11 Dec 2000 UFTO Note - Smart Setback for Room Thermostats
20 Nov 2000 UFTO Note - World Commission on Dams
29 Oct 2000 UFTO Note - Travel Reports
01 Sep 2000 UFTO Note - Las Vegas Energex2000
14 Aug 2000 UFTO Note - TeamFuel-Intelligent Fuel Management
12 Jul 2000 UFTO Note - CO2 Sequestration - DOE Resources
10 Jul 2000 UFTO Note - Fast Pyrolysis of Biomass
22 Jun 2000 UFTO Note - NxtPhase Optical I, V Transducers for High Voltage
13 Jun 2000 UFTO Note - Zero Emission Coal (Los Alamos)
13 Jun 2000 UFTO Note - ELISIMS: Detailed Simulation of Power Industry (Los Alamos)
31 May 2000 UFTO Note - DOE Distributed Power Website
21 May 2000 UFTO Note - DOE Hydrogen Program
07 May 2000 UFTO Note - Amorphous Metal Motors
25 Apr 2000 UFTO Note - Energy Storage Assoc Meeting Notes
30 Mar 2000 UFTO Note - Fuel Cells Discussed on Investors Net Radio Show
27 Mar 2000 UFTO Note - Powercosm: George Gilder Brings a New Paradigm to Power
27 Mar 2000 UFTO Note - Sag Line Mitigator -UPDATE
22 Mar 2000 UFTO Note - Biomass Cofiring
13 Mar 2000 UFTO Note - DOE Final POST Report on Outages
03 Mar 2000 UFTO Note - Startup Company to Develop Wireless Sensors
29 Feb 2000 UFTO Note - QuickStab Stability Limit Predictor Enhanced
21 Feb 2000 UFTO Note - BPA Conf on DG, Renewables
14 Feb 2000 UFTO Note - IEEE DistGen Stds update
04 Feb 2000 UFTO Note - A Proposition for a New "Regulatory Contract"
24 Jan 2000 UFTO Note - Xenergy Distrib Power Study
21 Jan 2000 UFTO News Watch - Not your Father's utility industry
06 Jan 2000 UFTO Note - DOE Power Outage Study
Subject: UFTO Note - Smart Setback for Room Thermostats
Date: Mon, 11 Dec 2000
UFTO Note - Smart Setback for Room Thermostats
Smart Systems International appears to be succeeding where others have failed, in implementing occupancy-based thermostat setback. Applied first in hotel guest rooms, their systems are now seeing increased interest for use in schools and offices. The technology is "smart" enough to overcome the obstacles that have stopped other attempts, i.e. occupant discomfort and impatience, though the solutions they've developed may not be immediately evident.
Upon detailed review, the basis of their success begins to emerge--basically, they've thought the problems through and solved them. The system automatically relaxes the heating or air conditioning when guests leave, but in controlled so that it can be restored to the desired temperature in a fixed amount of time (adjustable to 5, 11, 18 minutes) when they return.
The best indication of the merits of their claims is in the market acceptance they're enjoying with some big name hotel chains and others. Conservation is back in the forefront, and this technology could be a good addition to the arsenal of any ESCO, utility, or building owner.
Ron Davies, President and CEO, or
Tom Kearin, CFO,
Smart Systems International, Las Vegas, NV,
The following material is adapted from the company's website and press releases.
Smart Systems International develops, manufactures and sells patented in-room energy control systems. These products are designed to support three basic requirements: use advanced thermodynamic algorithms to ensure customer comfort is not sacrificed while maximizing energy savings; use state of the art wireless technology to ensure installation takes minutes, not hours; and design for simplicity and low cost. As a result, SSI controls produce energy savings of 20% - 40% per year without compromising customer comfort and deliver pay backs of 12 - 18 months. The system can control through-the-wall units in individual hotel rooms, a central HVAC system with fan coils, heat pumps, or other HVAC equipment.
The company has installed thousands of Smart Systems in hotel rooms across the U.S. from Alaska to Hawaii and the Caribbean including at such marquee brands as Courtyard by Marriott, Crowne Plaza, Embassy Suites, Fairfield by Marriott, Hampton Inn, Holiday Inn, Homestead Village, Silverleaf Resorts, Sunterra Resorts and others. In addition to the lodging industry, Smart Systems is selling its energy controls to schools, home builders, energy services companies and electric utilities, and the US Postal Service. Installations include the Clark County School District, Escambia County (Pensacola Florida) Schools, Miami Dade Schools, Post Offices in Las Vegas Nevada, Sitterle Homes, the Trane Company and the Public Service Company of New Mexico.
Smart Systems International recently announced the completion of an $11.0 million equity financing, which they will use to support increased sales activities and to expand distribution channels, staffing, customer field support, and inventory.
A recent article about the company can be found at:
Smart Systems International Products
Smart Systems 1000
The Smart Systems 1000 is the original "People Sensing Technology" energy
management system. It has been installed in thousands of hotel rooms in
every conceivable climate from Anchorage, Alaska to San Juan, Puerto Rico,
to prove its performance capabilities. Designed for the fancoil and through
the wall systems, the 1000 is just as effective on any window air conditioners.
Hotel owners appreciate not only the ease of installation and lack of maintenance
required, but also, benefit immediately from the drop in peak demand charges,
as well as reduction in energy use of 30-50%. There are two basic models:
a plug 'n' play unit which simply plugs into the nearest outlet, and a
hardwired version which is wired with the HVAC unit.
Smart Systems 2000
The Smart Systems 2000 is the "eye" and "ear" of the base stations and
an intergral link in SSDN. It uses passive infrared motion detectors to
determine occupied and unoccupied states. It has a 25 foot radius and 360
degree detection range when placed on 8 feet ceilings. It communicates
wirelessly through encoded transmissions with the base station. It operates
on 4 AA batteries which last about 3 years.
Smart Systems 5000
The Smart Systems 5000 is the radical new design from Smart Systems.
Unlike its predecessors, it has a user interface and buttons for various
functions unavailable on the Smart Systems 1000. This is the full service
model which accommodates users' sleep time requirements and allows for
the adjustment of recovery time at any time. The icon system of buttons
and large digit LCD have been tested extensively for simplicity, intuitiveness,
and ease of use. All of the instructions in this non-programmable unit
fit neatly inside the cover. An adapter allows it to control HVAC systems
higher than 24 VAC (the standard for home thermostats), making it the ultimate
solution for all HVAC systems: residential, commercial, and industrial.
The 5000 communicates wirelessly with PC's.
The Smart Systems energy management system uses a wireless data and
command network protocol, the Smart Systems Digital Network (SSDN), to
accomplish specific tasks inside and around buildings and premises, including
residential, commercial, and industrial properties. The SSDN is being distributed
to third party vendors for use in integrating SSDN communications technology
in their products. The SSDN is hardware independent and as such can be
set up in many ways. The protocol is based upon a set of common integrated
chips using standard 8-bit UART technologies. The chip set, protocol and
software needed to set up the SSDN are standard and common components and
no special proprietary chip sets, microcode, or software are required.
Download the SSDN by clicking here.
Subject: UFTO Note - World Commission on Dams
Date: Mon, 20 Nov 2000
Even if you're not connected in any way with large scale hydro around the world, this major report issued last week is significant. Imagine the boost to distributed generation and renewables if world opinion rallies against big dams.
The Commission has an extensive website of its own which has more than you'll ever want to know, including the complete report available to download. http://www.dams.org/
The site has links to dozens of press accounts of the announcement last week. (I first heard about it in this week's Economist.) Here is a good overview which arrived here today in an email newsletter. At least it could take your mind off Florida for a few minutes.
World Commission Takes Tough Stance on Dams
LONDON, England - Dams have made an important and significant contribution to human development but, in too many cases, the social and environmental costs have been unacceptable and often unnecessary, according to the final report of the World Commission on Dams (WCD).
Dams deliver significant development services in 140 countries and generate 19 percent of the world's electricity, the WCD says in 'Dams And Development: A New Framework for Decision-Making.' The report was released today in London, with former South African President Nelson Mandela as the group's spokesman.
Dams account for 12 to 16 percent of global food production, and 12 percent of large dams supply domestic and industrial water, as well as provide flood control services in 70 countries. However, they have also demonstrated a marked tendency towards schedule delays and cost overruns, and have led to the loss of forests and wildlife habitat and the loss of aquatic biodiversity of upstream and downstream fisheries, the report notes.
"Large dams display a high degree of variability in delivering predicted water and electricity services and related social benefits - with a considerable portion falling short of physical and economic targets," while others continue to generate benefits after 40 years. The WCD also found that efforts to counter the ecosystem impact of large dams have met with limited success, and the "negative social impacts reflect a pervasive and systematic failure to assess and account for the range of potential negative impacts on displaced and resettled people as well as downstream communities."
Some estimates suggest that as many as 80 million people have been displaced by dams around the world, while the livelihoods of many more who live downstream have been affected. Mitigation, compensation and resettlement programs are often inadequate, it notes.
The report authors claim the final document provides the most comprehensive and independent review of dams, and examines the technical and economic performance of dams, as well as their environmental and social performance, and assesses the potential alternatives to dams to offer insights into "one of the most of the controversial development debates of our time." A number of environmentally and economically viable supply options are emerging, including wind and solar energy, but "obstacles such as market, institutional, intellectual and financial barriers limit the adoption rate" of other renewable energy alternatives, it explains.
The final report seeks to turn costly controversies into clear and productive consensus, and the WCD claims that it has brought together, for the first time, all parties in the increasingly confrontational debate about the role that 45,000 large dams have played in development around the world. The report is the result of two years of consultation in an "unprecedented global public policy process" that was signed unanimously.
"It is one thing to find fault with an existing system," says Mandela. "It is another thing altogether, a more difficult task, to replace it with an approach that is better."
The report proposes a framework for decision-making that moves beyond the simple tradeoffs of costs and benefits, to include a 'rights and risks approach' that recognises all legitimate stakeholders in the negotiation of choices. It proposes a set of core values, strategic priorities, and practical criteria and guidelines to govern future water and energy resources development, and challenges governments and other parties to change the way they view energy and water resources development.
"It means nothing to build billion-dollar dams if your monuments alienate the weak," says WCD chairman Kader Asmal. "It means nothing to stop all dams if your protests only entrench poverty. But show me a clear and sustainable way to provide food, energy, stability and running water for those who most need it -- that means something. And that we have done."
The WCD conducted detailed reviews of large dams in the United States, Turkey, Norway, Zambia, Thailand, Pakistan, Brazil and South Africa, and surveyed 125 large dams and reviews on environmental and economic issues. It recommends 26 guidelines for review and approval of dam projects at five key stages.
"The WCD urges governments, NGOs, businesses, professional associations, aid agencies, utilities and affected peoples to practice what we preach because we preach only what we have practised ourselves," concludes Asmal. "We listened to all sides. We reviewed alternatives. We balanced ideal against possible and made our decision to sign this report with confidence. We exclude only one development option: inaction. The cost of conflict is too high."
"Dams offer huge benefits but sometimes at a large cost," says James Wolfensohn, president of the World Bank, which funds less than 1 percent of dam projects in the world. "Our involvement in large dams has been decreasing and is focusing more on financing dam rehabilitation and safety and much less on financing new dams."
Until 1985, the World Bank financed 3 percent of new dams. There are
800,000 dams around the world, of which approximately 45,000 are categorized
as large or higher than 15 m. The industry is estimated to be worth $42
Subject: UFTO Note - Travel Reports
Date: 29 Oct 2000
UFTO Note - Travels
In September, I attended these three conferences. They were all different, but also had a great deal in common. This writeup attempts to capture major themes and to provide highlights of some of the more interesting developments that came to light. Please don't hesitate to let me know if you'd like further details on anything discussed below (or anything you see on the agendas that I didn't mention).
EESAT Electric Energy Storage Applications and Technologies Conf.
Sept 18-20, 2000, Orlando, FL
Distributed Power Strategies and Business Opportunities
Sept 25-27,2000, Washington, DC
Clean Energy Roundtable
Sept 27-29, 2000, Aspen, CO
One major common theme--
"Attack of the Killer Investment B's"
Many investment banking firms are cranking up bigtime to get a piece of the action in high9s-clean-distributed energy technology. They're starting to "get it" and don't want to miss out, though there's a lot they don't know about it (and their in-house utility analysts aren't much help). They're attending these events in ever increasing force, and also putting on their own!
BofA Securities, CIBC World Markets, Robertson Stephens, First Albany, Deutsche Banc Alex Brown, Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, Lehman … They're issuing research reports, initiating coverage, and investing in and pushing services to companies in this industry. Not only are they coming to energy conferences, they're putting on their own, usually invitation-only for clients and other investors.
- Goldman Sachs will be handling Powercell's (zinc-bromine flow battery) next financing, following a recent $30 Million infusion from a variety of investors.
- Credit Suisse First Boston is acquiring DLJ, which is doing a private placement for ZBB (the other zinc-bromine flow battery).
- Bear Stearns, famous for their very popular 250 page research report, "Distributed Energy Services" back in April, is coming out with one on microturbines in the next couple of weeks, with more to follow.
- Beacon Group, recently acquired by Chase H&Q, has been actively doing energy technology investments alongside their extensive array of more traditional energy sector plays.
- Price Waterhouse Cooper is helping STM (stirling motor) to raise $4M each coming from a coalition of DTE, Delco Remy, Ricardo (engine consultants) and a group from Singapore, to be followed in the near future with a probable private offering.
The main drivers behind all this excitement include deregulation/competition, demand for premium power, environmental concerns (new regs, Kyoto, etc.), and technology advances (renewables, distributed resources, and the internet). Add to that the general supply crunch here and abroad. While there are some aspects of the investment "flavor of the month", these trends are seen as real, irreversible, and significant.
Traditionally, development stage companies are financed by venture capital or corporate money. Now, however, companies are going public earlier and earlier ("pre-earnings" and even "pre-revenue"). This means that retail investors are engaging in "public venture capital" as it has been called, taking on the higher risk of early stage companies.
Speaking plainly, there's a bubble in the pre-ipo and public company
stocks that is similar to what's been happening in the dot-com world and
elsewhere. The players are piling on, and both good and bad can come
of it. While this industry enjoys all the attention and increased
capital (and valuations), there will be a continual shaking out, with big
winners and losers--as we've seen very recently. One just hopes the
losers won't put a drag on the whole sector.
Clean Energy Roundtable http://www.montreuxenergy.com
This is one in a series of invitation-only conferences, many in Europe, targeting senior executives. The "Aspen Clean Energy Roundtable" meeting was the 7th annual such event, with many repeat attendees. A number of major energy companies, bankers, and NGO's were represented, plus a sizable contingent from the DOE National Labs, but just a few utility people. Speakers are strongly discouraged from doing sales pitches, but rather to shed light on big trends and issues.
The biggest trend and issue -- a widely held view that is an absolute necessity to come up with a "low/no carbon" energy future, in light of global climate risks and population growth and economic development. Furthermore, hydrogen is the key, as the main energy carrier of the future. There were a few visionaries who began talking about the potential of a "hydrogen economy" in the mid 70's (during the first oil crisis). Maybe their day is coming.
Another prominent theme was the evolving role of government, from "Nanny"
to enabler. Bruce Stram of Enron Energy Services spoke about this
historic role of government, intervening heavily to cope with market imperfections,
as less necessary as telecommunications and information flow improve.
Instead, government should avoid "command and control" and instead punish
social externalities with penalties, and support a vigorous R&D program.
Swiss Re reviewed their outlook that global climate issues represent
huge risks to the insurance industry, noting losses from hurricanes and
other weather-related damages. They've been very active promoting
Kyoto, emissions trading, and clean development mechanisms.
Shell Hydrogen is a new independent business within the Shell group.
CEO Don Huberts explained the parent company's commitment to sustainable
development (disposed of coal assets, and set up Shell Renewables and Shell
Hydrogen). He described a 250 kW SOFC installation in Norway integrated
with fish farming, use of an SOFC with injection of CO2 into depleted wells
and deep aquifers, commercial and residential CHP with SOFC or PEM, and
a proprietary natural gas processor to make hydrogen for residential fuel
Valuing Renewables -- Shimon Awerbuch of ICF Consulting reviewed his
work on using a portfolio approach to valuing renewables. Traditional
engineering-based approaches are completely inadequate--they ignore financial
risk; they didn't work in manufacturing (completely missed computers, robotics,
and CAD); and they don't work for high capital, low operating cost projects.
