Thursday, June 25, 2015

AST and UBC enter into a Collaborative Research Agreement

Ascent Systems Technologies (AST) and University of British Columbia (UBC) entered into a 4-year Collaborative Research & Development (CRD) Agreement to develop Integrated Thermal Hydronic System (ITHS) with Adaptive Control. The project is funded in part by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) of Canada.

Despite significant advances in efficiency of solar technologies in the past years however, all of them suffer from the same disadvantage - sun energy is only available during the day and is also affected by weather conditions. A system consisting of a solar thermal collector (STC) as an energy generator, thermal energy storage unit, and an air-to-water heat pump as a thermal energy booster, can overcome this disadvantage. Optimally configured and combined with adaptive control it constitutes a core of the Integrated Thermal Hydronic System (ITHS). Generally, ITHS is only one of the "incarnations" of the integrated Onsite Energy Generation (OEG) system. Others can include PV+Battery+Fuel cell generator for instance, as well as combined or hybrid systems.

In developing control for integrated onsite energy generation, AST uses iterative methods and adaptive control algorithm with real-time feedback loop drawn from the space guidance & navigation which have not been applied to renewable energy systems yet. Resulting optimal control produces precise response to both the external environment and the energy demand. The learning algorithm utilizes predictive capability. These all will result in significantly smaller and more compact physical implementation of the system which also means it would require less materials and labor to produce but also will open up a much wider range of applications that could not have been possible otherwise. Those can range from providing sustainable energy for remote Northern communities and First Nations to temporary or seasonal operations such as exploration camps, and rapid deployment applications such as military or disaster relief operations. 

Friday, May 8, 2015

Tesla Powerwall and the Future of Energy

Here is a very good analysis of the batteries market from Clean Technica.

Interestingly, I just came across of the residential installation using  Powersonic 2V AGM sealed batteries - 1300 Ah (20 hr rate). Twelve batteries deliver 31 kWH and provide complete off-grid service combined with the array of 24 Conergy PV modules. These batteries appear to be much better deal than offered by Musk: $206/kWh (CAD) vs. $350/kWh (US) for Tesla Powerwall or even $250/kWh (US) for the commercial pack.

One important aspect is not usually highlighted in most analyses. Creating on-site energy can not only reduce the load on the grid, but eventually lead to the grid become unnecessary. Autonomous systems will not require power lines, thus avoid losses associated with transmission. They will be protected from disruptions in the centralized grid (either caused by natural disasters, technical glitches or terrorism) and will not impact other individual systems, therefore safer.

Integrated solar thermal system supported by off-grid electrical generation is one of the best options for future clean reliable and safe energy.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Tesla Powerwall a Breakthrough?

In a Steve Jobs style presentation Elon Musk announced a "revolution" in energy storage - Tesla's Powerwall.

There is no question about the need of efficient, affordable and reliable batteries. Is his Powerwall a breakthrough? I don't know, time will tell. At least it is a push.
The following is an extract from Bloomberg:
The new Tesla Powerwall home batteries come in two sizes - 7 and 10 kWh - but the differences extend beyond capacity to the chemistry of the batteries. The 7kWh version is made for daily use, while its larger counterpart is only intended to be used as occasional backup when the electricity goes out. The bigger Tesla battery isn't designed to go through more than about 50 charging cycles a year...
Here’s where things get interesting. SolarCity, with Musk as its chairman, has decided not to install the 7kWh Powerwall that’s optimized for daily use. Bass said that battery "doesn't really make financial sense"...
But if its sole purpose is to provide backup power to a home, the juice it offers is but a sip. The model puts out just 2 kilowatts of continuous power, which could be pretty much maxed out by a single vacuum cleaner, hair drier, microwave oven or a clothes iron. The battery isn’t powerful enough to operate a pair of space heaters; an entire home facing a winter power outage would need much more.. 
But I would also be interested to know what kind of battery it is: lithium-ion or some other, Musk didn't mention it in his presentation. What is weight, and what are the dimensions? Do they require rare elements and their manufacturing is highly energy consuming as most of them? If yes, then their environmental benefits might be questionable. 

The part about the day-night gap between demand and supply of solar energy is very similar to what I discuss in my presentations. Ascent Systems Technologies addresses it differently however. It uses vacuum tube solar thermal collectors which are more efficient then even the best PV modules, a thermal storage as a battery, and an air-to-water heat pump as a booster. The resulting integrated system is much more cost-effective comparing to a PV-battery system.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Wake up Canada, part 4

Lac-Megantic, Calgary, Saskatchewan, Canadian economy dependency on oil, etc, etc.

And now another wake-up call: Toxic fuel spill in English Bay. How many more we need?

Will we finally open our eyes and see that we are committing a collective suicide?

Dear Government, did industry lobbyists bought the future of your children?

At least Provinces appear to be listening - now it is time for actions!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Ukraine's Best Defense

Ukraine's economy as the rest of Europe's is heavily relies on the natural gas supplied from Russia. In addition to that Ukraine is also dependent on the Donbass coal mines. But it doesn't have to be. Ukraine has the higher solar irradiation potential than Germany - the country with the highest density of the solar generated power in the world.

Ukraine could have much bigger energy potential with solar and other alternative technologies properly configured and installed. They could have completely replace the need for natural gas and coal in the country. 

The best defense for Ukraine and the best "weapons" to be sent there would be renewable technology - to make it energy independent of fossil fuels and of Russia's economic pressure. Same is true for the rest of Europe.


Thursday, January 15, 2015

Global Atlas for Renewable Resources

Global Atlas 2.0 
IRENA, CENER (Spain), DLR (Germany), Masdar Institute (UAE), NREL (USA) and MINES ParisTech (France) are very pleased to announce the release of Global Atlas 2.0. This new version features maps for solar, wind, geothermal, biofuel and marine energy, and includes new functions and tools such as:
- Map gallery: Search maps by keyword, location or source
- Infopicker: Access data, tools and country profiles from REsource – IRENA’s Knowledge Gateway
- Catalog search: Search for more data by name, location, keyword or data quality (beta)
- Universal data viewer: Solar and wind graphs and charts in one click. Data can be downloaded
- User feedback: report your user experience to IRENA
- Share: share maps and values with your network
The Global Atlas initiative is coordinated by IRENA with support from 67 countries and an international consortium of data and expertise providers.
All existing user profiles and maps in the current platform will remain active in the new application.

Array of IEM© Integrated Energy Modules by Ascent Systems Technologies equipped with irradiation and other sensors collecting real-time environment data will provide pinpoint accurate solar, wind and other resource information complementing or directly contributing to the Global Atlas.    

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Technology and Society

We came to rely on technology in almost everything in our life. We already cannot imagine how we lived without cellphones and other "everyday" things.  However the society dependence on technology is also its vulnerability.
Relying on a centralized intertwined interdependent grid can be dangerous. Take down power grid and you will see a true disruption in the very fabric of a country.

Renewable Energy and Protecting the Grid from Terrorism and Natural Disasters
by Tom Lombardo

Onsite generation technologies such as solar, solar thermal, geo-exchange and others - combined with energy conservation measures - will significantly reduce the load on the grid, making it easier to address security threats and natural disaster associated problems. Furthermore, it will allow significantly reducing if not eliminating losses associated with transmission of electricity. Managing, maintaining and upgrading such small individual systems is simpler therefore their operation will be more reliable and predictable. Eventually individual systems would be connected in the intelligent network with the real-time feedback control, in which resources will be shared in the most optimal and efficient way.