Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Ascent Universal Energy Module

Previously we talked about the Future of Grid. With all the latest natural disasters - hurricanes, wild fires, earthquakes - may be it's time to talk about the future without grid? Ascent Systems Technologies developed a concept of a Universal Energy Module. It combines advantages of state of the art solar technology, smart energy storage and energy booster in one integrated package. Thanks to the optimized configuration the system can fit in a small shipping container and quickly delivered to any geographical location in the world with no access to grid, such as remote communities, temporary accommodations, but especially to disaster sites in desperate need of power, heat, and hot water. Once delivered to the site, the module would automatically deployed to be used as a fully autonomous source of uninterrupted clean energy regardless of the time of the day or weather conditions.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Ascent Adjustable Solar Mount



Solar mount with adjustable azimuth and pitch angles by Ascent Systems Technologies installed at the UBC Centre for Interactive Research on Sustainability allows testing variety of solar collectors or PV modules under real conditions in a wide range of orientation angles. Counter-balance provides for easy handling.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

The Future of Grid, part 2 - NOT the Future We Want

Augmented Reality: An electromagnetic pulse can take down North America's electricity grid.
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This article appeared in the The World If section of the July 13, 2017 Economist print edition under the headline "A flash in the sky"
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ON MARCH 13th 1989 a surge of energy from the sun, from a “coronal mass ejection”, had a startling impact on Canada. Within 92 seconds, the resulting geomagnetic storm took down Quebec’s electricity grid for nine hours. It could have been worse. On July 23rd 2012 particles from a much larger solar ejection blew across the orbital path of Earth, missing it by days. Had it hit America, the resulting geomagnetic storm would have destroyed perhaps a quarter of high-voltage transformers, according to Storm Analysis Consultants in Duluth, Minnesota. Future geomagnetic storms are inevitable.
And that is not the only threat to the grid. A transformer-wrecking electromagnetic pulse (EMP) would be produced by a nuclear bomb, designed to maximise its yield of gamma rays, if detonated high up, be it tethered to a big cluster of weather balloons or carried on a satellite or missile. A midrange missile tested by North Korea on April 29th 2017 exploded 71 kilometres (44 miles) up, well above the 40km or so needed to generate an EMP.
Imagine a nuclear blast occurring somewhere above eastern Nebraska. Radiating outwards, the EMP fries electronics in southern Canada and almost all of the United States save Alaska and Hawaii, both safe below the horizon. It permanently damages the grid’s multimillion-dollar high-voltage transformers. Many are old (their average age is about 40). Some burst into flame, further damaging substations.
America runs on roughly 2,500 large transformers, most with unique designs. But only 500 or so can be built per year around the world. It typically takes a year or more to receive an ordered transformer, and that is when cranes work and lorries and locomotives can be fuelled up. Some transformers exceed 400 tonnes.
After the surge, telecom switches and internet routers are dead. Air-traffic control is down. Within a day, some shoppers in supermarkets turn to looting (many, unable to use credit and debit cards, cannot pay even if they wanted to). After two days, market shelves are bare. On the third day, backup diesel generators begin to sputter out. Though fuel cannot be pumped, siphoning from vehicles, authorised by martial law, keeps most prisons, police stations and hospitals running for another week.
With many troops overseas or tasked with deterring land grabs from opportunist foreign powers, there is only one American “peacekeeper” soldier for every 360 or so civilians. Pillaging accelerates. This leads many with needed skills to stay home to protect their families. Many of the rock climbers who help overwhelmed fire departments free tens of thousands from lifts begin to give up on day four despite the heart-wrenching banging that continues to echo through some elevator shafts.
Utilities can neither treat nor pump water or sewage. Raids on homes thought to have water become frequent and often bloody. Militias soon form to defend or seize control of swimming pools and other water sources. Streams and shovelled-out pits provide water in some areas, but sooner or later rain sweeps in faeces-ridden mud. Deaths from cholera and other diseases multiply.
As relief ships arrive, food, water filters and fuel are offloaded by hand amid chaos, but demand cannot be met even in port cities, much less inland. Where food can be grown without pumped irrigation, rural militias cluster into “aggie alliances” not keen to share with the hordes streaming out of cities. Some aggie alliances hole up in newly abandoned prisons, the better to defend scavenged crops and farm animals. The value of cash collapses along with faith in government.
The death rate picks up. Eventually, months later, about three quarters of the benighted area has power for at least ten hours a day. It would have been worse had 41 countries not dismantled transformers for reassembly in North America. (The most generous donors have to accept rolling blackouts.) Martial law ends six months after the original energy surge. Roughly 350,000 Canadians and 7m Americans have died.
A similar nightmare could happen in any rich country—grids outside America are vulnerable too. Such scenarios necessarily dip into “uncharted territory for an industrialised society”, as Thomas Popik, head of the Foundation for Resilient Societies, a think-tank in New Hampshire, puts it. But shorter blackouts suggest that things can get bad fast. Just three hours after Chile’s grid-collapsing earthquake on February 27th 2010, even relatively wealthy people began looting stuff they did not need. With electricity gone, normal rules had suddenly vanished and “out of control” emotions took over, says Roberto Machiavello, then rear-admiral and top martial-law official in Chile’s ConcepciĆ³n area.
Without soldiers at hospitals, Admiral Machiavello says, doctors would have stayed at home. Less than a week after Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans in 2005, many police officers opted to protect their families rather than work. Chris Ipsen, spokesman for the Emergency Management Department of Los Angeles, estimates that, with the grid down, Angelenos would be foodless in less than ten days. In poor areas, he reckons, groups would quickly form and say, “Hey, let’s go over to the mansions in Bel Air.”
In the aftermath of Haiti’s earthquake in January 2010, cholera alone killed at least 10,000. Jacques Boncy, head of Haiti’s National Laboratory of Public Health, reckons that, in three months of blackout in America, faecal contamination of water would kill several million. That might be optimistic. The EMP Commission, an expert group set up by America’s Congress to study the threat, reckoned in 2008 that the first year of societal breakdown could finish off two-thirds of Americans.
A country’s electricity grid can be knocked out in other ways. One is cyber-attack. Hackers cut power to 230,000 Ukrainians in December 2015—but only for hours. Long-term damage from cyber-assaults is unlikely, says Kenneth Geers, a security expert who studied the attack.
What about terrorism? Shooting up transformers at just nine critical substations could bring down America’s grid for months, according to an analysis performed in 2013 by the Department of Energy’s Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), says its then-chairman, Jon Wellinghoff. Others think more transformers would need to be taken out. At any rate, information on which substations are critical is secret. In 2013 gunmen knocked out 17 of 21 transformers at a substation in San Jose. It was not a critical one.
The sun probably poses a greater risk of a sustained outage than hackers or saboteurs. That is one reason the EMP Commission reconvened in January 2017. Kit that protects transformers from EMP also saves them from geomagnetic storms, though the reverse is not true. George Baker, a staffer on the commission and a former boss of EMP research at the Pentagon’s Defence Threat Reduction Agency, says that critical military systems have been EMP-proofed. But other agencies, he says, have done “precious little” to safeguard civilian infrastructure. The commission will issue an updated report in September. It will be as grim as the assessment in 2008, he says.
The expense of installing surge-blockers and other EMP-proofing kit on America’s big transformers is debated. The EMP Commission’s report in 2008 reckoned $3.95bn or less would do it. Others advance higher figures. But a complete collapse of the grid could probably be prevented by protecting several hundred critical transformers for perhaps $1m each.
Yet not much is being done. Barack Obama ordered EMP protection for White House systems, but FERC, the utilities regulator, has not required EMP-proofing. Nor has the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) pushed for a solution or even included EMP in official planning scenarios. (The Pentagon should handle that, DHS officials say; the Pentagon notes that civilian infrastructure is the DHS’s responsibility.) As for exactly what safeguards are or are not needed, the utilities themselves are best equipped to decide, says Brandon Wales, the DHS’s head of infrastructure analysis.
But the utilities’ industry group, the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC), argues that, because EMP is a matter of national security, it is the government’s job. NERC may anyway be in no rush. It took a decade to devise a vegetation-management plan after, in 2003, an Ohio power line sagged into branches and cut power to 50m north-easterners at a cost of roughly $6bn. NERC has repeatedly and successfully lobbied Congress to prevent legislation that would require EMP-proofing. That is something America, and the world, could one day regret.
 
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This is NOT the future we want. Distributed generation with universal energy modules is the answer.



Read the previous and the following posts. 