Portfolio concepts are routinely applied in securities investment, where
adding even a higher cost (lower return) investment to a portfolio can
reduce the total risk, for an overall better result. See his articles
Public Utilities Fortnightly, Feb 15, 2000, and Energy Policy (to
be published) firstname.lastname@example.org
Other presentations included:
CMS Energy is pursuing environmentally friendly technology solutions, including microturbines for gas field pumping operations, a methanol plant installed in Africa to eliminate a massive gas flare, and their own "virtual power plant" program they're calling Elan (electric local area network).
Honeywell's microturbine group sees their devices fitting into a seamless array of energy management systems, controlled over the internet in real time.
Stirling Energy Systems, in Phoenix, is gearing up to develop huge solar power farms using dish concentrators with the Swedish-made Kockums stirling engine.
H-Power is aggressively pursuing rural markets for their existing commercial
small scale PEM fuel cell systems.
Electric Energy Storage Applications and Technologies Conf.
The message is similar to the June ESA meeting [See UFTO Note, 25 April,
--storage is coming into its own, as part of the boom in new energy technology, along with DG, renewables, premium power, etc. The complete proceedings will be published in hardcopy and on a CD, by early December.
Keynoter Bill Parks, the lead for DOE's new Distributed Power effort, [UFTO Note May 31] noted the convergence of many issues, including growth (economic, population and energy demand), price spikes, high oil imports, power quality needs, air and water quality, and climate change. New companies are entering, and everyone proclaims to be green. On top of that, average energy efficiency in the US hasn't improved, capacity margins are below 10%, and power infrastructure is aging. DOE's expanded efforts will go beyond the core technology R&D emphasis, to deal with systems, and to address institutional barriers. For example, the IRS is reviewing depreciation schedules for CHP and DG.
Value of Storage - Tom Jenkin, Brattle Group, described an LP model they've developed to analyze in detail the arbitrage possibilities for a storage system. The model calculates the maximum net revenue over a one week period by optimizing the use of a generic storage device, hour by hour. At any given time, the device can do one of four things: charge (i.e. buy energy), sell energy, sell reserve capacity, or do nothing. Using price data for the California ISO, initial results suggest a capital cost of $250-$750/kW can be supported in this kind of application. email@example.com, 617-864-1576.
At EA Technology (UK), they've developed a model to calculate net present value cost-benefit of various storage technologies in various applications. Alan Collinson, firstname.lastname@example.org
Regenesys, the National Power spin off, has announced their first commercial scale project (120 MWH, 15 MW) at a power plant in the UK. This is one of the prominent "flow" battery technologies discussed several times before in UFTO Notes. Notably, they have qualified it to provide blackstart, in addition to energy management, arbitrage, and frequency and voltage regulation. They also have an initial agreement with TVA to the first N American installation.
Tokyo Electric is getting good results with their advanced sealed Sodium-Sulfur battery. A key to safety is an innovative self-shut down mechanism where an inner tube expands if heated (by the reactions that would result from a leak) and blocks the ceramic electrolyte. A 6 MW, 48 MWH system has been operating since mid 1999, for load leveling and ancillary services.
AutoCap reported on the advantages of charging battery cells individually, greatly extending the expected life of batteries in large systems. When an entire string of cells are charged in series, due to variations some cells are overcharged and some undercharged. They've developed a system with an isolated charger, and a cell selector device that monitors and charges one cell at a time. This applies only to the maintenance charging, not the heavy recharging cycle after a discharge.
New Supercapacitor -- there are countless stories around about ultracaps or supercaps. Many use low voltage aqueous electrolyte concepts, with extremely high surface area electrodes made of very porous materials, and utilizing the double layer effect. Though they can deliver unheard of capacitance in small packages (farads instead of microfarads), these cells have problems with high impedance and self-discharge. To reach any useful working voltage, cells must be put in series, and run into additional issues to do with voltage balance. According to tests of an 11,000 Farad unit at EPRI PEAC, a Russian company has a breakthrough concept involves an asymmetrical design, which solves these problems, and can deliver very high discharge rates over a wide temperature range, with high specific energy.
From the website: http://www.esma-cap.com
"JSC ESMA electrochemical capacitors utilize a polar cell and aqueous electrolyte. The negative electrode is made of an activated carbon material having high surface area, where electric energy is accumulated at the electric double layer. The positive electrode is made of nickel hydroxide and designed for high charge/discharge rate. This combination of electrodes provides a 4-5 times increase in specific energy over capacitors designed with both electrodes made of a carbon material. The maximum operating voltage of the cells ranges from 1.3 to 1.6 V depending on the capacitor type and its operating mode. The capacitor is prismatic in shape, with a case made of plastic. It has a resealable safety valve in its cover to release gas during improper use when a certain value of excess pressure is reached. JSC ESMA capacitors have been designed to remain in service even if the operating voltage level is exceeded. Capacitor operating characteristics do not degrade if the capacitor is operated under an excessive voltage level over a short time. The capacitors can withstand a short circuit current caused by improper handling."
Emitter Turn-Off Thyristor (ETO) is a new solid state switch developed at Virginia Tech that promises great improvement over GTOs and IGBTs. It is a hybrid based on the GTO and MOSFET. It is much smaller and simpler, it uses less drive power, and it is 10 times faster -- it can turn off 3000 amps in 2-3 microseconds, vs. 30 for present devices. This speed will enable switches that can react to faults in time to safely turn off rather than relying on fusing. Virginia Tech is actively looking for licensees to commercialize the ETO. (I have pdf copies of the full paper and the patent application.)
Zinc Bromine Flow Batteries (ZBB & Powercell) Powercell's standard unit is the PowerBlock, 100kW/100kWh, in one self contained package complete with power electronics, is in production. (http://www.powercell.com) ZBB Technologies Inc. in Wisconsin is developing a larger utility scale version, with DOE funding. Two 400 kWh demonstration units are being installed on Detroit Edison's system this Fall. Though based on the same original work at Exxon years ago, the two programs have important design differences.
Active Power, following on their very successful IPO, has a deal with Caterpillar, who is selling systems under the name CAT 250. This is a 250 KVA, 12 sec system. A price of $250-325/KVA was mentioned. Active Power has also recently built active harmonic filtering into the package. Duke Power reported on a demo installation at one of their customer sites.
Magnet-Motor (Germany) reported on their use of 2KWH/150 KW flywheels on public buses, ever since 1988. Company website: http://www.magnet-motor.de/homeengl.htm
Several programs are working on flywheels using superconducting magnetic
bearings: the Shikoku Research Institute, Chubu Electric with Mitsubishi,
and Boeing Phantom Works. This last one appears to have some resemblance
to the earlier work at Argonne that was supported in part by ComEd.
It is funded under the DOE Superconductivity Initiative.
Distributed Power Strategies and Business Opportunities
Sept 25-27,2000, Washington, DC
One of dozens of conferences on distributed power, this one had some
big names and a high level of international participation, but no big announcements
or new insights. As usual, the networking opportunities were at least
if not more valuable than the sessions.
Ake Almgren, CEO of Capstone, was co-chair, with Mark Fallek of DTE Energy. In his opening remarks he noted that DG and central station plants are both needed, it's not an either-or situation. DG can be thought of as another way to "distribute" power, not to "generate" it. Central station plants have a very long lead time, and difficult siting requirements. Also, T&D costs contribute as much as $4-500/KW to the price of power, which DG can avoid. Fallek cited some future global market estimates for DG of $38 billion/year. Premium power, now a $50 billion market, is growing at 30%/yr, suggesting $500 billion in 15 years.
Bob Shaw, who single-handedly invented venture capital in new energy technology, and who helped start many of the notable companies now making headlines, gave a perspective that was extremely bullish on DG and renewables, but a bit alarmed about the "bubble" situation. He is convinced that DG really will take over from central station power, sooner rather than later. DG is a perfect case of a "disruptive technology". The engines built by US automakers every year are equivalent to the capacity of the entire US generating system. So, an industry 1/10 the size of Detroit could replace that system in a mere 10 years. The fact that VCs and Wall Street see energy technology as the "next big thing" is making capital available to this sector as never before, but it is also leading to unsustainable valuations that could become problematic. The paper is available online: http://www.arete-microgen.com. I also have a copy of the powerpoint presentation, which provides some additional material.
"First, Second, or Third Coming??"
Is DG just a replay of one or two previous episodes, or very different this time? Shaw clearly espoused the latter view, but others were less convinced. In the 60's, a midwestern gas company pushed a "total energy" concept based on reciprocating engines; maintenance problems and the poor suitability of recips to baseload operation proved the undoing. In the 80's, the PURPA QF provisions led to a swarm of packaged cogen installations; QF contracts have all but faded from the scene. Shaw maintains that today's convergence of developments is really different. Robert Swanekamp, editor of Power Magazine, took an extreme contrarian position that DG is a non-event, and that 1/2 of the large CCGT's on order will be cancelled as a power glut emerges. He said he had no knowledge of the disruptive technology argument, but that didn't stop him from dismissing it. (He was probably the only person present who hadn't heard about Clayton Christensen's ideas and their relevance to DG. See UFTO Note 19 April 1999; or http://www.disruptivetechnologies.com/)
Technologies -- there were a dozen or more presentations by companies: makers of fuel cells, stirling engines, and microturbines; power electronics, internet-based controls and energy management; and O&M.
Barriers -- reports on the EEI and IEEE interconnection efforts; an excellent overview of competitive, institutional, regulatory and financial obstacles by Nat Treadway, (for a similar presentation, see http://www.leeric.lsu.edu/deri/info/may2000/treadway.pdf)
Subject: UFTO Note - Las Vegas Energex2000
Date: Fri, 01 Sep 2000
Las Vegas Lemonade
Riviera Hotel Convention Center, LAS VEGAS, USA
JULY 23-28, 2000
If ever there was a time to make lemonade (i.e. when the world gives you lemons), this conference was it. One of the worst organized, most jumbled, and light on content imaginable. A great many speakers simply didn't show up. Attendance was mostly by DOE, 3rd world energy officials, academics, and a few vendors and entrepreneurs. It was also very heavy on Nevada as a great place to do business, most notably development of the Nevada Test Site. (Also, I would not recommend the Riviera Hotel.)
So, for some lemonade. Plenary speeches, which mostly consisted of high level pep talks and very general overviews of the energy situation around the world, did offer a few good points.
- Dan Reicher (DOE Assist. Secty for Energy Effic) gave an optimistic and aggressive account of DOE's commitments to renewables and efficiency, with emphasis on cost-effectiveness. He noted that in 1999, for the first time, more new windpower came on line than new nuclear.
- Nevada State Senator Randolph Townsend, who spearheaded deregulation in Nevada, actually said--if your legislators ever tell you they think they know what's best, they're dead wrong. The whole business of deregulation is one of surprises and unintended consequences.
- Admiral Truly, Director of NREL, suggested that the growth of the petroleum industry in the first half of the 20th century is going to prove to be an excellent analogy for what is starting to happen with biomass refining in the 21st century.
- Richard Sonstelie, recently retired CEO of Puget Sound Power, explained that the utility industry has always known that generation, transmission and distribution are entirely different businesses, and that generation has never been a natural monopoly. He went on to develop the idea that distribution isn't either, and that it's been terribly oversimplified. Distribution actually consists of a long list of distinct businesses (e.g., network planning, construction, outage response, call centers, customer research, energy procurement, meter reading, billing and collections, etc.). The only aspect of the pipes and wires business that can even begin to be viewed as a natural monopoly is the ownership of pipes and wires--in that it doesn't make sense to have more than one set in any given location (there are exceptions to this, as we know, and some would argue the point.). Therefore, it isn't necessary to treat the entire Disco as a regulated monopoly. Most of its activities can be handled on a competitive business model, with incentives and penalties to assure that service/reliability standards are met. After all, pipes and wires are "transportation" businesses, and their metrics should more like those applied to Federal Express. Utilities are already outsourcing what they're not best at, and some are doing for other utilities--as new lines of business--what they're good at themselves.
- Jan Pepper, renewables expert and until recently with APX, in charge of setting up their green power market, outlined the growing scale of green power programs. Eight states have already adopted renewable portfolio standards, and 13 have systems benefit charge used to support green power. Truth in labeling/certification agencies are emerging. An intriguing new trend--the "green" attribute of green power can be traded separately from the actual KWH's themselves. This enhances the marketability of power from intermittent generators.
Two topics that got a lot of attention: Building Heating, Cooling and Power (BCHP is the new acronym) and geothermal, particularly the local heating and cooling variety. (If there is interest, I can provide more information on these items.)
Building Heating, Cooling and Power (BCHP)
The DOE has gotten very interested in on-site generation which maximizes the use of the waste heat for heating and cooling. The BCHP Initiative has over 70 participants, including government, utilities, ESCOs, manufacturers, vendors, etc. http://www.bchp.org/
The gas industry continues to push hard on gas cooling. The GAX
heat pump technology promises 30% higher efficiency than the best gas furnace,
and 100 beta units will go into the field next year. There is increasing
emphasis on humidity control through the use of dessicants.
Rocky Research is a technology development company in Las Vegas that has a impressive array of work going on in heating, cooling and refrigeration, and is looking for commercialization partners for several of its technologies. http://www.rockyresearch.com
Geothermal Heat Pump Consortium is a non-profit organization advancing
the use of "GeoExchange" heating and cooling systems, notably in commercial
and industrial applications, in addition to residential. (GeoExchange Systems
work by moving heat, rather than by converting chemical energy to heat
like in a furnace. Every GeoExchange System has three major subsystems
or parts: a geothermal heat pump to move heat between the building and
the fluid in the earth connection, an earth connection for transferring
heat between its fluid and the earth, and a distribution subsystem for
delivering heating or cooling to the building.)
One supplier, ClimateMaster, offers a range of advanced products geared
to commerical and residential, including a split system that can be used
in combination with a traditional furnace.
The most unusual find--I met a German project developer with a story
about a "solar chimney". They actually built a demo in Spain (with
Finosa), with at 200 meter chimney that ran for 7 years. The fullscale
design calls for a 950 meter chimney, 135 meters in diameter, surrounded
by 4 mile diameter circular heat absorber structure (like a greenhouse
roof). Heat rising through the chimney will generate 100 MW by turning
a fan blade in the base. Crops can be grown in the covered area,
and black tubing filled with water can provide storage to make power 24
hours a day. They already have permitted projects and are raising
money. The company also has a number of solar trough programs in
Spain, Crete and Jordan.
UFTO Note - TeamFuel-Intelligent Fuel Management
Date: Mon, 14 Aug 2000 16:16:54 -0700
TeamFuel.com--Intelligent fuel management.
A profitable existing company is going to a new stage of growth, with a new name and fully web-enabled extension of their business model. Acting directly on behalf of buyers of liquid petroleum fuels, they monitor (wireless/internet) the level of fuel in the customer's tank, optimize fuel purchasing, and arrange delivery, taking a fixed fee per gallon delivered.
As a result, the customer:
- No longer has to manage their own fuel tank inventory
- Is assured that tanks will never run out of fuel
- No longer needs to negotiate decentralized contracts or daily pricing
- Can leverage their volume through TeamFuel purchasing power
- Is guaranteed the lowest possible price and optimal delivery of their fuel
They already have several major utilities as satisfied clients (APS, PSEG, SoCalEdison, ) and provide them with either fleet fuel or generation fuel.
The teamfuel.com website will be up in another week or two. Dynamic Inventory Management actually occurs on password protected intranet sites, one for each client.
They are seeking equity investment in two rounds, one now and the second next year, to scale up their software/server capabilities and add sales and marketing staff.
An executive summary and business plan are available for possible investors. New customer contacts are also more than welcome. If you'd like more information, contact
Bill Green, CEO email@example.com 415-381-2783
Here is a brief summary posted on garage.com (a new silicon valley company supporting startups by providing access to angel and venture investors http://www.garage.com)
Each year U.S. commercial vehicle fleets, utilities, railroads, and airlines spend more than $100 billion on fuel. This fuel is stored in and distributed via a network of 200,000 tanks, which range in size from 10,000 gallons to over 100,000 gallons. The variable consumption patterns of these tanks - along with environmental compliance laws, interstate fuel tax calculations, and fluctuating fuel prices - make the procurement and management of fuel for these tanks a time consuming and expensive proposition for tank owners. TeamFuel provides an outsourced fuel management solution that acts as a intermediary between the thousands of local fuel suppliers and the tanks they service.
