The Smart Grid Project
On November 24, 2009, the US Department of Energy released the following statement:
“COLUMBUS, OHIO – At an event in Columbus, Ohio this afternoon, Secretary Chu announced that the Department of Energy is awarding $620 million for projects around the country to demonstrate advanced Smart Grid technologies and integrated systems that will help build a smarter, more efficient, more resilient electrical grid. These 32 demonstration projects, which include large-scale energy storage, smart meters, distribution and transmission system monitoring devices, and a range of other smart technologies, will act as models for deploying integrated Smart Grid systems on a broader scale. This funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act will be leveraged with $1 billion in funds from the private sector to support more than $1.6 billion in total Smart Grid projects nationally”.
Taylor and Fenn, continuous improvement consultant works on reducing energy costs
When I worked at Taylor and Fenn, in Windsor, CT, in 1995, because we were one of the biggest users of electrical power, on the hottest days of the summer, sometimes the local energy department (CL&P) would call the owners of the company and ask that we work off hours to alleviate the strain of power draw so that the town could accommodate the need for power for the rest of its users. Working in a foundry, where molten metal is poured at temperatures of 2200 degrees Fahrenheit plus was hot, everyday. The employees did not mind coming in at 2:00am instead of 4:00am because it was cooler for them anyway. Later, when the owner hired a continuous improvement consultant, one of the first things he did was solicit bids from other power sources besides the standard power company He was effectively able to reduce the energy rates by going with a secondary source and it gave him leverage with the primary source, to significantly reduce rates.
Homeowner says wind powered turbine will cut electric bills
Last week in the Journal Inquirer, in the weekend edition for November 28-29, an article by Lisa Buie talked about how Bob Lyon joked and said of his new wind-powered turbine, “This is the craziest thing I’ve done in my life”. He was referring to the fact that he had purchased and built a turbine that will generate energy for his property and excess energy will be sold back to the power company.
“When he began researching, he discovered that he will get back 100% of the purchase price in property tax relief over the next 10 years. He also gets a 30% federal tax credit. The 19-foot, 1-to wind turbine is located in front of his vacation home in Port Richey, FL.
International Fuel Cells changes name to UTC Power
In 1999, I worked at IFC, which later changed its name to UTC power. I had the pleasure to work with scientists and engineers that were developing fuel cell technology. From the American history website, “There are several kinds of fuel cells, and each operates a bit differently. But in general terms, hydrogen atoms enter a fuel cell at the anode where a chemical reaction strips them of their electrons. The hydrogen atoms are now “ionized,” and carry a positive electrical charge. The negatively charged electrons provide the current through wires to do work. If alternating current (AC) is needed, the DC output of the fuel cell must be routed through a conversion device called an inverter. Since fuel cells create electricity chemically, rather than by combustion, they are not subject to the thermodynamic laws that limit a conventional power plant (see “Carnot Limit” in the glossary). Therefore, fuel cells are more efficient in extracting energy from a fuel. Waste heat from some cells can also be harnessed, boosting system efficiency still further.
Fossil Fuel and Combustion
My father worked as a service engineer for Combustion Engineering, which later became ABB. He started his career as a fossil fuel combustion service engineer. Later on in his career, he moved into Hydro power and was responsible for the build and start up operations of two hydro power plants in Maine and one in Jakarta, Indonesia. In the US, he dealt with constraints from the folks that were concerned about fish getting caught in the dams, and in Indonesia, he dealt with religious and political constraints of a different nature.
President Obama’s smart grid project is necessary and appropriate. The White house’s energy article ended by saying, “The demonstration projects announced today will also help verify the technological and business viability of new smart technologies and show how fully integrated Smart Grid systems can be readily adapted and copied around the country. Applicants say this investment will create thousands of new job opportunities that will include manufacturing workers, engineers, electricians, equipment installers, IT system designers, cyber security specialists, and business and power system analysts.
Creating job and focusing on green technology, while reducing energy costs, is a smart move for America. I fully endorse investigating alternative fuels and supporting the smart grid project and hope you will too.
Graphic by Marc Marshall, Schatz Energy Research Center