 

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Installation of ITHS at UBC CIRS began


 

Ascent Systems Technologies achieved a significant milestone and made an important step toward its goal of creating uninterrupted source of clean energy. On May 16, 2017 it began installation of the Integrated Thermal Hydronic System (ITHS) at the Centre for Interactive Research on Sustainability (CIRS) at UBC in Vancouver. The system consists of a vacuum tube solar collector as a primary energy source, a thermal energy storage and an auxiliary energy source. The solar collector is installed on the specially designed mount attached to the rooftop platform. The unique design with the axle allows adjusting its azimuth angle and vary angle of inclination in a range from 0 degrees (horizontal) to 90 (vertical) degrees or even be flipped backwards. The integrated system will include embedded irradiation sensors and real-time environment monitoring capability. Within the next few months the system will be fully configured, after which testing will start at different angles, various environment conditions and using alternative control methods. When fully tested, brained with the advanced control algorithm developed in collaboration with the University of British Columbia, the system will be ready for deployment in the field. Thanks to the optimized system architecture it can be configured as a fully self-contained autonomous module capable of generating clean energy 24 hours 7 days a week. Fit in a small shipping container or a trailer, such a module could be delivered to practically any remote location. Once on site, it could immediately start generating energy without the need for fossil fuel or for being tied to the grid. Multiple modules deployed at various geographical locations will be connected in an intelligent grid for performance data collection and analysis as well as climate monitoring and solar mapping.

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UBC CIRS - May 16, 2017.

Prof. Ryozo Nagamune (right) and his team of students helped bringing the mount to the rooftop platform.
Third from the left Mohammedreza Rostam - PhD student from Iran working on the predictive-model control for ITHS.

The tripod which is going to hold the entire structure


The tripod is going to be attached to the rooftop platform



It is not always straightforward



Solar axle is going to hold the solar frame

And now the frame is on the axle!

The frame's angle of inclination can be changed in the full range from 90 to -90 degrees.


The frame is held at the set up angle by tightening the four bolts on each side of the axle.











Finally the solar collector is on!

View from the back


You can tilt it.


It was a good day !!

Sunday, April 23, 2017

The Future of The Grid

Distributed generation and automated transactions will change how we produce and consume electricity