TeamFuel's software and remote monitoring solutions optimize fuel purchases (via demand aggregation and market timing), resolve complex environmental and tax issues, and deliver guaranteed savings to fleets and tank owners. Unlike FuelQuest, which is a marketplace for suppliers, and FuelMan, which focuses on over-the-road fuel purchases by truck drivers, TeamFuel addresses the needs of fleets and tank owners.
TeamFuel's dynamic inventory replenishment strategy is currently used by Walt Disney, Frito-Lay, Laidlaw, Southern California Edison, Toys "R" Us, Arizona Public Service, and 65 other companies. These customers have signed long-term management contracts, with a fixed fee per gallon, for TeamFuel's services. The Company profitably generated revenues of $1.2 million in 1999. 2004 revenues are projected to be $88 million.
TeamFuel's management team and 12-person staff have deep experience
in the fuel and energy industry. The Company's CEO previously founded a
chemical exchange and has extensive experience in supply chain management.
The founder and President of TeamFuel has been involved with fuel procurement
outsourcing for more than 20 years.
Subject: UFTO Note - CO2 Sequestration - DOE Resources
Date: Wed, 12 Jul 2000
CO2 Sequestration - DOE Resources
(One of a series of UFTO Notes based in part on the recent visit to Los Alamos National Laboratory)
The Dept of Energy is very active in this arena, and is exploring a
wide range of approaches, both near and long term. Here are links to various
DOE and lab websites which offer a number of reports, studies, plans, and
Advanced Process Concepts for Carbon Management Workshop
A invitational workshop was held last March, to identify and assess a number of advanced concepts for carbon management and to obtain industrial support for the most promising concepts. [Unfortunately, very few utility representatives attended.]
The workshop was sponsored by the Center for Applied Research in Carbon Management [CARCM, a joint effort between the National Energy Technology Lab (NETL) and Los Alamos National Lab (LANL)]. It was hosted by Texas Utilities (TXU) in Dallas on March 20 & 21, 2000 with 33 participants. Complete details and copies of the presentations are available at:
The "Summary of Breakout Sessions" provides a good overview of the conference conclusions.
Abstract: Innovative thinkers from national labs, universities, government,
and industry were brought together in a workshop to develop a working definition
of advanced/novel carbon sequestration concepts, assess the technical and
financial risks associated with several examples, and identify new examples.
Four breakout sessions discussed carbon dioxide extraction from air, coupling
energy production with carbon sequestration, biological/terrestrial approaches,
R. Tom Baker, Los Alamos National Lab
Subject: UFTO Note - Fast Pyrolysis of Biomass
Date: Mon, 10 Jul 2000
Fast Pyrolysis of Biomass
To convert residue fuels such as forest or agricultural feedstock, municipal solid wastes or tires into useful clean gas or liquid fuels, the main option today is gasification. Gasification systems - bubbling, circulating and entrained beds - produce low calorific value gases, are capital intensive, and require large plant sizes to be cost effective. They are therefore inappropriate for many residue fuels such as tires or agricultural wastes. Pyrolysis, and "rapid" pyrolysis in particular, offers a possible alternative with the following advantages:
-Lower vapor volumes which reduce emissions and capital cost.
-Elimination of the production of alkali vapors, simplifying clean-up.
-Reduced operating temperatures which minimizes the formation of poly-nuclear aromatics, in turn improving the efficacy of cracking or steam reformation prior to use in the fuel cell.
- Fast pyrolysis yields larger quantities of fuel vapor with simpler organic moieties.
[Pyrolysis involves heating in the absence of oxygen, resulting in gases, liquids and char (e.g. charcoal) in varying proportions. "Fast" heating, at lower temperature, is preferred, as it results in less char and fewer complex chemical products from subsequent reactions. Gasification, in fact, can be seen as a special case of pyrolysis, where admitting some air helps to maximize gas production over liquids and char.]
Capital and operating cost for a pyrolysis plant is directly related to heat transfer rate. Presently, most rapid pyrolysis processes use conventional entrained flow or fluidized beds which have good heat transfer rates but require small particle sizes, less than 0.08 inches, to achieve the desired residence times (less than 2 seconds) for rapid pyrolysis.
"Ablative" pyrolysis can increase heat transfer rates. The particle is abraded against the hot surface, removing reaction products and exposing fresh material for reaction.
The two ablative processes which are being developed utilize centrifugal force to achieve the required pressure on the particle to sustain ablative pyrolysis. From the operating characteristics of these processes, vortex reactor of NREL and centrifugal pipe design of Enervision Inc, it would appear that these systems cannot provide enough force on the particle to sustain ablative pyrolysis throughout the residence time of the particle. As a result large particles cannot be effectively converted.
Mechanical ablative reactors with low carrier gas requirements are under development in England and the Netherlands. From the data available, it is not obvious how easy it will be to scale these systems to commercial sizes and how effective they will be in handling a wide range of materials and particle sizes.
DynaMotive, a Canadian company which acquired rights to a fluid bed
technology developed at Waterloo University, is making "BioFuel" with their
BioTherm Fast Pyrolysis Technology.
------- references: ---------
"Principles and Practice of Biomass Fast Pyrolysis Processes for Liquids", A.V. Bridgewater, Journal of Analytical and Applied Physics 51 (1999). (20 pages) offers a thorough review of the subject. (If you have trouble getting it, I have a low quality fax copy.)
Bridgewater has also authored a couple of books on the subject.
Down Stream Systems, a small company in California in the waste conversion technology business, is proposing a " mechanical ablative pyrolysis" (MAP) unit, currently patent pending in the USA, which offers the potential for the following:
- Simplicity of design with high rates of heat transfer.
- Ability to handle a wide range of particle sizes and residue materials.
- Moderate capital cost and, therefore, the ability to site close to local sources of residue fuel.
- Minimum carrier gas requirements and low vapor volumes with associated reduction in gas clean-up costs.
- System operating temperatures, which avoid the production of alkali vapors and poly-aromatic hydrocarbons. This simplifies gas treatment for use in fuel cells.
An earlier version of the process converted 50 tons per day at a high conversion efficiency. The feedstock however, had to be finely ground. The new MAP process is designed to overcome this critical limitation. It is projected that a 50 ton per day biomass system will produce 10,000 gallons of bio-oil similar to a #2 diesel, but having somewhat less than half the energy. An appropriate site and supply of 50 ton per day of biomass for a prototype system is available.
Before installing the prototype, a series of tests will be run in a 0.5 tpd pilot scale MAP reactor. The company is seeking funding to build and install the pilot scale reactor and to perform the tests.
The pilot reactor will operate under the same conversion conditions as earlier fast acting reactors except for its unique mechanical ablation feature. The test system will be tuned until it efficiently vaporizes coarse organics. A series of tests will then be run to optimize conversion parameters, followed by steady state runs at optimal conversion settings to establish mass/energy balances, characterize the products and provide design data for the commercial demonstration. An independent consulting firm will be retained to observe the control tests and confirm process viability.
The required funding is on the order of $300,000. The company has a proposal involving equity shares in a new holding company, however they are open to other arrangements. A detailed business plan and technical proposal can be provided on request.
Bob McChesney, Vice President
Down Stream Systems, Inc., Folsom, CA
323-249-5303 (at their recycling facility on Los Angeles)
Subject: UFTO Note - NxtPhase Optical I, V Transducers for High Voltage
Date: Thu, 22 Jun 2000
NxtPhase Optical I, V Transducers for High Voltage
NxtPhase Corp., Vancouver BC, has developed a family of optical sensors to measure current, voltage, and power in high voltage power systems. These devices appear to be on the verge of becoming a commercial reality, and offer high accuracy, bandwidth and dynamic range. Integrated into the all-digital electronic substation measurement and control system of the future, they will help revolutionize metering, protection, and power quality management.
These optical voltage and current sensing technologies came out of two parallel independent development programs - one in the US and the other in Canada.
Honeywell applied fiber-optic gyro technology developed for demanding civil and military navigation applications to the measurement of current, and teamed with Texas A&M to produce a sensor. The first deployment was with Arizona Public Service at the Cholla Generating Station in 1997 where accuracy of 0.03 per cent has been demonstrated. Honeywell entered into a partnership NxtPhase, who has a complementary voltage technology and a similar market vision.
The other half of the NxtPhase story begins with Carmanah Engineering Ltd. - a successful hi-tech spin-off from the University of British Columbia (UBC). Carmanah, UBC and BC Hydro partnered to develop an integrated optic voltage sensing technology based on a unique electric field sensor called the Integrated Optic Pockels Cell (IOPC). Significant technological breakthroughs led to an extremely accurate optical voltage transducer that avoids the environmental concerns of alternative optical or conventional technologies. The first IOPC sensor was successfully deployed in 1997 at the Ingledow substation of BC Hydro.
Optical Voltage and Current Transducer--
The NXVCT combines both the optical voltage and current transducers in one instrument, over the range of transmission voltages from 69 kV to 765 kV.
- Accurate metering of independent power plants (The dynamic range means accuracy at 1 amp and at 100,000 amps. This can have substantial revenue implications, with the ability to measure power inflow when a plant is not producing power);
- High bandwidth monitoring of power plants, i.e. transients and harmonics; and
- High voltage power quality measurements, to diagnose equipment failures.
Very shortly a technology alliance with BC Hydro will be announced. BC Hydro will conduct field trials to test and demonstrate the devices at one of its high voltage substations to verify performance over time, and at various operating temperatures. The company is looking for customers, partners and investors. They are already in discussions with several UFTO companies and others.
For more information about the company and its products, the website
Richard MacKellar, CEO, NxtPhase Corp., Vancouver BC
604-215-9822 x 222, firstname.lastname@example.org
Steve Dolling, Director, Marketing
604-215-9822 x233, email@example.com
Further details on the technology are available:
"Design Options Using Optical Current and Voltage Transducers
in a High Voltage Substation"
IEEE PES Substation Committee Annual Meeting May 1, 2000
Powerpoint presentation gives a good overview.
Here is the first page of each of two articles, and links for the pdf downloads.
"Optical Voltage Transducers for High-Voltage Applications"
Optical methods for the measurement of current and voltage in high-voltage (HV) environments have been attracting more and more attention in the recent years. This is mostly due to the advantages that they offer over conventional instrument transformers. They provide immunity to electromagnetic interference, are typically non-intrusive, provide excellent galvanic isolation, are much lighter and, therefore, easier to transport and install. Early work on optical current and voltage sensing in the HV environment started in the 1970's [1-5] leading to more practical and accurate systems developed in the 1980's and 1990's [6-13]. Also, at the commercial level, current sensing technology (both for technical and economical reasons) led voltage sensing technology. In this paper, we present results obtained using NxtPhase's optical voltage transducer, NXVT.
Most practical optical voltage sensors use electric field sensors that operate using the linear electro-optic (or Pockels) effect. It should be noted that the sensors themselves are, strictly speaking, electric field sensors and not voltage sensors. However, various means of getting a one-to-one relationship between the voltage applied and the electric field sensed are used to derive voltage. For example the entire voltage can be applied across the electro-optic crystal, or a capacitive divider can be used to apply a well-known fraction of the voltage to be measured across an optical electric field sensors. There are advantages and disadvantages to each of these methods. Nevertheless, most successful devices in the past have used optical fibers for the transmission of light, bulk electric field sensors as sensing elements, and SF6 gas for insulation.
The NXVT introduced here combines the typical benefits of optical sensing technology with some additional features that provide further benefits to the user. For example, it does not use SF6 or oil-paper insulation, making it more environmentally friendly and much safer to use. The NXVT uses multiple miniature electric field sensors inside a high-quality post insulator, in a proprietary manner, to measure voltage with high accuracy.
"Optical Current Transducers for High Voltage Applications"
Over the past 15 years, optical current sensors have received significant attention by a number of research groups around the world as next generation high voltage measurement devices, with a view to replacing iron-core current transformers in the electric power industry. Optical current sensors bring the significant advantages that they are non-conductive and lightweight, which can allow for much simpler insulation and mounting designs. In addition, optical sensors do not exhibit hysteresis and provide a much larger dynamic range and frequency response than iron-core CTs.
A common theme of many of the optical current sensors is that they work on the principle of the Faraday effect. Current flowing in a conductor induces a magnetic field, which, through the Faraday effect, rotates the plane of polarization of the light traveling in a sensing path encircling the conductor. Ampere's law guarantees that if the light is uniformly sensitive to magnetic field all along the sensing path, and the sensing path defines a closed loop, then the accumulated rotation of the plane of polarization of the light is directly proportional to the current flowing in the enclosed wire. The sensor is insensitive to all externally generated magnetic fields such as those created by currents flowing in nearby wires. A measurement of the polarization state rotation thus yields a measurement of the desired current.
The optical current transducer being developed by NxtPhase (the NXCT) is an offshoot from the Honeywell fiber optic gyro program. Honeywell has been producing fiber optic gyros for a variety of commercial aviation applications since 1992. Extensive life and reliability testing has been carried out on the product to meet the stringent flight qualification criteria. Early on, Honeywell realized that this technology, with only minor modifications, could be applied to the field of current sensing, and a program to diversify into this area was maintained by Honeywell for several years. In late 1999, Honeywell joined with Carmanah Engineering to launch NxtPhase with the charter of commercializing the technology.
Principle of Operation
The NXCT uses the Faraday effect, but in a different architecture than the more well known polarimetric technique. The NXCT is a fiber optic current sensor and it works on the principle that the magnetic field, rather than rotating a linearly polarized light wave, changes the velocities of circularly polarized light waves within a sensing fiber wound around the current carrying conductor . The effect is the same Faraday effect but differently formulated. We have found in our experience and heritage from the Honeywell fiber-optic gyroscope program that, for a variety of reasons, it is easier to accurately measure changes in light velocity than changes in polarization state. Chief among these reasons is that by using a velocity measurement scheme, we do not need to construct the sensing region from annealed fiber which is brittle and difficult to work with in a production environment.
Subject: UFTO Note-Zero Emission Coal (Los Alamos)
Date: Tue, 13 Jun 2000 13:27:02 -0700
(One of a series of UFTO Notes based on the recent visit to Los Alamos National Laboratory)
Zero Emission Coal
Los Alamos is working to eliminate the environmental concerns associated with the use of fossil fuel, which will continue to be an important energy source well into this century. One technology the Laboratory is developing to achieve this goal is a zero emission process for converting coal and water into hydrogen, which is then converted into electricity, with virtually no emissions of pollutants. Thirteen entities with interests in coal production and energy generation have teamed up to form the Zero Emission Coal Alliance (ZECA) which plans to commercialize this process within five years.
The Technology In the context of DOE's "Vision 21" goal to eliminate environmental concerns from the use of coal. Los Alamos is developing technology to achieve a zero emission process for converting a coal and water slurry into hydrogen, which is in turn converted to electricity via a high-temperature solid-oxide fuel cell.
The new process builds on CONSOL's CO2 Acceptor Process, which was piloted in the 1970's. While still relying on cycling of calcium oxide (CaO) to drive the production of hydrogen, enhancements produce separate streams of hydrogen and CO2. The hydrogen is used to generate emission-free electricity and the CO2 is reacted with abundant magnesium silicates to be permanently sequestered as a solid, inert and stable mineral carbonate.
Hydrogen gas is produced from water and coal using a calcium oxide (CaO) to calcium carbonate (CaCO3) intermediary reaction. Through a subsequent reaction, the calcium carbonate generated by hydrogen production is converted back into calcium oxide and a pressurized stream of pure CO2. The calcium oxide is recycled to drive further hydrogen production, and the CO2 stream is ready for easy disposal.
The hydrogen is fed to solid-oxide fuel cells to generate electric power, and the ~50% of waste heat produced by the fuel cells is not truly wasted because it is reinjected into the process to drive the calcination reaction.
