. Department of Energy and former Program Director of the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E).

The $100K ACC Clean Energy Challenge is a business plan competition encouraging students from all universities throughout the southeastern United States to develop business plans for new clean energy companies focused on renewable energy, energy efficiency improvements and advanced fuels/vehicles.

Green Charge Networks Help Save Green

Green Charge Networks can help retail chain customers and city municipalities save some green. The company, which specializes in intelligent energy storage, has signed agreements for 1 MW of energy storage with several organizations that are looking to reduce their electricity bills via smart grid technologies.

GreenStationFor example, it is common in California and New York City for business to pay 40 percent or more for their monthly electric bill in “demand charges” based on their electricity use during peak times. To reduce these costs, Green Charge Network uses its GreenStation technology. It works by collecting utility and weather data to predict peak use and store energy accordingly.

7-Eleven stores have been using GCN’s GreenStation successfully for the past two years. One 7-Eleven GreenStation in New York endured Hurricane Sandy and then went on to save the business 56 percent on their electricity bills during the 2013 summer heat wave. Green Charge Networks is adding to its list of customers including 7-Eleven, Walgreens, office buildings, community colleges, and municipalities, adding up to 1 MW as listed on the DOE’s Global Energy Storage Database.

“It is a big accomplishment to our company to help businesses and local governments use power more efficiently,” said Vic Shao, CEO at Green Charge Networks. “1 MW marks a very significant milestone for Green Charge Networks as we continue to diversify our customer base and increase our penetration in the rapidly growing intelligent energy storage market. Energy efficiency initiatives can only take us so far. The era of power efficiency using advanced software is the next frontier in energy savings.”

It is no secret that America’s aging grid needs to be reborn. Yet with the billions, if not trillions, of dollars it would take to accomplish this and ongoing fights on who should pay for the updates (utilities/consumers or state and federal governments) smart grid technologies can help immediately reduce electricity demand on the overstressed grid.

Experts also say that they are also a good tool in both climate change adaptation and mitigation. Green Charge Networks points out that GreenStation is designed to withstand storms as fierce as Hurricane Sandy or temperatures as extreme as the recent polar vortex. In addition, Green Charge Networks says if smart grid technologies like GreenStation were implemented nationally they could save the energy equivalent of 4,000 coal plants per year.

Princeton Power, EnStorage Awarded BIRD Grant

Princeton Power Systems and EnStorage have been awarded a $950,000 grant from the Israel-U.S. Binational Industrial Research and Development Foundation (BIRD). The grant will support the commercialization and deployment of an energy storage system based on EnStorage’s proprietary hydrogen bromide (HBr) flow battery and Princeton Power Systems’ inverters and site controller. The first system will be deployed to support a photovoltaic (PV) installation and would be able to support the grid for at least six hours per day for a minBIRD winner logosimum of 20 years.

“The BIRD Foundation grant will enable our companies to develop a comprehensive solution for PV installations and various other applications,” said Marshall Cohen, Chairman of Princeton Power Systems. “We aim to develop inverters as well as software for EnStorage’s HBr technology to add to our long-term energy-storage offering.”

The commercial system will be a 150kW/900kWH containerized system, to be based on EnStorage’s grid connected 50kW/100kWH technology demonstrator.

“Our partnership with Princeton Power Systems will allow us to expedite the commercialization of our technology,” said Arnon Blum, CEO of EnStorage. “The ability to deploy our battery at a customer site and rely on Princeton Power Systems’ experience in optimizing the interaction between the grid and our battery’s performance will serve as a significant step for future deployments.”

Dynamometer Test Facility Sets Wind on New Course

Days before the holiday season, the Energy Department’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) set the wind industry on a new course with the addition of a new 5MW Dynamometer Test Facility at its National Wind Technology Center (NWTC). The new facility will better enable NWTC engineers and their industry partners to verify the performance and reliability of wind turbine drivetrain prototypes and commercial machines. Increased performance and realiability will lead to more competitively cost wind energy.