Developing technology is like driving a race car: You push the machinery as fast as it’ll go, and if you can avoid a crash, a prize awaits you at the finish line. For engineers, the reward is sometimes monetary, but more often it’s the satisfaction of seeing the world become a better place.
Thanks to many such engineers driving many such race cars, a lot of progress is about to happen in an unexpected are: energy and distribution. The power grid’s interlocking technological, economic, and regulatory underpinnings were established about a century ago and have undergone only minimal disruption in the decades since. But now the industry is facing massive change.
What’s happening in this industry stems from technology improvements, economic forces, and evolving public priorities.
For about a century, affordable electrification has been based on economies of scale, with large generating plants producing hundreds or thousands of megawatts of power, which is sent to distant users through a transmission and distribution grid. Today, many developments are complicating that simple model.
At the top of the list is the availability of low-cost solar and other renewable sources of power. Generators based on these resources can be built much closer to customers. So we are now in the early stages of an expansion of distributed generation, which is already lessening the need for costly long-distance transmission. That, in turn, is making those new sources cost competitive with giant legacy power plants.
Distributed generation has long been technically possible. What’s new now is that we are nearing a tipping point, beyond which, for many applications, distributed generation will be the least costly way to provide electricity.
While it certainly helps, the declining cost of renewables and gas-fired electricity is not all that’s spurring this change. To be competitive, the entire distributed system will have to work well as a whole. Quite a few technological advances are coming together to make that possible: advanced control; more compact, smarter, and efficient performance monitoring with real-time feedback; ever-growing ability to extract actionable information from big data.
Amid this changing scene, a picture is beginning to emerge of what a typical electrical grid may well look like in 10 or 20 years in most of the developed world. Yes, generation will be much more decentralized, and renewables such as solar and wind will proliferate. But other aspects are also shifting. For example, the distribution network—the part of the grid to which your home and business connect—will likely become more of a negotiating platform than a system that just carries electricity from place to place. Similar trends are taking place with centralized fossil fuel production and distribution via pipeline networks.
It must be understood that decentralization is going to be neither simple nor universal. In some places, decentralization will prevail, with most customers generating much of their own energy, using solar photo­voltaic and solar thermal systems. Others might use small-scale wind turbines. In regions where sunlight and wind are less plentiful, natural gas may still predominate for some time. Intertwined among all of those, a continuously improving version of the legacy grid will survive for decades to come.
Many analysts expect that grid-connected, distributed solar power will be fully cost competitive with conventional forms of generation by the end of this decade.
Ultimately, the lowest-cost form of generation will dominate. But figuring out what the lowest-cost option actually is will depend on both local conditions and local decisions.
Although not everywhere on the same level and not without some steps back, generally regulators are increasingly convinced that the burning of fossil fuels leads to significant societal costs, both from the direct exposure of those living near some power plants to their noxious emissions and from ­greenhouse gas induced climate change. Historically, these costs were difficult to quantify. So they were typically borne not by the producers or consumers of the energy but by the victims—for example, farmers whose crops were damaged, residents of towns close to fracking operations, and a population as a whole.
There is growing public interest in understanding the true cost of pollution and possibly shifting more of it to energy producers and possibly consumers as well. Fortunately, we now have the modeling and computational capabilities to begin to put a reasonable lower limit on those costs, which gives us a defensible way to reallocate them.
Although the best strategies for reallocating those costs are still being debated, the benefits of distributed renewable generation are already very apparent—as is the feasibility. Data collected during the Pecan Street Project, funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, indicates that a house in Austin, Texas, outfitted with solar panels typically generates 4 or 5 kilowatts during the midday hours of a sunny day in summer, which exceeds the amount of power the home typically uses during such a period.
The U.S. Department of Energy’s SunShot initiative has as its goal making solar power cost competitive—without subsidies—by 2030. (A Chinese government agency has a similar agenda.) Specifically, SunShot’s goal is to reduce the cost of distributed, residential solar power to 5 U.S. cents per kilowatt-hour by 2030; it costs about 18 cents today. Today, a 6-kW rooftop residential solar system in the United States typically costs between $15,000 and $20,000; the exact figure depends on where you live. According to data from the EIA, the average retail cost of electricity delivered by the grid in the United States is 12.5 cents per kilowatt-hour. So at 18 cents, rooftop-generated solar is not yet, on average, competitive with grid-delivered electricity. But many governments, for example U.S. state governments, subsidize the purchase of solar-power systems to make them competitive.