The already pressurized CO2 stream is reacted with magnesium or calcium silicate mineral deposits to form geologically stable mineral carbonates. (The reaction is part of the natural geological carbon cycle; therefore, all mineral end products are naturally occurring and completely benign.) The mineral sequestration process is economically viable because the CO2 stream is non-mechanically pressurized in the hydrogen production process and the carbonation reaction is exothermic (i.e., it creates energy instead of consuming it).
In addition, the types of mineral deposits needed to carry out the reaction
are abundant enough to handle all the carbon associated with the world's
coal reserves. Magnesium-rich ultramafic rocks, primarily peridotites
and serpentinites, are the main candidates for mineral carbonation.
Deposits distributed throughout the world, though in specific concentrated
areas on each continent.
Thirteen entities from the United States and Canada with interests in coal production and the use of coal for electrical generation have agreed to contribute $50,000 each to form ZECA.
Phase I: ZECA is currently structured with an executive team headed by Jim Berson, Director of Planning and Business Development from Kennecott Energy/Rio Tinto, a technology team headed by Dr. Hans Ziock, senior scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory, and a business team headed by Alan Johnson, President of The Coal Association of Canada. The goal of Phase I is to develop a business plan and a technical plan leading to the completion of a pilot plant in a five year time frame.
ZECA has begun to proceed with Phase I. The alliance however still welcomes the participation of additional members to ensure a broad spectrum of industry participation and expertise. As alliance members, participants in Phase I have the opportunity to help guide the work conducted under the supervision of the technical and business committees, as well as the opportunity to serve or participate on those committees at their discretion.
Additional information is available online:
for technical information:
Klaus Lackner, 505-667-5694, firstname.lastname@example.org
Hans Ziock, 505-667-7265, email@example.com
for business information:
Jim Berson, 307-687-6049, firstname.lastname@example.org
Alan Johnson, 403-262-1544, email@example.com
(I have several technical papers from Los Alamos, which I can
Subject: UFTO Note- ELISIMS: Detailed Simulation of Power Industry (Los Alamos)
Date: Tue, 13 Jun 2000 13:21:49 -0700
(One of a series of UFTO Notes based on the recent visit to Los Alamos National Laboratory)
"A Comprehensive, Detailed Simulation of the Electric-Power Industry: Harnessing the Los Alamos National Laboratory High-Perfomance Computing Infrastructure,"
Los Alamos is proposing to use their supercomputing capabilities to address policy analysis of utility restructuring by modeling the entire power system at an unprecedented level of detail -- and breadth. Building on experience in transportation modeling**, they suggest that computer simulation at a sufficient level of detail calls for very high-performance computing: (from the abstract of a paper LA-UR-98-5920 )
------- "The electric-power infrastructure is a complex system consisting of hundreds of thousands of independent agents coupled by a dynamically constrained transmission system. Actions of the independent agents are governed by both economic objectives and constraints imposed by federal, state, and local policies. Purchasing decisions by millions of independent consumers constrained jointly by market policies and transmission-system realities will lead to unexpected emergent system behavior with potential consequences on reliability and quality.
Prior testing of energy policy is required, and this requires computer simulation. To do this at a sufficient level of detail calls for high-performance computing and the analysis and validation of emergent behavior." -------
The plan is ambitious: (from LA-UR-98-4952)
------ "In a nutshell, we propose to develop and deploy a comprehensive, detailed simulation of the electric industry:
- Comprehensive in that we will include the whole North American continent because that natural limit is becoming the scale of tight interconnection.
- Detailed in that we will include each significant element at the level of generators, transmission elements, varied control elements, and load distribution buses.
- Industry in that we will include the regulatory, financial, and market entities that interact with the engineering elements.
We will design a linked multi-resolution simulation hierarchy with which users may instantiate as much detail and as great a (geographic) scope as required for their particular analyses. Stability studies may require complete calculations in both scope and detail. Other studies (made cheaper by employing either the mixed resolution or a reduced scale) will be more secure with the ability to validate against the full calculations." --------
The goal is to capture both power flow and market dynamics together, in a way that hasn't been accomplished before. A pilot project is underway with the California ISO to evaluate future scenarios for the structure of RTOs in the west.
A 33 page summary report (March 2000) (LA-UR-00-1572) was recently completed,
which is available in pdf format:
It provides a more complete write-up of the original applications' study and a cross-mapping to the recommendations of the DOE's POST report (section 1.5 and Table 1 on page 11).
The program has a webpage at:
Dale Henderson, 505-665-2151, firstname.lastname@example.org
Jonathan Dowell, 505-665-9193, email@example.com
**The TRansportation ANalysis SIMulation System (TRANSIMS)
UFTO Note - DOE Distributed Power Website
Date: Wed, 31 May 2000
DOE Distributed Power Website
This new website just went live this morning. Looks like a good one. Happy reading!
This is the website of the DOE's Distributed Power Program which is responsible for distributed resources' system integration research and development. The site describes the Distributed Power Program and its activities, and provides information and current news about barriers to distributed power, policies and regulations, technical interconnection issues and upcoming events.
This unveiling was set to coincide with the long awaited release of the DOE "Barriers" study, by Brent Alderfer, Competitive Utility Strategies, which was discussed at the DOE DP Program meeting last October. (See UFTO Note - DOE Distrib Power Review & IEEE Interconnection Working Group; 12 Oct 1999.)
-- Making Connections: Case Studies of Interconnection Barriers and their Impacts on Distributed Power Projects --
This study documents the difficulties faced by distributed generation projects seeking to connect with the electricity grid. The report examines the impact of interconnection issues on 65 distributed power projects. The case studies treated in the report clearly demonstrate that market barriers are real, and that they are, in part, an artifact of the present electricity industry institutional and regulatory structure designed for a vertically integrated utility industry relying on large central station generation. Given the findings, the report provides a ten-point action plan for reducing the technical, business practices, and regulatory barriers that may impede the deployment of distributed power technologies.
The full report is available for download as a pdf file: http://www.eren.doe.gov/distributedpower/barriersreport
Subject: UFTO Note - DOE Hydrogen Program
Date: Sun, 21 May 2000
Forwarding this announcement about the DOE Hydrogen Program website...it's
a quite comprehensive resource site on hydrogen. Note the complete proceedings
from the '98 and '99 Program Reviews (under Information Resources).
Date: Sunday, May 21, 2000 8:46 AM
Subject: [h2view] Redesigned Hydrogen Information Network website is live!
From: "Gregoire, Cathy" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The DOE Hydrogen Program website has been completely redesigned. This site contains important information on R&D advances and technology validation efforts within the US Department of Energy's Hydrogen Program.
The web address remains the same - http://www.eren.doe.gov/hydrogen
Please note that all future notices related to the DOE Hydrogen Program, including meeting notices and solicitation announcements, will only be sent to those persons signing up on the new mailing list - this current list will no longer be used.
Action is required on your part for you to continue to receive important information. You must sign up to receive news and information (http://www.eren.doe.gov/hydrogen/registration.html)
Thank you for your interest in hydrogen.
Catherine E. Grégoire Padró, P.E.
Technology Manager, Hydrogen Program
National Renewable Energy Laboratory
1617 Cole Blvd., MS 1613
Golden, Colorado USA 80401
UFTO Note - Amorphous Metal Motors
Date: Sun, 07 May 2000
Here is a very new and different approach to electric motors and generators. The following summary from the company's business plan. I am working closely with them to help them develop contacts with potential strategic partners and investors. I can send on request the complete business plan, with figures, as a Word document.
The company believes that their motors will outperform by a wide margin any of the other "new" types of motors and generators, particularly in light of the ability to eliminate gears and drivetrains.
===== Executive Summary ========
Light Engineering is introducing a patented, new and revolutionary motor/generator technology using amorphous metal materials. The use of amorphous metal leads to dramatic improvements in the performance, operating efficiencies and cost effectiveness of Light Engineering’s motor/generator. Unlike anything else in the marketplace today, Light Engineering’s motors deliver high performance, maintaining high torque over an entire speed range thus opening the door to many new applications not achievable by traditional motor technology.
Today, Light Engineering is the only developer of electric motors and generators that incorporate amorphous metals as the magnetic core material. Light Engineering has built and tested several generations of prototypes in the 5hp+ range that have now demonstrated the following advantages over conventional motors:
Significantly expanded torque/speed range
High starting torque thresholds
3x torque to weight advantage of traditional motors
4x torque to volume advantage of traditional motors
Software "scalability" with expanded frequency
High "Output Density" Generators
Significantly reduced cost of materials
Manufacturability without major capital expense
The wide performance range of Light Engineering’s motors reduces the need for mechanical gears and transmissions. Instead, software algorithms programmed into a digital signal processor responds to internal sensors, this can be done either locally or remotely over telecommunication lines. They adjust motor performance dynamically to achieve optimum operating efficiency as load conditions and user preferences change. These motors and generators are thus transformed from mechanisms that are mechanically configured to perform a specific task into intelligent platforms that provide unprecedented adaptability to the demands of their operating environment.
These motors are modular and scalable and can be incorporated into a full range of applications. For instance, in the hybrid electrical vehicle market, these motors supply the high torque required to get the vehicle moving and the high efficiency needed at various operating speeds ? all without any gears or a transmission. Light Engineering expects its motors and generators will be the technology of choice for both hybrid and fuel cell powered vehicles.
With the exceptional performance range of Light Engineering’s motors it also enables whole new classes of other products that are not practical with today’s technology. These include turbo-compressors for refrigeration, turbo-generators for stand-alone power stations, a combination starter motor/alternator for vehicles or aircraft engines and variable speed applications enabling remote control of energy consuming equipment.
The design of these motors/generators eliminates the need for Light Engineering to invest in manufacturing plants and equipment. These products will be able to quickly enter the marketplace through a combination of contract manufacturing and licensing.
Light Engineering has in place a blocking intellectual property portfolio that includes 5 issued and 4 allowed patents and has entered into a Technology Development and Licensing Agreement with Honeywell (formerly AlliedSignal), the world’s largest manufacturer of amorphous metals, sold under the trademark "Metglas" .
Light Engineering has assembled a experienced team including some of the country’s top motor designers, consultants and advisors. It leases a 12,000 square foot facility in Campbell, CA divided into offices, development laboratories and a prototype fabrication area. This "Tech Center" is equipped to design, rapid prototype, program and test the motor / generator and controller systems.
Light Engineering seeks to raise $4-5 million from the sale of a Series
B Preferred Stock with the net proceeds from this offering primarily used
to fund prototype development costs, hire additional staff and transition
the technology from research into the first phase of commercialization.
Subject: UFTO Note - Energy Storage Assoc Meeting Notes
Date: Tue, 25 Apr 2000
Here are some notes from the recent meeting of the ESA, here in the
bay area. The ESA website will be posting additional information.
Energy Storage Association
2000 Annual Meeting
"Cleaner, Greener Power through Energy Storage"
6-7 April 2000
Finally, energy storage appears to be breaking through, across a broad front. There are about 100 MW of pending purchases for systems in the US, and a comparable amount in Europe. This new success isn't limited to one technology either, but is spread across many different ones, from flywheels to SMES to advanced Pb Acid to "flow" batteries. Applications range from small to large, from local UPS/power quality to grid support systems.
This meeting had as its theme the environmental implications of storage,
noting the synergies with renewable power (e.g. to improve its dispatchability
and application), and how storage also can improve the environmental performance
of conventional plants.
Flow batteries in particular are emerging strongly; four companies presented different chemistries and product niches.
In these systems, two electrolytes flow through a reactor, which is similar to a fuel cell, on either side of an separator membrane. When a voltage is applied across the reactor, the electrolytes change state and become "charged". The "charged" electrolytes pass out of the reactor to be stored in tanks. Just like a conventional rechargeable battery, the process can be easily reversed. The "charged" electrolytes flow back through the reactor and electricity is produced. The technologies are environmentally benign, modular, comparatively easy to site, and separate the power rating from the energy storage capacity. They also appear to be free of the charge/discharge management issues that most battery chemistries suffer from, i.e. they can be fully discharged, and have no standby self-discharge losses (i.e. when the circulating pumps are turned off). Manufacturing and material costs are relatively low, and system costs will drop as the number of installations increases.
-- Regenesys -- Large Scale Utility Energy Storage -- sodium bromide and sodium polysulphide electrolytes. An "electricity warehouse" reference design is based on 120 MWh with 10 hour discharge, max rated output 14.75 MW. Other configurations (5 - 500 MW) are possible. First plant at advanced stage of planning on a power station site in the UK. The first N. American "follow-on" installation is in advanced discussions. A transportable/containerised unit is suggested at 20 MWh, 2MW. (http://www.regenesys.com)
-- Pinnacle VRB Ltd -- Renewable and Remote Applications -- vanadium (in various charge states). Invented at Univ of New South Wales, Australia. Licensed to Sumitomo and Mitshubishi in Japan. Sumitomo has developed collapsible storage tanks that can go through doors and manholes, enabling installation in existing structures. (High time-of-day rate differentials make diurnal peak shaving attractive.) Installation at SDGE as part of EPRI DR test program. A unit at a park hostel in Australia is 20 kw/120 kwh, part of a remote power system. Another on King Island is 100kw/1800 kwh supports a minigrid and drastically reduces diesel fuel and operating costs. (http://www.pinnaclevrb.com.au)
-- Powercell -- Zinc-Flow™ uses zinc bromide and polybromide solutions. Their standard unit is the PowerBlock, 100kW/100kWh, in one self contained package complete with power electronics. It is on the market, to date mostly through Williams Energy, and the company is ramping up production to meet the demand. (http://www.powercell.com)
-- Cellennium -- also uses vanadium. This Thailand based company is developing a wide range of applications, from small to large. (http://www.vanadiumbattery.com)
Keynote Address: * Renewables, Distributed Generation and System Reliability in a Restructured Electric Supply Industry - Gregg Renkes, The Renkes Group, Ltd.
Renkes was staff to Senator Murkowski for many years, and directly involved in many of the congressional hearings on the energy industry. He gave a detailed view of how the players line up in Washington, particularly as to how the elections will impact restructuring legislation in the near future. Starting from a historical perspective (cold war, White House and Congress controlled by opposite parties), he uses various clues to how Gore and Bush's views on energy will play out (in the closest race in recent history), and concludes they're very similar. The current administration's proposal, and what's been done in Texas both point to restructuring, market mechanisms to deal with emissions, renewable standards, etc. In Congress, there's also more agreement than disagreement, and the states' speed on restructuring is pressuring Congress to do something sooner rather than later, regardless of election results. Grid reliability, and shortages expected this summer are high profile reasons for action. Overall, conditions are looking increasingly positive for distributed power, renewables, and storage application.
* Energy Storage and Renewable Energy, BPA's Perspectives
Mike Hoffman, Bonneville Power Administration
BPA is espousing an "EnergyWeb" concept, and see storage as an important element alongside distributed generation and renewables. In conjunction with wind, for example, storage can make it possible to dispatch wind power in the large flat blocks during peak demand, and displace carbon-based generation in the process. Wind power could also be bid into hour-ahead and week-ahead markets if the storage system has a high enough discharge rate. Customer side storage becomes relevant if there are demand charges--and retail access. Larger system configurations depend on local market structures. On the transmission system, storage presents many potential benefits, no one of which is enough by itself to justify the cost, but taken together could do it. Storage will be easier to site than new lines; it can help with congestion management, increase transfer capability, and replace contingencies. Transportable systems would overcome fears of stranded investment. Fast systems (e.g. SMES) can help with stability.
* IBERDROLA's Technology Demonstration Centre
Jesus Garcia Martin, IBERDROLA
This center supports the generation and other business units of Iderbola, one of the four large utilities in Spain. The only such facility in Spain, it evaluates and tests new technology, does technology transfer, and tries to reduce the time it takes to introduce new technology. In renewable energy, they have PV arrays, fuel cell demonstrations (one with Ansaldo in Italy is a molten carbonate), studies in biomass, thermal solar, wind and hybrid systems. There is also have a 2 MW battery storage system, operating for the last 4 years.
* Power Quality Management as a Green Technology; Imre Gyuk, DOE
Storage is important for reliability and economic competitiveness, and it also plays a role as a green technology, by virtue of its ability to increase the potential of (intermittent) renewable energy sources by making them more dispatchable, and, for example, reducing/optimizing use of diesels in off grid or microgrid settings.
