The beginning of the year is a time to consider change and reformation. In our personal lives, we resolve to improve what we can. During the darkness of winter, we consider what new activities we will embark on as daylight increases. Many readers of Automated Buildings go to the AHR show, to learn of new technologies to put into the field this next year. There is a growing acknowledgment of microgrids as an approach that solves many of the most pressing issues in facilities. The technologies are lining up.Is this, then, finally the year of the microgrid?A microgrid is a system of systems that manages its energy generation, distribution, and use internally. A microgrid may or may not be connected to a larger grid. If it is connected, it may choose to buy, or to sell power to the larger grid. Its position of power shortage or surplus may change over time. Many think of a microgrid as something that supports a multitude of buildings, say an industrial park. I am writing this column on a portable laptop that meets all of the definition above.
The home-technology industry saw some big news in 2015, like the acquisitions of QMotion by Legrand and SunBrite by SnapAV, the end of the iconic LiteTouch lighting-control business, and the rise of DC power distribution.But the following stories, I believe, are the most important of the year in terms of their significance to the smart-home industry and the home-technology channel.
Say there’s a power outage.The old way of doing business for a power company would be to wait for a customer to call in and report it. Then the company would send out crews to figure out the problem and fix it.The new way of doing business might be to receive an automatic notification from the meters of every home and business without power. Sensors can help the company figure out where along the distribution system the problem is, and the company has access to a map that tells it where every one of its technicians are, which ones are closest to the problem, and which ones have the tools and training to fix it.
Tollgrade Communications, Inc., the industry leader in redefining the global standard for reliability at the worlds largest electric utilities and telecommunications providers, is helping European utility companies and distribution network operators (DNOs) to improve grid reliability while significantly reducing capital and operational costs with its LightHouse Medium Voltage (MV) Sensors and Predictive Grid®Analytics software.
After several false starts, 2017 could be the year when smart meters finally run wild across Europe. That’s when Germany — the last holdout among major industrialized nations in the European Union — is set to begin pushing out a ramped-up rollout of smart meters in a phased-in process that now has the support of the country’s 900 distribution service operators (DSOs).According to a draft Digitization Law document leaked to the press in early August, smart meters would be compulsory for high energy consumers and for those living in new buildings.
A vast network of power plants, transmission lines, and distribution centers together make up the U.S. electrical grid. The grid constantly balances the supply and demand for the energy that powers everything from industry to household appliances. Out of sight for most, the grid usually only comes to public attention due to large-scale failures, such as the blackout that struck the Northeast in 2003.
Honeywell (NYSE: HON) and Tata Power Delhi Distribution (TPDDL) today announced that they have successfully implemented the first ever automated demand response (ADR) project for commercial and industrial facilities in India.TPDDL is using Honeywell technology and services to link more than 160 buildings in its distribution network, and call for temporary reductions in energy use when demand threatens to outpace supply. This includes power management during periods of peak consumption, as well as other grid emergency situations. ADR gives the grid operator a new, domestic resource to help alleviate stress on transmission and distribution lines, and improve supply efficiency.
Axiom Exergy, a provider of energy storage systems for large supermarkets and food distribution facilities, has created the Refrigeration Battery for businesses with high refrigeration loads. The Refrigeration Battery enables facilities to store cooling for later use, thereby transforming their refrigeration systems into large-scale, cloud-connected, smart energy-storage resources.
With the recognition that microgrids and distributed generation are a growing trend and that these technologies will proliferate in the coming years, Oncor, who operates the largest distribution and transmission system in Texas, has launched what is being called one of the most advanced microgrids in North America.
The state-of-the-art microgrid facility was built by S&C Electric Company and Schneider Electric at Oncor’s System Operating Services Facility (SOSF) near Lancaster, Texas, and consists of four interconnected microgrids utilitizing nine different distributed generation sources, including two solar photovoltaic arrays, a microturbine, two energy storage units, and four generators.
The California Energy Commission recently announced a proposed award to Robert Bosch LLC for $2,817,566 to demonstrate a high-penetration, renewable-based microgrid. With this award, Bosch plans to demonstrate the effectiveness of its direct-current building-scale microgrid platform in an American Honda Motor Co., Inc., parts distribution center. The project is designed to illustrate the viability and benefits of a commercial-scale DC building grid compared with conventional AC-based grid connected solar photovoltaic (PV) systems or microgrids.
The Bosch DC microgrid project will connect rooftop solar PV arrays to energy-efficient DC lighting, DC ventilation and DC energy storage systems on a 380-volt DC bus to form a DC building grid. The approach is designed to allow commercial buildings to become zero-net-energy users in a cost-effective manner.