Meanwhile, many utilities are experimenting with ­alternative-ownership options. One is community solar, in which individual consumers buy a small number of panels in a relatively large, utility-scale system. They then get monthly credits for the electricity generated without having panels on their roofs. Another experiment, being run by CPS Energy, in San Antonio, uses rooftop solar, but CPS Energy owns the equipment and pays the homeowner for the use of the roof.
One challenge with distributed solar is storage. For electrical energy the obvious and most known solution is a battery, although there are other alternatives such as pump storage, flywheels and others. For storing solar thermal energy highly insulated double-wall tanks, phase-change materials are good options, and of course underground storage otherwise known as geoexchange.   Incorporating non-traditional typically intermittent sources of power into the grid is not straightforward. For example, right now, the grid could not handle a changeover to 100 percent solar PV (even in areas where it would make sense, like the southwestern United States or the North African desert). The grid we have today was designed around sources whose output generally varies little from day to day.
The grid must evolve in other ways, too, and quickly. One of the most important trends, already well under way, is the increasing use of microgrids. A microgrid is a group of connected power sources and loads. It can be as small as an individual house or as large as a military base or college campus. Microgrids can operate indefinitely on their own and can quickly isolate themselves if a disturbance destabilizes the larger grids to which they are normally connected.
This is an important feature during both natural and man-made disasters. Consider what happened when Hurricane Ike hit the Houston-Galveston area of Texas in 2008: Blackouts were widespread, but 95 percent of the outages were caused by damage to less than 5 percent of the grid. The grid effectively distributed the effects of what was only modest equipment damage. (I have previously written about the blackout in Calgary and other similar events, pointing to the advantages of distributed generation).
 A residential microgrid connects a group of homes that have their own power sources and energy storage. The homes communicate with each other wirelessly and connect to the main grid at a distribution transformer. In an electrical disturbance, the microgrid can protect itself by disconnecting from the main grid at that transformer.
This isolating capability of microgrids also promises enhanced cybersecurity. That’s because microgrids can help keep localized intrusions local, making the grid a much less appealing target for hackers.
When disaster strikes, whatever its cause, microgrids can limit the consequences. If it is not physically damaged, a microgrid can operate as long as it has access to a source of power, whether that’s the sun, or wind, or other source, ideally with a local energy storage.
In the long term, with the timing depending as much on economics and regulation as technology, it is quite possible that the grid will evolve into a series of adjoining microgrids. Utilities have proposed to build such microgrid “clusters” in, among other places, Chicago, Pittsburgh, and Taiwan, a tropical island where grids are prone to storm damage. These adjoining microgrids would share power with one another and with the legacy grid to minimize energy cost and to maximize availability.
In an era of adjoining microgrids that are privately owned and operated, what will become of the utility company? There are at least two possibilities. It might simply supply power to the microgrids that need it, rather than doing that for individual customers. Or it might manage microgrids and their connections with one another and to the legacy grid. Across the United States, the concept of a utility is already being reinvented in some places as more competition is introduced. Microgrids are going to accelerate that trend.
The spread of distributed generation and the rise of microgrids will also be shaped by two other factors: the expansion of the Internet of Things and the growing influence of Big Data.
Despite the hopeful vision of the future, it would be remiss however not to point out some of the challenges. These include financial ones, regulatory ones, and technical ones. And they come in all shapes and sizes.
One of the most fundamental is slow growth. To pay for costly system upgrades, utilities in the past would have relied heavily on growth in demand, and therefore sales. But improvements in efficiency, which consumers seek (and rightly so), have slowed growth in demand to the extent that it is now increasing at a rate lower than that of the growth in gross domestic product. And the figures are sobering: In 2014, the U.S. DOE predicted that in the period from 2012 to 2040, the demand for electricity will grow by only 0.9 percent per year. So, utilities cannot expect to fund the required system changes in the same ways as they have in the past, through growth. This makes utilities a victim, therefore a natural enemy of the progress toward more wide implementing of renewables and distributed generation - unless they radically reinvent themselves.
Software will play much bigger, in fact critical role in future energy strategy.
The biggest unknown is how swiftly the regulatory process can adapt. If it can’t move quickly enough to keep up with the technology (which happens already), expect agonizingly slow change. And what if governments try to prop up outmoded technologies with subsidies? That could drag out the process further. Some politicians even argue that regulators should artificially slow the rate of change (?!).
The United States’ National Academy of Engineering recently selected electrification as the top engineering accomplishment of the 20th century. But electrification now needs to be reengineered to meet the needs and opportunities of the 21st century. This is our chance to show that we are as good as our forebears of two, three, or four generations ago at technology, regulation, public policy, finance, and the management of change in general. And to leave to posterity a legacy as fine and enduring as the one that was left to us.