* Flywheels for Renewable Energy and Power Quality Applications
Don Bender, Trinity Flywheel Power
(There was also a tour of Trinity's plant nearby.) As lower tech flywheel (i.e. steel) systems are opening the market, high speed carbon composite systems are making steady progress, though they're taking longer than anticipated. There's been a lot of hype over the last 10 years, and only a small number of contenders are still around. Programs were underfunded, and had too much of a component, not system, focus. Also, requirements for vehicular applications were too severe for the first step.
Trinity's "electromechanical battery," as they like to call it, uses a 9 inch diameter rotor. Turning at 40,000 rpm, it will deliver 50 kW for 20 sec. Other configurations offer 100kW/15 sec to 250kW/3 sec, and 700kW/5 sec. Installed on a DC bus to add or remove power as needed, it can deliver energy, or power or both, from a compact package - power density (of the motor/generator and power electronics) starts at 5 kW/kg. The state of charge is always precisely known from the rotational speed. The balance of plant has turned out to be a bigger challenge than originally expected, and the power electronics have very special requirements. Flywheels should have an advantage for short duration power quality applications. Safety concerns have been addressed by a collaboration among most of the developers. You need either containment or rotor integrity, not both. Trinity has focused on rotor integrity, through extensive overspeed/burst testing.
* Battery Energy Storage for Residential Photovoltaic Systems
Bill Brooks, Endecon Engineering
Over 75% of the 299 PV systems installed under CEC Emerging Renewables Buydown program in the first two years of the program include some amount of battery storage. (Even higher percentage among residential projects). The CEC Buydown does not apply to the battery portion of the systems. (even though several attempts were made to include batteries). Battery options are generally preferred and actually help sell the PV system by providing firm backup power capabilities. Batteries are here to stay in this market.
Most appropriate battery for this market is the Valve-Regulated Lead-Acid (VRLA) battery. Advantage—Low maintenance, good performance Disadvantage—Higher cost, intolerant of high temperatures or improper regulation voltages.
Enclosures need very little ventilation. Best if placed in garage or in an outdoor enclosure (in shade and/or conditioned to prevent high temperatures). Building inspectors are unfamiliar with reviewing battery installations; their requirements vary from plywood boxes to explosion-proof enclosures with four-hour fire ratings. Very few batteries or battery enclosures have listings or recognitions by testing labs. PV is blazing the way for a whole series of backup power options for residential and commercial customers.
The Trace 5548 Power Module has a5.5kW ac rating, 44-60V dc input, 120Vac output -- Batteries and controls all in the same cabinet, up to 12 kWh in storage cabinet.
More Battery is ALWAYS better
* Utility Evaluation and Demonstration of Dispersed Subsurface
Compressed Air Energy Storage, Dale Bradshaw, Tennessee Valley Authority
A 300 MW CAES site got pretty far in the planning stages in the early 90's, but the plant was never built. Now TVA is considering a smaller scale system (10-20 MW; 6-10 hours) to be used close to the customer to help relieve transmission congestion. The compressed air field would consist of 3-4000 ft of 5-foot diameter gas pipe, laid out in any pattern convenient for the site, e.g. under a farmer's field. The CT's would always be available, even if the storage was exhausted, and while using the compressed air, plant output would not be sensitive to ambient air temperature, and would be a low cost source of spinning reserve, with rapid hot or cold start. Operating cost benefits compared with a CT become significant under higher gas prices.
* Lithium Ion Batteries for Energy Storage Applications
Jim McDowall, SAFT America
Lithium Ion is not just one kind of battery, but refers to a whole family of battery materials and chemistries, with a wide range of characteristics. First proposed in 1990, and first shipped in 1993, they are now in 1/2 of all portable devices. Saft and others have been working on a large scale version for EV applications. Lithium is the lightest metal and offers the highest voltage. With no water present, there's no problem with electrolysis during charging. SAFT's battery has lithiated cobalt oxide as the positive electrode, lithium intercalated in graphite as the negative electrode, and the electrolyte consists of LiPF6 salt in an organic solvent. Lithium-Ion batteries must be protected from high temperature (they'll burn over 150 deg C), overcharge, overdischarge, and over voltage. Therefore each cell must have its own built-in electronic monitoring and control. The batteries provide good cycling, high power, and deep discharge. They're in pilot production and should be available commercially in 3 years. Though the initial cost is high, this will be very dependent on volume (as with so many new technologies). Life-cycle cost should eventually match Lead-Acid batteries.
* Molten Salt as an Energy Storage Medium
Hugh Reilly, Sandia National Lab
The Solar II plant, closed down over a year ago, used molten salt to transport heat from the tower to heat exhangers, making steam for power generation. Adding 2 large storage tanks effectively decoupled the collection of energy from the generation of electricity, with 105 MWhr of storage, at 97% efficiency, and thus enabling anytime dispatch of solar electricity. The salts solidify at 430 deg F, so the "cold tank" must be kept above that temperature. A new plant using this approach, "Solar Tres", is under construction in Spain by a consortium that includes Boeing and Bechtel.
* Annex XV: Energy Storage and Renewable Generation: The New Opportunity
John Boyes, Sandia National Lab
The International Energy Agency (IEA), which is an offshoot of the OECD, sponsors a series of research programs and working groups. For a complete list, see "Implementing Agreements" at http://www.iea.org/techno.htm
Annex XV is the successor to Annex IX, and both of these are under a
broad category that covers all forms of storage for energy conservation.
For details, see http://cevre.cu.edu.tr/eces
An acrobat document gives an overview (http://cevre.cu.edu.tr/eces/ax15prop.PDF) The program scope will be determined at a meeting in October, with work to begin in November.
The objective is "to move storage systems towards commercial market implementation, via the mechanism of technology and applications demonstrators. Whilst it is beyond the scope of Annex 15 to implement an actual demonstration project, it is fully intended that much of the necessary groundwork will be covered within the project to make a demonstration project the next logical step in electrical energy storage system market development."
Jon Hurwitch - His firm Switch Technology has merged with RK Sen to form Sentech
Evonyx - Ian Grant is new to ESA and a new employee of Evonyx, announced a major investment by Niagara Mohawk in their company. Evonyx has a new type of Zn-Air battery which can be recharged or physically refueled with solid plates or tapes. They forsee applications from AAA size to multi-MW. (http://www.evonyx.com)
Trace (Trace Technologies and Trace Engineering) announced their merger with Xantrex.
Brad Roberts explained that Omnion had been acquired by S&C Electric, and that they were filling commercial orders for the PQ2000.
Anthony Price and Joe Iannucci observed that lots of money has been spent on reducing the cost of storage technology, nothing has been spent on increasing its value, e.g., integrating it with renewables.
Steve Eckroad summarized recent developments at Golden Valley Electric, Fairbanks, where they're in the last stage of bidding for a major BESS. There are 3 finalists- ABB, GE and Siemens, each teamed with a particular battery. An award is expected in September.
Subject: UFTO Note - Fuel Cells Discussed on Investors Net Radio Show
Date: Thu, 30 Mar 2000
The information presented in these interviews is pretty basic, starting with a primer on the big changes underway in the utility industry. Hugh Holman (see the UFTO home page for his earlier report) is one of the very few Wall Street analysts concentrating on energy technology. He makes a good case that this area could be the "next big thing," and we've already had a taste of it starting this January.
The programs give a good overview perspective on fuel cells, and it's interesting to hear spokesmen from Plug and Ballard explain their positioning and strategies, and to hear the financial reporters starting to "get it." We have to remember that most people know very little about all of this -- maybe these shows can help us explain it to friends and family ( "and management?" . . . no . . better not say that).
You can listen to the archived broadcasts over the internet, using RealPlayer,
or order transcripts.
(PR Newswire article this morning)
Fuel Cell or 'Fool Cell?' Engines Highlight 'Tech Check' Radio With CIBC Analyst Hugh Holman and Paul Lancaster Of Ballard Power Systems
Is the venerable but polluting internal combustion engine in autos and buses about to go the way of black and white TV? How long will it be until we'll be speeding along the roadways emitting nothing more toxic than water vapor?
To hear the latest developments in the race to bring the first commercially produced and priced fuel cell engines to transportation users worldwide, tune in to [Wed Mar 29] today's "Tech Check" Radio program produced by Informed Investors Radio.
. . . Vancouver, BC-based Ballard Power Systems (Nasdaq: BLDP) has made great strides in developing PEM (proton exchange membrane) technology and is a leader worldwide in developing fuel cell technology for transportation uses. It also has a major commitment in stationary and portable power segments. Paul Lancaster, VP of Corporate Development, will discuss Ballard's most recent developments and answer questions.
Analyst Hugh Holman of CIBC World Markets is again a guest. In last week's program, Holman largely focused on fuel cell companies providing stationary power for residential use and other stand-alone markets, with a particular emphasis on developments at Plug Power (Nasdaq: PLUG).
This week, Holman will discuss fuel cells and transportation. Also, listeners of last week's program sent provocative questions relating to Canadian company Global Thermoelectric (Toronto: GLE) and its solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) program. Holman will discuss pros and cons of the PEM vs. the SOFC.
March 22, 2000 --PART 1
[this link will immediately start downloading the RealPlayer audio file]
Honey, Don't Forget to Pack the Fuel Cell.
Soaring energy costs have rejuvenated thoughts of alternative energy. Meet some of the players.
Theme: Sector news--especially the tech sector--from the analysts, fund managers, industry pundits and company executives is the focus. Expect timely, in-depth news for improving investment decisions.
Snapshot: With gas prices rising faster than the Fed Funds rate, Wall Street has discovered fuel cell companies. Developments in this nascent, but potentially enormous industry will almost certainly have major effects on both the transportation and power generation industries. To get the inside scoop on what is powering the surge in the fuel cell-related stocks, catch analyst Hugh Holman of CIBC World Markets and Gary Mittleman, CEO of Plug Power (Nasdaq:PLUG).
March 29, 2000 --PART 2
Energy Tech Part 2: Fired Up About Fuel Cells
Another look at this exploding group, which may change the way we fuel our cars and homes. Ballard Power Systems is scheduled, and so is Hugh Holman, an energy technology analyst at CIBC World Markets. He'll review types of fuel cells, industry drivers and trends, and what to watch the rest of the year.
Snapshot: "Energy Tech Part 2: Fired Up About Fuel Cells" Having set records for traffic last Wednesday, we'll take another look at this exploding group, which may change the way we fuel our cars and homes. Ballard Power Systems is scheduled, and Hugh Holman, Energy Technology analyst at CIBC World Markets, returns to review types of fuel cells, industry drivers and trends and what to watch the rest of the year.
Subject: UFTO Note - Powercosm: George Gilder Brings a New Paradigm to Power
Date: Mon, 27 Mar 2000
UFTO Note- Powercosm: George Gilder Brings a New Paradigm to Power
Here's some "big picture" stuff. George Gilder, who's staked himself a huge role as prophet of the internet, is now tackling energy as well, with the help of two longtime energy industry figures. There are some challenging ideas here for all of us.
If you have the patience,
Part 1 of this Note, gives a flavor of how his influence and view of the internet.
Part 2 is the announcement of a new conference "Powercosm".
Part 3 is a beginning guide to the basic thrust of the argument that "power," i.e. electrical energy, will be networked much like data is today.
" . . . the single most powerful new technology investment opportunity for the next five years… Electricity in the digital age of silicon powerchips."
Part 1. Excerpts from an article in the current (March 25) issue
of the Economist, page 73:
" . . . Mr Gilder reflects on the revolution in progress today. And while he thinks, America waits with baited breath.
It is known as the "Gilder effect." Sometime in the first half of each
month, an e-mail emerges announcing the imminent arrival of the next utterance.
At the appointed hour, tens of thousands mob his website. Those who get
through to the server speed-read eight pages of technology, then scan a
list of firms. Having noted an addition here, an omission there, it is
off to the day-trader races. In the past year, Novell, Qualcomm, JDS Uniphase,
Terayon Communication, TeraBeam and others have seen their reputations
soar within minutes of publication of the Gilder Technology Report.
. . .
Mr Gilder is America's foremost technology prophet, a reputation he earned with "Microcosm", published in 1989, a book on the implications of the semiconductor revolution. Yet it is still odd that his words have such immediate impact.
. . .
The market-moving is relatively recent, dating back only a year or so. His influence on the technology industry goes back much farther. It stems from Mr Gilder's chief insight about technology, which itself stemmed from his experience as one of the architects of Ronald Reagan's supply-side economic views. (One of Mr Gilder's many incarnations: others include political speechwriter and controversial author on such topics as sex and race.)
. . .
It is all, inevitably, about supply and demand. Mr Gilder's insight was to spot the transition from the age of computing to that of networks. What was scarcest in the computer era (bandwidth, or network capacity) would soon become cheap and abundant. And what was once abundant (big computing's power, transistors and space) would become relatively scarce, in an increasingly mobile world of small, rather simple devices connected to others using a ubiquitous network.
Moore's law predicted that, for any given price, computer-processing
power would double every 18 months. Its lesson, says Mr Gilder, was "waste
transistors". That meant building software and businesses on the assumption
that computing power would be virtually free; the transistors we "waste"
to play PC solitaire exceed what NASA could muster when it launched its
Apollo missions. Gilder's law says that communications capacity will triple
every 12 months. And his corollary is "waste bandwidth". As communications
become cheap, work will shift from smart devices to a swarm of interconnected,
dumber ones that are tiny and cheap.
. . .
What distinguishes him from other wired pundits is his understanding of the technology, from the atomic level of semiconductors to the economics of wire-laying. He does his homework, seeking out engineers sooner than company bosses, and grilling them in excruciating detail.
. . .
He credits his insights to the advice of his academic mentor, the semiconductor pioneer Carver Mead: "listen to the technology". But with the world's markets echoing to the sound of his own voice, that gets harder all the time."
Part 2. Powercosm
The conference was first announced to Gilder's "Telecosm" 60,000 subscribers, and is modelled after the conference by that name that he's held annually for 3 years. Unfortunately for the rest of us, Powercosm sold out in the first two days, and wasn't promoted in other circles.
I'm told the conference operates very differently from most we've all
been to. It's limited to 250 registered attendees. The speakers
are the CEO's and movers and shakers in companies that are leading the
changes that are the conference theme. There is a lot of discussion,
debate and participation.
From the desk of: George Gilder
Thank you for your interest in my upcoming conference, Powercosm™: Powering the Telecosm, to be held at the Coronado Island Marriott Resort in San Diego, CA, June 14-16.
Just as I did 3 years ago with my Telecosm Paradigm, I have decided to launch and devote an entire conference to a new paradigm, the Powercosm™. It may just be the most important event for technology investors this year. (And that's saying a lot. It's going to be a great year!)
The real purpose of this conference is to get my subscribers in EARLY--no Yahooers need apply--on what I consider the single most powerful new technology investment opportunity for the next five years… Electricity in the digital age of silicon powerchips.
The Telecosm and the Internet Economy will make the broad electric technology sector one of the most dynamic investment sectors in the economy (reaching below and beyond the realm of traditional electric utilities). We stand at the threshold of technology-driven changes in power as deep and profound as those that began the telecom revolution two decades ago. And that's the reason why you have to come to San Diego!
I'm creating the Powercosm™ conference in partnership with my good friend, Peter Huber, and his colleague, another brilliant technologist, Mark Mills. Together, they edit the newly launched Digital Power Report, a monthly investment strategy report published by Gilder Publishing. (If you haven't already seen the premier issue, download a free copy here.)
Peter and Mark are today's premier authorities on "powering the information age." Their prescient and groundbreaking analysis, delivered monthly in the Digital Power Report, will help you uncover emerging investment opportunities in an industry poised for unprecedented growth in the next few years.
And the Powercosm™ conference will be the kick-off event for this new paradigmatic investment opportunity. Limited to only 200 top investors and business leaders, the conference will feature an overview of the paradigm itself, followed by specific presentations on Powerchip Fabricators, Powerchip Integrators, Network Technologies, the "High-Nine" Power Technologies, and Overall Technology Integrators. I have no doubt that in the coming decade of the Powercosm™, there will emerge companies that are the technological analogs of Intel, Oracle, AMD, AOL and Qualcomm.