The facility will be able to test virtually any land-based turbine in more “real time” conditions that turbines experience out on the “farm”.

“These new capabilities make this a very special facility, one of the largest and finest of its kind in the world,” said NWTC Director Fort Felker. “It gives NREL an enhanced ability to do comprehensive testing of modern multi-megawatt wind turbine systems in a laboratory environment to verify their performance and reliability before they are widely deployed.”

A dynamometer system replaces the rotor and blades of a wind turbine and allows researchers to control the turbine drivetrain’s mechanical and electrical systems while simulating normal and extreme operating conditions. Historically, this testing has been done under torque (rotating) loads only. However, the NWTC facility incorporates a non-torque loading s20131226_dynamometer_28229ystem into the testing regimen, a hydraulic device that allows for simulation of both the rotational and bending loads that a wind turbine rotor places on a drivetrain.

“The non-torque loading system is what really sets this facility apart from other comparable test sites,” explained NWTC Dynamometer Project Manager Mark McDade. “This allows us to test the drivetrain system with the types of loads that it will see in a real-world application. It’s a very important feature for a test apparatus because the adverse impacts these types of loads can have on a system are significant.”

The system features a 6-MW motor, which provides the power to a turbine during testing. The motor turns at very high speed and low torque. The motor drives a gearbox, which transforms the output to the high torque and low speed that is appropriate for a wind turbine drivetrain. This provides the rotating loads on the test article. Add to this motorized torque testing the non-torque loading capability unique to the NWTC, and NREL is able to put a wind turbine drivetrain through the most realistic loading tests possible in a laboratory.

“These machines are expected to operate reliably in the field, often in harsh conditions, for 20 years or more,” Felker said. “The ability to comprehensively test these systems in the lab, to verify their reliability and performance before they go into service, is a critically important capability for the wind industry.” Continue reading

Ohioans Support Clean Energy

Ohio is voting “yes” for clean energy according to a new poll conducted by Yes for Ohio’s Energy Future. The survey found that Ohioans support the Ohio Jobs Initiative, the Ohio Clean Energy Initiative by a margin of 35 percent (64 percent likely to vote in favor versus 29 percent unlikely). The poll was conducted by Public Policy Polling (PPP), who found during the survey that 55 percent of respondents were not aware of the Jobs Initiative. The proposed policy needs 385,247 signatures by July 4, 2014 to be on the November 2014 ballot to enable Ohioans to vote on the bill.

According to Yes for Ohio’s Energy Future, who backs the initiative, the Jobs Initiative enacts an amendment that would provide $1.3 billion a year for 10 years from state general obligation bond funding in a comprehensive array of areas, including clean energy YES FOR OHIO'S ENERGY FUTURE CLEAN ENERGYindustries and energy-related public infrastructure projects in the areas of solar, wind, hydro, geothermal, biomass, smart grid, along with other technologies. Funding includes research and development, academic and educational development as well as vocational training support.

Beginning in January 2014, the Ohio Energy Initiative Commission (OEIC) will begin accepting a limited number of early project proposals as part of the Fast Start Program; however, funding is limited to one quarter of the annual budget. Early project proposals may be placed on a prioritized list for funding, which is contingent on passage of the Initiative. Eligible categories of applicants include individuals, companies, non-profits, municipalities, and state agencies.

Project proposals for funding will be reviewed by independent reviewers at the OEIC through a simple open, transparent, and publicly-published process that evaluates the technical, economic, financial and environmental merits of each proposal.

Yes for Ohio’s Clean Energy future says the Ohio Clean Energy Initiative mirrors the enormously successful bi-partisan jobs initiative, Ohio Third Frontier, which began in 2002 under Republican Governor Bob Taft and continued under Democratic Governor Ted Strickland. The program is credited with producing 55,000 jobs at an average salary of $65,000 per year and at an overall Return on Investment of 9:1.