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The post is mainly a reprint of the article by Robert Hebner originally published in IEEE Spectrum, which also available online at: Nanogrids, Microgrids and Big Data
Some parts were skipped and some additions and minor edits are shown in italic.

The paper version of the article has a subtitle: "Rooftop solar, micro-grids and big data will revamp how we produce and consume electricity". If "electricity" would be substituted by general term "energy", and rooftop solar would include not only photovolataic but also solar thermal, I would 100% sign under that. All benefits of the micro-grids and utilizing big data would not only stay but even enhanced. Heating and cooling take a substantial portion of residential energy use (e.g. 40-45% in USA, 60-70% in Canada) and not negligible for commercial applications either, plus domestic hot water (12-15%). Employing solar thermal technology which is much more efficient in utilizing solar energy than PV (90%+ vs. 15-20%) is most cost effective for those applications. At the same time it will significantly reduce the demand for electricity, therefore make fluctuations in the (micro) grid much more manageable, and requirement for battery storage much lower. Resistance of such system against natural disasters and terrorist attacks will be higher. Real time data collection and advanced control methods will optimize performance. Eventually, the need for centralized energy generation will be if not eliminated completely but reduced dramatically, perhaps limited to very large commercial and industrial applications. Even those, with implementing efficient energy recovery technologies, may migrate to local grids. No more transmission losses. And big Thanks from Mother Nature.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

The Small and the Many

The title for this post was borrowed from the article in one of the recent issues of The Economist.  The timing of the article about satellites was fitting in few days before the anniversary of the first satellite, Sputnik, on October 4. But the concept discussed in it is also relevant to a number of other areas including energy and energy policies.
The concept is using a large number of small satellites instead of one or few large ones. The reasons for doing it this way are many. The article gives an example of two companies, both in business of making satellites, both not too surprisingly located in California. One called Space Systems Loral (SSL) from Palo Alto, currently owned by MacDonald Dettwiller (MDA), a Canadian aerospace company, is a veteran of the industry. It manufactures communication satellites intended to transmit radio and television signals over the high-altitude orbit. The first satellites (and most scientific spacecraft still, such as Hubble telescope or Juno interplanetary probe) were one of a kind, large and expensive. The SSL designed 1300 series platform based on modular architecture. Each satellite uses the same structure: a cylinder 1.2 meters across enclosed in a square box.