We will feature Peter Huber and Mark Mills (as well as your humble servant) as speakers and panelists, of course. But equally important for you, we will highlight discussions by and with the leading players within the new, wide open Powercosm™, including top business leaders from the new and emerging market leaders such as American Power Conversion, Silicon Power, Emerson Electric, American Superconductor, Surepower, Capstone, Calpine, CREE, and many others-many of which you may not have heard of before.
Part 3. A Beginning Guide
On the Powercosm homepage ( http://www.powercosm.com/ ) there is also an invitation to subscribe to a new monthly newsletter "The Digital Power Report", by Peter Huber and Mark Mills. (Mark will be familiar to many of you from his long involvement with electrotechnologies.) The free Inaugural issue, available for download from the website, is titled "The PowerChip Paradigm." Under "articles" there are also a number of columns the authors did for Forbes Magazine, and other work including Congressional testimony.
Drastically oversimplifying, the ideas are:
1. The devices that make up the internet (the boxes) use a lot
of electric power, as much as 8% of the entire US consumption. There
are other complicated effects, e.g. economic growth, efficiencies, wealth
effects, reduced reliance on oil, etc. Mill's Congressional testimony
in particular presents one side of quite heated (sorry for the pun) arguments.
The opposing view would have it that the internet doesn't result in an
increase in energy use at all, and thus is a great friend to the environment.
2. The internet infrastructure requires a far higher quality of power than we're accustomed to -- many 9's of reliability -- and this demand is much better supplied with "short wire" devices, that is, distributed resources providing generation and storage close to the load.
3. This is the big conceptual blockbuster. Most of us think of "bits" as being "virtual." They do, however, have a physical reality. Electrons (or photons) must move in order for the bits to go from one place to another.
The basic physics of moving small numbers of electrons is not fundamentally different from moving large numbers of electrons. And in fact, the silicon devices to switch, control and move large amounts of power are evolving rapidly.
PowerChips will soon make it possible to handle enable power in much
the same way as bits
are today, so power will be managed in packets sent along a switched network "grid".
The conventional view is that the transmission grid is more like the
gas pipeline system -- a big, physical structure. This analogy is
wrong. Gas pipelines move stuff -- molecules. Electrons, in
small or large batches, are different.
UFTO Note - Sag Line Mitigator -UPDATE
Date: Mon, 27 Mar 2000
UFTO Note - Sag Line Mitigator Update
Progress is excellent.
1. Utility Lineman Perspective:
2. Revised Test Plan
Previous UFTO Notes:
-- Sagging Line Mitigator; Mon, 08 Mar 1999
This unique device would replace or work with standard insulated hangers on power transmission towers, to counteract the effect of temperature on the sagging of overhead transmission lines. This allows increased line ampacity (load current capacity) of existing lines during curtailed summer months, reduced tower heights, and/or increased tower spacing. This device will significantly reduce the risk of forest fires and outages caused by sagging lines, increase the efficiency of energy transfer, delay the need for additional line capacity, and delay the construction of new lines.
-- T Line Sag Mitigator Gets Funding; Partner Wanted; Tue, 29 Jun 1999
-- US Patent No. 5792983 Aug. 11, 1998
SAG COMPENSATOR FOR SUSPENDED LINES USING ROTARY MOTION
Abstract: The invention used devices that change in length as a function of temperature to mitigate sag in a suspended line. The devices have actuators which change in length as a function of temperature. This change in length is transferred to a linkage mechanism, such as a cog or disc, which amplifies the change in length and changes it to rotational motion that tensions the suspended line. Therefore, the same change in temperature that causes the suspended line to sag will cause the device to actuate a rotary motion that reduces line sag.
Progress is excellent.
1. Utility Lineman Perspective:
Earlier this month, the construction coordinator for T&D reliability at a major utility visited the company to discuss the role of a Lineman in transmission line work and to provide input on the current SLiM design, functionality, and its proposed installation procedure.
The visit began with a review of the SLiM overall concept, the current design status, and current challenges, providing the relevant information he needed to evaluate the device from a Lineman’s perspective. After seeing the 3D computer animation of the SLiM models and the full-size mockup, he was very optimistic about how SLiM would be received by both T&D operators and lineman: "…if this device does what it is designed to do, it should sell like hot cakes!…" His view on the installability of the device was that it would be relatively simple to do using existing installation procedures and equipment.
The second topic of discussion involved a detailed review of installation procedures for SLiM and line attachment hardware. Previously three methods of line contact had been identified for SLiM: compression dead-end, preformed dead-end, and mechanical jaw grip dead-end. Based on this meeting, two methods of attachment were considered as the most common to be used by utilities; compression dead-end and strain clamp dead-end (new, not previously considered). Each attachment method would have its own installation procedure for live line work; "Bare Hand" technique and "Hot Sticking" technique respectively. These procedures will be outlined in detail in a future report once they are completed.
- The SLiM concept was seen as a very attractive method of resolving sag related issues,
- The SLiM device would require nothing more than standard installation procedures and equipment, and
- General guidelines will be developed for SLiM installation techniques using utility experience and knowledge.
2. Revised Test Plan
To demonstrate the functionality and integrity of the device, the company has decided to replace the original plan to test the device in the field with a host utility, with a plan to do controlled tests in a laboratory setting.
Reasons for the change-- field testing appears not to be feasible, and
won't get the needed information:
- Field testing at a remote site does not allow sufficiently close testing control to measure all relevant parameters at the right time.
- Field testing on a real line significantly limits our response and our ability to efficiently implement design changes that may be required (and are identified) as a result of testing.
- Field testing, most probably, will not impose the device to the extreme conditions at which it needs to be tested. Furthermore, it only would test for a specific environment that is not applicable to other conditions.
- Convincing a utility to install these devices on heavily transit lines in nearly impossible and installing them on light-duty loads would be almost useless.
The new plan:
-- Utility Survey and Testing Site.
The objective of this new task will be to conduct a utility survey, generate awareness and interest amongst utilities about the product, and solicit a host siting for part of testing.
-- Conduct lab and field testing, improve/optimize designs, finalize
the product design.
The test plan will be implemented by a series of lab and "field" testing. These tests will be conducted "interactively" in environments that are controllable and manageable. Test results will be used to improve designs and retest if necessary. The final outcome of this task will be a device or a family of devices which will have passed all testing requirements such that they will function as intended when installed on actual power lines.
1. Suggestions for who might be able to help them with the survey?
2. Active participation in the development-- advisory, in-kind, investment, testing.
3. Suitable lab needed- business arrangements to be determined. An RFP will be issued in a few weeks. Let me know if you're interested.
Contact: Dr. Manuchehr Shirmodhamadi
Material Integrity Solutions, Inc., Berkeley, CA
510-594-0300 x202 email@example.com
Note - Biomass Cofiring
Date: Wed, 22 Mar 2000
A couple of UFTO utilities have expressed an interest in biomass cofiring, so I followed up with Sandia and also found some other resources also which you may find useful.
First, the new National Energy Technology Lab website for global climate change has a lot of information on the subject:
The 1995 UFTO report on Sandia had this brief summary on the Combustion Research Facility (CRF) that Sandia operates at its Livermore CA site...
"Over 1000 Sandia employees are located in facilities in Livermore California, and operate several special facilities, one of which is the Combustion Research Facility, the only one of its kind in DOE. Can handle industrial scale burners to 3 million BTU/hour. It is a "user facility" and outside visitors and users are encouraged. Partnerships with industry include GM, Cummins and Beckman Instruments and many others. Developed a number of specialized flame/combustion observational, measurement and diagnostic techniques. Provided fuel blending strategies to midwest utilities to meet SOx requirements. The Burner Engineering Research Laboratory is a user facility for industrial burner manufacturers."
The CRF "Multifuel Combustor" website is currently under construction:
The CRF continues to be a significant contributor to combustion science, and in particular has amassed a major database of the combustion characteristics of over 50 different biomass fuels, most recently in the context of cofiring with coal. This work has been funded mostly by DOE, and includes information on emissions, carbon burnout, ash, and corrosion/deposition.
They're also doing extensive computer modeling of coal, biomass and coal-biomass cofiring combustion. The coal modeling is under EPRI sponsorship, so that work is available to EPRI members. The dedicated biomass boiler modeling (stokers, etc.) is publicly available. The intellectual property issues associated with the coal-biomass cofiring are currently being sorted out, but it will be at least available to EPRI members and possibly to everyone.
For addition information, contact:
Larry Baxter 925-294-2862; firstname.lastname@example.org
Sandia National Labs, Livermore, CA
Larry has generously supplied a copy of a brand new overview paper. Here are the first couple of pages. I have the complete 8 page overview as a (100k) Word document, which I can send on request. Larry has a more detailed article that he is willing to send to interested parties. Also, see below for some earlier reports, and a link to an upcoming American Chemical Society meeting session.
GUIDELINES FOR COFIRING BIOMASS WITH COAL
Larry Baxter, Allen Robinson, Steve Buckley and Marc Rumminger Sandia National Labs, Livermore CA
This document presents guidelines for cofiring biomass with coal in coal-fired boilers. These guidelines are based on the results from pilot- and commercial-scale tests using a variety of biomass fuels and coals. Guidelines are offered in each of six general areas of major concern when cofiring biomass with coal: (1) fuel preparation and handling; (2) pollutant emissions; (3) ash deposition and deposit properties; (4) fuel burnout; (5) corrosion; and (6) fly ash utilization. For each of these areas, a brief statement of the issue and a brief guideline are summarized. More detailed information can be found at the cited website and in the references.
Summary of Cofiring Guidelines
We believe the following guidelines are generally valid, but there are specific instances where each of them is not valid. The discussions in the literature and web site provide the background to determine when such instances arise.
Fuel should generally be prepared and transported using equipment designed specifically for that purpose rather than mixed with coal and simultaneously processed.
Wood-coal blends generally reduce NOx emissions. This reduction is traced to lower fuel nitrogen content and higher volatile yields from biomass. SOx is nearly always reduced proportional to the reduction in total fuel sulfur associated with combining biomass with coal.
Deposition rates from blends of coal and biomass vary strongly with the type of biomass fired. Most wood-coal blends reduce both the rate of deposition and the difficulty managing the deposits. Some biomass-coal blends, in particular high alkali and high chlorine fuels, severely increase deposition problems.
Complete conversion of the carbon in biomass fuels requires that the fuel be processed to small particle sizes and be moderately dry. Particles generally need to be less than 3 mm (1/8 inch) to completely combust. Fuels that pass through a quarter-inch screen are generally dominated by particles less than 1/8 inch. High moisture contents (greater than 40%) and high particle density both significantly increase the time required to completely combust the particles.
Fuel chlorine and alkali concentrations should be limited to less than one fifth of the total fuel sulfur on a molar basis to avoid corrosion problems. This limit should be applied to the fuel composition as fired through any single burner except in the rare case of rapid and complete mixing of in the furnace.
Fly ash from wood-coal cofiring generally does not significantly degrade fly ash performance as a concrete additive. However, strict interpretation of current standards for inclusion of fly ash in concrete preclude mixed ashes, including biomass-coal ashes. Fly ash from many herbaceous fuels may negatively impact concrete properties.
Concerns regarding the potential global environmental impacts of fossil fuels used for power generation and other energy supplies are increasing in the U.S. and abroad. One means of mitigating these environmental impacts is increasing the fraction of renewable and sustainable energy in the national energy supply. Traditionally, renewable energy sources struggle to compete in open markets with fossil energy due to low efficiencies, high cost, and high technical risk.
Cofiring biomass with coal in traditional coal-fired boilers (subsequently referred to as cofiring) represents one combination of renewable and fossil energy utilization that derives the greatest benefit from both fuel types. Cofiring capitalizes on the large investment and infrastructure associated with the existing fossil-fuel-based power systems while requiring only a relatively modest investment to include a fraction of biomass in the fuel. When proper choices of biomass, coal, boiler design, and boiler operation are made, traditional pollutants (SOx, NOx, etc.) and net greenhouse gas (CO2, CH4, etc.) emissions decrease. Ancillary benefits include increased use of local resources for power, decreased demand for disposal of residues, and more effective use of resources. These advantages can be realized in the very near future with very low technical risk. However, improper choices of fuels, boiler design, or operating conditions could minimize or even negate many of the advantages of burning biomass with coal and may, in some cases, lead to significant damage to equipment. This document reviews the primary fireside issues and guidelines for implementing coal-biomass cofiring.
The biomass fuels considered here range from woody (ligneous) to grassy and straw-derived (herbaceous) materials and include both residues and energy crops. Woody residues are generally the fuels of choice for coal-fired boilers while energy crops and herbaceous residues represent future fuel resources and opportunity fuels, respectively. Biomass fuel properties differ significantly from than those of coal and also show significantly greater variation as a class of fuels than does coal. As examples (see Figure 1 and Figure 2), ash contents vary from less than 1% to over 20% and fuel nitrogen varies from around 0.1% to over 1%. Other notable properties of biomass relative to coal are a generally high moisture content (usually greater than 25% and sometimes greater than 50% as-fired, although there are exceptions), potentially high chlorine content (ranging from near 0 to 2.5 %), relatively low heating value (typically about half that of hv bituminous coal), and low bulk density (as low as one tenth that of coal per unit heating value). These properties each affect design, operation, and performance of cofiring systems.
Published papers available on cofiring:
Robinson, A., Baxter, L. L., Freeman, M., James, R. and Dayton, D. (1998) "Issues Associated with Coal-Biomass Cofiring," In Bioenergy '98Madison, Wisconsin.
Robinson, et.al. (1998) "Interactions between Coal and Biomass when Cofiring," In Twenty-Seventh Symposium (International) on Combustion Combustion Institute, Boulder, CO, pp. 1351-1359.
Baxter and Robinson (1999) In Biomass: A Growth Opportunity for Green Energy and Value-added Products, Vol. 2 (Eds, Overend, R. P. and Chornet, E.) Elsevier Science, Ltd., Oxford, UK, pp. 1277-1284.
Baxter and Robinson (1999) "Key Issues When Cofiring Biomass with Coal in pc Boilers," In Pittsburgh Coal Conference Pittsburgh, PA.
Baxter, Robinson, and Buckley (2000) "The Potential Role of Biomass in Power Generation," In Biomass for Energy and Industry: 1st World Conference and Technology Exhibition Seville, Spain, to be presented.
Baxter, et.al. (1997) "Biomass-Coal Cofiring: Imperatives and Experimental Investigations," In 3rd Biomass Conference of the Americas Montréal, Ontario, Canada.
Baxter, et.al. (2000) "Cofiring Biomass in Coal Boilers: Pilot- and Utility-scale Experiences," In Biomass for Energy and Industry: 1st World Conference and Technology Exhibition Seville, Spain, to be presented.
Buckley, et.al. (1997) "Feasibility of Energetic Materials Combustion in Utility Boilers: Pilot-scale Study," In 1997 Spring Meeting of the Western States Section of the Combustion Institute Sandia National Laboratories' Combustion Research Facility, Livermore, CA.
Junker, et.al. (1997) "Cofiring Biomass and Coal: Plant Comparisons and Experimental Investigation of Deposit Formation," In Engineering Foundation Conference on the Impact of Mineral Impurities on Solid Fuel Combustion Kona, HI. Robinson, A., Baxter, L. L., Freeman, M., James, R. and Dayton, D. (1998) "Issues Associated with Coal-Biomass Cofiring," In Bioenergy '98Madison, Wisconsin.
Robinson, et.al. (1997) "Fireside Considerations when Cofiring Biomass with Coal in PC Boilers," In Engineering Foundation Conference on the Impact of Mineral Impurities on Solid Fuel Combustion Kona, HI.
Robinson, et.al. (1997) "Ash Deposition and Pollutant Formation when Cofiring Biomass with Coal in PC Boilers," In EPRI Coal Quality Conference Kansas City, MO.
Robinson, et.al. (1997) "Pollutant Formation, Ash Deposition, and Fly Ash Properties When Cofiring Biomass and Coal," In Engineering Foundation Conference on the Economic and Environmental Aspects of Coal Utilization Santa Barbara, CA.