The more more the satellite has to do, the taller the box it is built on, the longer its solar PV panels and the larger and more complex the array of antennae and reflectors through which it sends data to its earthbound clients. Few days ago SSL has delivered one of the biggest, Sky Muster II, designed to provide broadband communications to remote areas of Australia. It stands nine meters tall, with a complex array of reflectors attached to it. Despite the modular design, intended to bring the cost down, these satellites are very expensive. The smallest of them may sell for $100 million, while the biggest can approach half a billion. Add on another $100M for the launch, and the satellite may not start showing a profit for a decade.
There is another consideration. The industry which is supposed to be innovative, must be very risk-averse. Because of the need for a long lifetime in a hostile environment and already a high sticker price, a new advanced technology will not be flown.
      
The example of a totally different company and a different approach is Planet Labs from San Francisco. While the SSL's clean room for the satellite assembly could be compared in size with a cathedral, the Planet's assembly is of the size of Starbucks. The satellites it manufactures are 30-cm long and weigh about 5 kg. Their design is based on the so called "1U" standard. Making one of them utilizing many of the smartphone components takes about a week. "This is the new face of space: small objects, large numbers".
What makes this approach extremely attractive is several reasons. One is pretty obvious - cost. Small satellites are much-much cheaper than the large ones (an additional advantage, they do not require a dedicated launcher but are flown - often in batches - as a secondary payload utilizing the room left after a primary payload). Second, as noted above it does not take much time to make them which is a very important consideration in a highly competitive market. Now, because of the large number of the satellites, they are not indispensable - the reliability of the service they provide does not depend on any one of them. Related to that, because of the short time, low cost and relatively high frequency of the launches, the company can afford consistent improvement of their products!

Let's look at another area, energy generation and transmission. Be it electricity used for lighting and numerous other needs, or some fuel such as natural gas, delivered to homes and businesses for heating, energy structure is based on large facilities such as power plants, oil refineries etc. These facilities are expensive, take long time to build and often have a large environmental impact - such as area flooded by the hydro power plants. They are also vulnerable to all sorts of risks - from technical glitches to natural disasters and targeted attacks (more often recently, cyber-attacks which are easier to perform than physical attacks). The examples of such events are well known, from Chernobyl to Fukushima, and from BP oil spill in Mexico Gulf to disruption in Ukrainian energy network. These risks may lead not only to significant costs to restore the operation of the large facility but typically affect a large number of end-users. Also, because energy has to be delivered from generation facility to end-users, additional expenses, more environmental impact and more risks are involved. Large number of users can cut off the energy by a disruption in transmission lines or pipelines.         
        
By analogy, an alternative "the small and the many" approach can be successfully applied to the energy infrastructure. Instead of large centralized power plants, small-scale integrated on-site energy generation offers numerous advantages. Yes, I am talking of course about solar and other clean energy technologies. Firstly, energy conservation/efficiency measures should be implemented. Then solar thermal or geoexchange system can provide entire heating, cooling and hot water needs. Then the remaining electrical load for lighting, electronic equipment etc. can be addressed by a small solar photo-voltaic array and/or small wind turbine (where appropriate) with an on-site energy storage.    
Such a system would be much cheaper (per installation), quicker to implement, less expensive to maintain and repair, plus have smaller to none environmental impact comparing to large centralized energy generation. This would also eliminate the need for expensive and unreliable means of energy transmission. Such distributed energy generation will be much more reliable as a whole because the problem in one location will not affect anyone else. Every system can be attended and serviced and even its generation optimized on an individual basis. Finally, every subsequent deployment can be improved based on the performance monitoring of the previous installations and due to the constant technology evolution. 

So, should we continue building gigantic power plants, refineries and pipelines or move to an agile and intelligent distributed energy network? The choice is ours.
 

    

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Transportable Solar Power Station

Sorry for not appearing online more often. I keep reminding myself of the need to write about the new connecting technologies. This time I can't ignore it.




 Transportable clean energy plant is the bridge between the current centralized grid - someone called it "the biggest machine ever built by humankind" - to a decentralized distributed efficient energy generation. More often than anything else the subject is electrical power.



However, where thermal energy is needed - from heating to cooling and hot water for domestic or commercial needs - it can be produced much more efficiently bypassing the conversion to and from electricity. Modern solar thermal systems combined with state-of the art thermal storage and/or auxiliary source (small heat pump or other) cam provide 4-5 times more thermal energy than PV -based system of the similar size could. Connecting them in the Integrated Energy Module would result in the best of both worlds and could be made in a size of a small trailer.