1998 Tech Review -- Sandia Combustion Research
-Coal and Biomass Combustion
-Cofiring Biomass and Coal to Reduce CO2 Emissions from
Coal-Fired Utility Boilers
-Thermal Conductivity of Ash Deposits Formed in Utility Boilers
-Mineral Matter Evolution during Coal Char Burnout
1997 Tech Review -- Sandia Combustion Research
Scroll down to -- "Coal and Biomass Combustion"
-Carbon Burnout Kinetic Model Developed for Pulverized Coal Combustion;
-Ash Deposit Property Analysis
-Pollutant Formation and Ash Deposition When Cofiring Biomass and Coal
-Formation of Ash Deposits in Biomass-Fired Boilers
-Combustion Properties of Biomass Pyrolysis Oils
AUGUST 20-24, 2000
220th NATIONAL MEETING OF THE AMERICAN CHEMICAL SOCIETY
Division of Fuel Chemistry:
· 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments: A 10-Year Assessment
· Inorganics in Fossil Fuels, Waste Materials, and Biomass:
· Waste Material Recycling for Energy and Other Applications
· Fossil Fuels and Global Climate/CO2 Abatement
· Solid Fuel Chemistry
· Chemistry of Liquid and Gaseous Fuels
Subject: UFTO Note - DOE Final POST Report on Outages
Date: Mon, 13 Mar 2000
Report of DOE's Power Outage Study Team (POST) was released this morning.
"Findings and Recommendations to Enhance Reliability
from the Summer of 1999"
(This morning's Wall Street Journal also broke the story.)
REF: UFTO Note - DOE Power Outage Study
Date: Thu, 06 Jan 2000
The interim report was released in January, and a series of workshops
were held around the country in the last week of January. Perhaps your
company was represented.
This final report makes summarizes workshop findings, and makes recommendations.
It is available (pdf acrobat) at: http://www.policy.energy.gov
or the POST webpage at: http://tis.eh.doe.gov/post/
(It should be there by the end of today.)
Printed copies of the can be obtained from the department's Office of Public Inquiries by calling 202/586-5575.
---- DOE press release ---------------
March 13, 2000
Energy Department Issues Recommendations to Help Prevent Power Outages
Richardson Receives Power Outage Study Team Final Report
Energy Secretary Bill Richardson today received the department's Power Outage Study Team final report on electricity outages and system disturbances during the summer of 1999. The report contains the team's findings and recommendations of appropriate federal actions to help enhance electric reliability, and avoid the types of problems that occurred last summer.
"While demand for electricity is soaring along with the use of computers, fax machines and other appliances in our homes, offices and factories, the reliability of our electric grid is, at times, faltering, mainly because policy makers haven't kept pace with rapid changes in the electric utility industry," Secretary Richardson said. "But today's report can be a blueprint for how we will work to keep the lights on and air conditioners running in America's cities this summer."
The report states that competition in the electricity industry can save customers money and help with improved reliability. The institutions and practices that provided reliable electric service in the past will need to change along with ongoing economic reforms.
The report makes the following 12 recommendations, each of which includes specific action items for federal consideration:
- Promoting market-based approaches to ensure reliable electric
- Enabling customer participation in competitive electricity markets;
- Removing barriers to distributed energy resources;
- Supporting mandatory reliability standards for bulk-power systems;
- Supporting reporting and sharing of information on "best practices;"
- Enhancing emergency preparedness activities for low-probability,
high-consequence events on bulk-power systems;
- Demonstrating federal leadership through promotion of best
reliability practices at federal utilities;
- Conducting public-interest reliability-related research and
development consistent with the needs of a restructuring
- Facilitating and empowering regional solutions to the siting of
generation and transmission facilities;
- Promoting public awareness of electric reliability issues;
- Monitoring and assessing vulnerabilities to electric power
- Encouraging energy efficiency as a means for enhancing reliability.
"Federal electricity legislation is an essential component of the effort to help alleviate power outages this summer," Secretary Richardson said. "Congress must move ahead to make changes in the federal statutory framework to provide the certainty that is needed to achieve reliable electric service in competitive wholesale and retail markets."
Secretary Richardson formed the team, made up of power system experts from the Energy Department and its national research laboratories, as well as universities, following a series of power outages that crippled parts of New York City, Chicago and other communities across the nation during the past summer.
The final report follows an interim report issued in January that described events and findings on six power outages and two additional power disturbances. The team held three technical workshops across the country to invite comment and input on the appropriate federal role to help avoid future power outages. Over 150 individuals attended one or more of the workshops and over 70 entities submitted written comments.
UFTO Note - Startup Company to Develop Wireless Sensors
Date: Fri, 03 Mar 2000
UFTO Note - Startup to Develop Wireless Sensors
The June 1998 UFTO Report on Oak Ridge National Lab has this brief entry in the section on Instrumentation & Controls:
… "Wireless Sensors: Spread-spectrum technology is being used in conjunction with sensors-on-a-chip to eliminate instrumentation-related wiring in a plant. Sensors can be added or moved as needed. There is a potential for coupling with global positioning system (GPS) technology, so that the sensor can report its exact location, in addition to other measured data. " …
I recall being intrigued with the idea that sensors could be deployed inexpensively, almost on the spur of the moment, and in as many inaccessible places as you wanted, throughout a power plant or substation -- to monitor temperature, noise, vibration or any other parameter. It makes a lot of sense.
The group at Oak Ridge has continued work on the concept, but hasn't
been able to move forward on building actual devices, for lack of funding
and external partners. A nice presentation can be found at
An acrobat presentation of theirs can be downloaded at:
Independently, a new company, Sensitron, was formed here in Silicon Valley. The founders had come up with the same concept, and they're pursuing it vigorously. Oak Ridge has indicated they're more than willing to work with them to turn this into a reality.
Their schedule is ambitious: 3 months to breadboard demo, 12 months to field testing of prototype, 18 months to production, 24 months to integrated 2nd generation design.
One of the principals approached me (at our daughters' Y-Basketball game!) to explore whether UFTO utilities might be interested in working with them (a good example of how UFTO is always on the lookout!).
Here is their summary. Please let me know if you're interested.
Or you can contact: Blake Putney, 650-960-5948, email@example.com
Wireless Monitoring Systems to Reduce Utility Maintenance Costs while Increasing Reliability
Recent developments in semiconductor, spread spectrum communications and micro-sensor standards and technology have made it possible to create complete wireless monitoring systems (WMSs) on a single chip the size of a dime. These sensor systems will be capable being cheaply deployed and connected with computer networks. Users will be able quickly deploy these systems to monitor virtually anything anywhere. Our system uses unlicensed communications bands that can be deployed on a site by site basis, without requiring an investment in a wide area cellular communications network. The potential market for these sensors in enormous, from industry, military, hospitals to home applications. The widespread availability of these systems has the potential to impact society in a similar manner as the Internet.
Although the technical feasibility of these systems has been demonstrated, a number of barriers exist for this technology to become a viable business. Existing markets are fragmented, revenue streams from near term applications are insufficient to attract investments from large organizations, and few sensor-oriented companies have the expertise in the technologies necessary to create an integrated product in silicon.
The initial market chosen for the sensors is to monitor conditions of equipment, and locations within electric utilities’ facilities. Deregulation is forcing electric utilities to get the most out of their equipment and staff. Our system will provide a utility the ability to track the health of all their assets remotely and provide the immediate access to information via their computer network. The sensors needed include temperature, vibration, and stress monitors.
This market was chosen because of the simple design requirements for the sensors, high value of these facilities, and the large expense of installing existing instrumentation solutions (up to $1000 per foot of cable). By reducing the cost of connecting a sensor to less than $150 per point, our wireless system will revolutionize maintenance practices at these facilities. The sales potential for WMSs in this market is over $250M at very high margins.
A key aspect of success is to create a complete system that minimizes the needs for components to be developed by third parties. Our system will involve subsystems for the sensor, field deployment and database configuration, and a receiver that collects data and is connected to an Ethernet. For the sensor subsystem, we are creating a modular CMOS chip design including each of the required elements (Micro Electro-Mechanical Systems (MEMS), Controllers, and R-F). The installation of this system will be simple enough to be deployed directly by end-users.
Sensitron is looking to attract utility partners that are interested
in deploying wireless sensors to reduce operations and maintenance costs,
while enhancing system reliability. Our utility partners will gain early
benefits of deploying the system, and have the opportunity for equity participation
in our enterprise.
UFTO Note - QuickStab Stability Limit Predictor Enhanced
Date: Tue, 29 Feb 2000
More Speed and Capabilities Enhance QuickStab™
We've been following this for a long time. See UFTO Note March 22, 1999 for prior history. This is a new press release by the developer. The approach finally seems to be proving out, after taking a very long time to get attention and acceptance. It would seem to me that QuickStab meets a very real and urgent need. I would be very interested to hear comments from the experts in your company. EB
Southern Company Services Integrated QuickStab with the EMS -- Investigating Its Usage for Maximum Power Transfer Capability Input
SCS Computer Consulting (SCSCC) has released a new upgrade of the QuickStab Maximum Loadability and Steady-State Stability Margin Predictor ? the only field-proven software in the industry that can help you track the steady-state stability limit in real-time.
The ability to perform real-time steady-state stability assessment in conjunction with maximum power transfer limit computations becomes increasingly relevant for transmission networks that are dispatched near their loadability limits. In fact, so-called "transfer capability" calculations that do not incorporate real-time stability checks are meaningless. This is because the safe operating limit implies a certain margin of stability, and is highly dependent upon topology, voltages, and number and location of generators. Therefore, on-line decision-making requires real-time tracking of the safe operating distance to the steady-state stability limit.
QuickStab solves this problem quickly and dependably. It identifies the point of maximum power transfer of a power system, i.e., predicts its maximum loadability, even if the current operating state is far from the limit conditions. It determines the system MW loading for a user-defined security margin, shows which units and tie-line injections are most likely to cause instability; provides information that can help develop a remedial action strategy; and identifies the P-V points of successively degraded states towards instability. Results are displayed in a unique, easy-to-understand graphical format.
The new enhancements of this already fast application increase its computational speed by an order of magnitude while improving the robustness of the solution technique. For example, you can compute the maximum MW transfer limit of a 1,300 bus system in just 5 seconds, or solve a 950 bus case in less than a second, by using a PC running at 233 MHz. In addition, the package now includes new facilities for data conversion from industry-standard solved power-flow formats, user-interfaces in Spanish and Portuguese language, and brand new documentation that is provided both electronically and in hard-copy.
QuickStab runs on PCs under Windows 95, 98 and NT. The code of the computational engine is modular and strictly compliant with the ANSI C standard. It comes compiled with Microsoft C/C++ version 6.0 in a Windows NT 32 bit native environment and can be recompiled on UNIX without change. ABB Network Management integrated QuickStabª in the Ranger baseline on Compaq Alpha under UNIX, and recently installed it in the SCADA/EMS systems of CESP, Brazil, and OPSIS, Venezuela.
The newly enhanced QuickStab computational engine has also been ported to UNIX by Southern Company Services (Southern) on a Sun Microsystems SC-2000E RISC platform for same-time use with the companyÕs SCADA/EMS. Southern, an early user of QuickStabª, contributed to the recent algorithm enhancements, has seamlessly integrated this software with the real-time data environment, and is investigating its potential use for same-time tracking of the distance to the maximum transfer capability limit.
QuickStab offers significant benefits. It can help increase revenues from wheeling power while meeting higher MW demand and reliability requirements. It can be used on-line, as a stand-alone application or as an add-on to an existing EMS. And it can be integrated with third-party load-flow, contingency analysis and security assessment programs.
QuickStab is available now to utilities, consultants and universities, under a range of license options. For additional information, or to make arrangements for a presentation, contact:
Dr. Savu Savulescu
SCS Computer Consulting, Fresh Meadows NY
UFTO Note - BPA Conf on DG, Renewables
Date: Mon, 21 Feb 2000
Conference--Distributed Resources, Renewables and the Environment
February 2, 2000, Portland, OR
Bonneville Power Administration
Energy NewsData, Energy Dynamics Online project
Sitting through this conference, I had the contradictory feelings of "same old same old", while at the same time there seemed to be so much good stuff being said that it was hard to absorb it all. Perhaps it was the combination of a lively mood, good speakers who could clearly state the big picture, and some genuinely new ideas. The crowd was very pro-DG/Renewables, with some good cautions raised about environmental effects (you don't want to turn on all your dirty diesels on a peak-load bad-air day!).
My own takeaways (with biases showing):
- Tech change (internet, DG) is irresistible.
- Dereg/restructuring is irresistible (though timing is uncertain).
- The "Home-Town" utility has a huge opportunity and role to play - if it wants to, and particularly if new kinds of regulation can be put in place.
- Think price, not cost. Think niches, not "the market".
During the final panel session, Joel Gilbert gave a frightening summary
of the capacity situation and vanishing reserve margins in the US, predicting
a showdown in the east this coming summer. Capacity additions are
not keeping pace with shutdowns, and there is zero investment in new transmission
Energy NewsData has provided a list of attendees plus a lengthy report about the conference online at: http://www.newsdata.com/edonline/groundhog
Introduction -- Steve Wright, Sr VP, BPA
The "Energy Web " -- It's coming, even if we're not sure what
it looks like.
1. Reliability -- need for new capacity
--Gen supply - Hydro resources diminishing (fish, relicensing); coal restricted (airquality)
--RTO timing very uncertain; investments on hold pending outcome
--Opportunity for new market entrants -- DG and renewables.
2. Consumer Choice -- retail access coming, sooner or later, gradually
Consumers value reliability and environmental stewardship
3. Technological change - It's all coming together for DG, though
many hurdles put in the way. Exec survey - most expect FC's becoming
a reality; State or Fed net metering laws; Fed interconnection stds
(IEEE). AMR, electronic billpaying seen as very significant.
Keynote Address -- Carl Weinberg
"The philosophies of one century become the common sense of the next"
i.e. renewable energy, environment, sustainability [spaceship earth]
Forces at work:
1. Market based governance -- "free markets" -- gov't does things to establish markets that "do" things (instead of gov't "doing" things directly).
2. Environment - learning necessity to live symbiotically with nature, and to include it in our P/L measures. DG/Renewables only part of answer.
3. Tech change -- from economies of scale to economies of mass production. DG can be tailored to individual needs. De-integration of vertical utilities. Link pieces of system with information rather than with organizations. Mix of central and decentralized. Developing world may be better with largely decentralized ( e.g. straight to cell phones, skipping wire system).
Karl Rabago, Rocky Mountain Institute
Benefits of DG - short lead time, small units (less lumpy); portable- quick to deploy and redeploy; built "like cars not cathedrals", genuinely diversifies portfolio risks.
For the Utility/"Residual Disco" - resiliency; increase T&D life; better capacity utilization; source of reactive power; premium power quality; cut reserve requirements; load following options.
For environment - Combined heat and power; use local (waste derived)
Randy Berggren, manager, Eugene Water & Electric Board
Municipal utility (elec, water, district heat -- 100,000 customers)
Intend to remain vertically integrated. Own some generation, 24 hour
trading floor. Lots of public involvement in new Integrated Resource
Plan; strong connections to community. Strong commitment to conservation
and renewables -- goal to add 1% of system load each year. Local
utility ("Home Town") can be the delivery infrastructure for PV-- don't
need to cede market to new (dot com) entrants.
Larry Papay, SAIC
- deconstruction (deregulation) of the utility industry
- digitalization ( includes huge power quality requirement)
- decarbonization - environmental concerns and valuing of emission credits
Ralph Cavanagh, NRDC
Need to mobilize and incentivize existing (utility) companies for DG, rather than regard them simply as the obstacle to a "disruptive technology". DG can enhance the grid. Need performance standards so it's not worse for environment, noting that generation close to load means the emissions are close to people.
The "home-town" utility can and should be involved, and do it, but not
as a monopoly. Need new kind of regulation with incentives to provide
reliable wires at lowest cost; not rewards based on system throughput.
Need to deal with stranded system fears. Need incentives to invest.
Joel Gilbert, CEO, APOGEE Interactive Inc
"Bubba don't care" when it comes to energy, restructuring, environment, etc.. At most 2% of the population is really motivated, but even they aren't well informed.
People do want "business interruption insurance", for both business and personal, but they don't care about the difference between a fuel cell and a microturbine. There are some people who want a fuel cell for fun, as a luxury -- so sell it to them, and never mind how many $/KW.
The Home Town wires company could do this -- turnkey installation, dispatch it too (outsource it if you have to). Enron doesn't want the wires-co talking to the customer, but they're the ones who fix things after the storm.
What is the customer's motivation? Appeal to their fear and greed. "Reduce it to a bumper sticker." Life Insurance didn't sell at first, until they stopped calling it "death insurance.
Recommended reading- a book "Revenue Management" by Robert Cross,
on how the airlines use price signals to educate the customer and maximize
their revenues. Electricity doesn't have price signals (i.e. time
of day), and even California hasn't been able to get a demand response
Alison Silverstein, Texas PUC
The "Texas Model" for DG interconnection policy is freely available to other states to use as basis for their own program. It was largely a "win-win", or at least "equal grumbling". The process went fast, achieving "80%" consensus. For the rest, decisions were made, so as to move ahead.
The objective was to remove barriers to entry by DG, to set forth the
rules, and then get out of the way and let the market do its work.
A DG has the right to get on the T&D system. (T pricing was standardized
in '95, and D pricing is being developed). There are standard agreements,
procedures, deadlines and fees. There are limits on how much DG can
be hooked up to a given circuit. An interconnection cookbook manual
is in the works, along with a equipment pre-certification process.
Eric Heitz, The Energy Foundation
While not opposed to DG, per se, concerned that hype is far surpassing reality, and the environmental issues are serious. Small diesels are plentiful, and very dirty. Microturbines emit far more NOx than CCGT, and fuel cells more CO2. Combined Heat&Power only brings microturbines up to the level of CCGT. [There are sure to be arguments over these assertions. It sounded like not much attention was given to emissions performance of new technology.]
Recommendations: DG should be required to be as clean or cleaner than
new CCGT, and standards should ratchet down over time. Reward CHP
and efficiency. Make manufacturer responsible for lifetime emissions
Pamela Lesh, Portland General Electric
(See Feb 4 UFTO Note - A Proposition for a New "Regulatory Contract")
At the BPA Conference in Portland (Feb 2), one of the distinct highlights was a presentation by Pamela Lesh, VP Rates & Regulatory Affairs at Portland General Electric. She outlined a remarkable new approach for regulating distribution utilities that goes well beyond "performance based rates". It was the first public airing of ideas she's been developing for some time.
The real conceptual breakthrough is to separate the basis on which the utility gets paid from the way the customer is billed, so the right incentives can be presented to each one. Here's the next to last slide (the complete text appears below):
- Price to the utility to align success so that the more effectively the utility achieves the results, the better it does, i.e., unit-based, not usage-based, pricing.
- Price to the customer to encourage conservation and prevent abrupt shifts in cost, e.g., usage or demand-based, not flat, pricing.
- Yes we can price differently to the utility and to the customers!
We will just need to balance collections with payments.
Subject: UFTO Note - IEEE DistGen Stds update
Date: Mon, 14 Feb 2000
IEEE SCC21 P1547 Web Site Available:
(The first is the html home page, the second one is simply an archive file log.)
The site includes a P1547Background file, a P1547MeetingPattern file explaining meeting logistics, and folders for past and ongoing notices, agendas and minutes. (Meeting minutes "annexes" are not available electronically.)
The January 2000 meeting (Albuquerque NM) minutes have just been posted at the "archives" site. <<P1547Minutes200001.doc>>
The next meeting is April 26-27, 2000 hosted by Cutler-Hammer in Pittsburgh PA Next after that is June 7-8, 2000, hosted by Capstone Turbines in Los Angeles
Contact is: Tom Basso, 303-384-6765, firstname.lastname@example.org
(For additional background, see:
UFTO Note - IEEE Stds for DR Interconnection, 09 Jul 1999)
In related developments: (February 10, 2000)
Sandia's PV News: IEEE Interconnection Standard For Utility-Intertied Photovoltaic Systems Is Approved
An IEEE-sponsored working group has developed an interconnection standard that will simplify the process of interconnecting photovoltaic systems with an electric utility. Photovoltaics (PV) is a solar-electric technology that uses solid-state solar cells to convert solar energy to electric energy. Not only does this standard vastly simplify PV interconnection, but it is the first IEEE standard of its kind for allowing utility interconnections of non-utility-owned distributed generation equipment. The unique aspects of this standard include tightly-defined requirements for the interconnecting hardware that can be tested by an independent test laboratory such as Underwriters Laboratories. This removes former barriers to PV use throughout the country.
John Stevens, Sandia National Labs, chaired the working group, which included about 25 members representing the utility industry, the PV industry, PV inverter manufacturers and PV researchers. The effort was sponsored by IEEE Standards Coordinating Committee 21 (SCC21). It required a little over three years from initial announcement of the project to final approval by the IEEE Standards Board. Its value is that it provides a standard that PV interconnection hardware can be designed to, thus removing the requirement for specialized hardware for different utility jurisdictions. The standard includes very specific requirements for systems of up to 10kW, but it covers systems of all sizes. The IEEE PV interconnection standard, identified as IEEE Std 929-2000, is known informally as IEEE 929.
The standard actually applies to the PV inverter, the device that converts the PV dc energy into utility-compatible ac energy. Similar inverters are used in other distributed generation systems such as fuel cells and microturbines. Many of the requirements for interconnection that are described in IEEE 929 might also be adopted for these other technologies.
IEEE 929 provides guidance for operating voltage and frequency windows, trip times for excursions outside these windows, requirements for waveform distortion, as well as defining a non-islanding inverter. An important parallel effort was performed at Underwriters Laboratories where a test procedure, UL 1741, was written that will verify that an inverter meets the requirements of IEEE 929.
In support of the IEEE 929 process, several development projects were completed at Sandia that addressed interconnection issues. The performance of several inverters operating in parallel when a utility line is de-energized was characterized to better understand the potential for unintended operation during a utility outage ("islanding"). A control scheme was developed to assure that islanding doesn't happen. A test was developed to allow testing of single inverters to identify the presence, or lack, of an adequate anti-islanding scheme. Several specific tests were performed at the request of some electric utilities to examine such issues as ferroresonance with inverters under fault conditions and response of inverter protection schemes to the non-sinusoidal waveforms that are sometimes associated with abnormal conditions on utility systems.
This working group was an outstanding example of people with different backgrounds working together toward a common goal -- simplifying the interconnection procedure. IEEE SCC21, which is chaired by Dick DeBlasio of NREL, has sponsored numerous PV-related standards since its inception in the late 1970s.
For further information on this PV interconnection standard
contact John Stevens, email@example.com
Sandia PV Projects (505) 844-3698 (phone) (505) 844-6541 (fax)
UFTO Note - A Proposition for a New "Regulatory Contract"
Date: Fri, 04 Feb 2000
At the BPA Conference in Portland (Feb 2), one of the distinct highlights was a presentation by Pamela Lesh, VP Rates & Regulatory Affairs at Portland General Electric. She outlined a remarkable new approach for regulating distribution utilities that goes well beyond "performance based rates". It was the first public airing of ideas she's been developing for some time.
The real conceptual breakthrough is to separate the basis on which the utility gets paid from the way the customer is billed, so the right incentives can be presented to each one. Here's the next to last slide (the complete text appears below):
- Price to the utility to align success so that the more effectively the utility achieves the results, the better it does, i.e., unit-based, not usage-based, pricing.
- Price to the customer to encourage conservation and prevent abrupt shifts in cost, e.g., usage or demand-based, not flat, pricing.
- Yes we can price differently to the utility and to the customers!
We will just need to balan ce collections with payments.
Contact Pamela Lesh,
VP Rates & Regulatory Affairs, Portland General Electric.
"What If's, Why Not's, and So What's"
- Distribution utilities could become the drivers of new distribution technology, including distributed energy resources?
- The best and the brightest came to work in distribution utilities because, at these companies, commercial success was synonymous with innovative solutions, customer focus, and value, value, value?
- Because words like rate base, cost of service, disallowance, and
prudence comprise our vocabulary and constrain our actions
- Because we reward increased electricity sales in the short term and
increased rate base in the long term
- Because we are still using the system built to drive the finance,
construction, and use of electric infrastructure even though we have
long since achieved this purpose
Why not CHANGE?
Change the "frame" -- change the framework
From a regulatory compact to one or more regulatory contracts
- make explicit that which is implicit
- pay for performance, not investment
- price on value and what, not on cost and how
Why not get what we--utilities, commissions, public interest
representatives-- want from distribution directly and up front in the
same way that commercial parties bargain?
From a regulated entity to one or more regulated services, at
- Distribution services
- Demand-side services
- Supply services
Why not free utility organizations to look for other ways to give and
receive value in the communities they serve and know so well?
The new framework
- A series of "regulated" contracts between a utility and a Public
Utility Commission that express and price the values of those who use
and/or are affected by a regulated service.
- Times at which the contracts expire, followed by extension,
re-negotiation, and the possibility of termination and replacement.
- A permanent abandonment of rate base and cost-plus ratemaking.
What the heck is a "regulatory contract"?
A document with the following key terms:
- Performance commitments
- Restrictions on how
- Consequences for non-performance
- Change orders and change process
- Term, termination and "unwind"
What is Scope?
Scope identifies the activities and facilities from which the service
provider produces the committed results, e.g.,
- Design - Finance - Construction - Maintenance
- Restoration - Replacement - Access
What are performance commitments?
Measurable results based on what the buyer values, e.g.,
- Reliability - Power quality - Safety - Environmental responsibility
- Information accessibility
What's all that other stuff?
Everything else except price affects price!
- Constraints are specific means the utility may not use to meet its
- Consequences are the penalties or damages for failure to meet commitments.
- The change process is the way the parties anticipate and cope with
- Term is the length of the initial bargain and the process by which
new bargain is struck -- or not, and what happens then.
How would you price this?
- Price to the utility to align success so that the more effectively
the utility achieves the results, the better it does, i.e.,
unit-based, not usage-based, pricing.
- Price to the customer to encourage conservation and prevent abrupt
shifts in cost, e.g., usage or demand-based, not flat, pricing.
- Yes we can price differently to the utility and to the customers!
We will just need to balance collections with payments.
- So we remove the obstacles to deployment of distributed energy
resources that the current regulatory system forces on us
? displacement of rate base
? displacement of utility kWh sales
? utilities precluded from participation because of concerns about
- So we enable utilities and others alike to compete to provide
customers energy solutions, with the same distribution service
available to all
So why not START NOW ??
UFTO Note - Xenergy Distrib Power Study
Date: Mon, 24 Jan 2000
Xenergy, Inc., the consulting firm, is offering UFTO subscribers a special discount price for their Distributed Generation study, which was done as a companion to their ongoing Retail Energy Management (REM) multiclient program.
The deliverables include a report issued Nov 99, and two databases, which will continue to be updated. Excerpts from the report's Executive Summary appear at the end of this note.
-- The DP Competitor Database is an assembly of information on the competitors in the DP marketplace. This database highlights the activities of the utilities and ESPs which are selling products and services to the DP marketplace (generation that is sited at a customer location and driven by the needs of the onsite energy user). Data sources for the Competitor Database include corporate filings and financial data, product/service literature, personal communications, and other market data.
-- The State Regulatory Database highlights regulatory conditions in nine key states that will likely have a strong positive (or negative) impact on the growth of DG capacity.
The two databases are both contained in a single Microsoft Access 97 database file.
The price, ordinarily $10,000, is reduced to $8,000 for UFTO companies. One or the other of the two databases can be purchased separately.
Rebecca MacGillivray, 781-273-5700, x502 firstname.lastname@example.org
Here is a portion of the press release which announced the study:
XENERGY Study Identifies Strategies in Distributed Power Market (11/08/99)
A new study from XENERGY identifies 12 strategies for energy companies eager to enter the newly emerging Distributed Power (DP) market -- from technology acquisition to product distributor to retail energy service provider -- and profiles market player success stories to date. According to the report, while the market remains in its infancy, opportunities exist for competitors to establish a stake.
According to XENERGY's Francis Cummings, who headed up the study, many companies are keenly aware of the potential for explosive growth in this market. Said Cummings, "We constructed the study and corresponding DP Market database with market entry strategies in mind. Based on our regulatory and competitor analysis, the study helps clients to identify the Distributed Power strategy that best fits with their business plan."
Six U.S. electric utilities or their affiliates - Avista, DTE, Duquesne, Edison International, GPU and Idacorp -- have adopted a New Technology strategy (#3) by testing and acquiring rights to new advanced technologies, primarily fuel cells, through joint ventures and investments. DTE Energy Technologies, for example, purchased a stake in Plug Power, which is developing and manufacturing fuel cells, a promising generation technology for automotive and residential markets. Plug Power recently launched its IPO, and expects commercial sales to commence in 2000.
A low-cost, low-risk strategy is Demand-Side DP Bundling (#1) -- Equitable Resources, an integrated energy company, is adding or expanding DG technologies as part of a package of demand-side energy services through its existing performance contracting unit, NORESCO. In contrast, PSEG Energy Technologies is pursuing Strategy #1 but as part of a broader "Integrated Soup-to-Nuts" strategy (#7) as a competitive supplier of commodity grid power, as well as serving as distributor for AlliedSignal's new microturbine.
Distributed Generation (DG), or onsite power generation by end-users, has been in use for years, but recent announcements of small scale microturbines and fuel cells could dramatically increase the Distributed Power (DP) market size for applications less than 100 kW, called "micro-DG."
Sponsors of the study will have access to XENERGY's new DP Market database with embedded Internet links, which provides quick, flexible access to data on 50 companies currently involved in the DP market. Featured DP competitors include 27 electric utilities and their affiliates and 19 companies manufacturing distributed generating equipment. The database also includes data on key regulatory issues affecting the feasibility of distributed generation, organized on a state-by-state basis.
The newly released study is a companion to a larger XENERGY study, REM
'99, which is a comprehensive analysis of retail energy markets in New
Jersey, Illinois and Pennsylvania. Results are confidential and limited
to the study's sponsors.
RESEARCH SCOPE: CUSTOMER-DRIVEN ONSITE GENERATION
This study focuses on the market for small generation that is sited at a customer location and driven by the needs of the onsite energy user. The primary emphasis of the study is micro distributed generation projects, those less than 100 kW, that are driven by the onsite customer's need for power quality, reliability and/or cost savings and those driven by the existence of a thermal load. We focused on distributed generation in the context of existing and potential retail power markets, such as those in California, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Illinois and Texas.
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY (Excerpts)
To assess the status of this market, we first developed a database with information on companies active in the DP industry and on regulations affecting DG projects in states with retail electric markets. This "DP Market Database" accompanies this report as a free-standing product, providing a unique directory and market assessment tool covering the major players in the DP industry, their products and services, and the rules under which they operate. The classifications of DP competitors in the database are based on the portion or portions of the company which were the focus of this study. In some cases this covers a family of affiliated companies, and in other cases, we drill down to a single DP company. The database is also designed to serve as a "portal" to the internet web sites for each of the companies and to web sites with resources on key DG-related regulations.
There are a number of key unresolved regulatory issues that will have strong positive or negative effects on the growth of the DP industry, but these issues are just beginning to be addressed. Early market participants often invest significant time addressing these regulatory drivers in order to take full advantage of the emerging DP market. The DP Regulatory Database provides a summary and comparison of key regulatory drivers of the DP market in states with retail access.
With the current increased availability of these technologies, customer demand for products and services offering enhanced power quality and reliability as well as independence from the grid is rising. In industries where short outage periods mean significant losses, the demand is especially likely to increase. The ability to generate cost savings as well as an increased focus on the environmental attributes in markets where there is customer choice are also key factors driving customer demand. Strain on utility transmission and distribution systems is also driving the "distributed utility" concept and increasing utility demand for DG technologies. While we did not develop an independent estimate for this study of the potential size of the DP market, estimates of the market have ranged as high as 20% of new additions to generating capacity over the next 20 years, which would amount to 35 GW.
This review of the present status of the DP industry and its regulatory context leads us to conclude that significant opportunities remain for energy companies to enter the competitive distributed power market and establish strong positions as innovators and leaders in these early stages of market development. These opportunities stem from the following factors:
* While many companies in the electric industry are assessing market opportunities, there are few that are actively marketing distributed power products in the regulated or deregulated gas and electric markets. * Product offerings of the firms that have entered the distributed power market are in early stages of development. Companies are still learning how to effectively market and price DP products and services. * While the supply of many distributed generation (DG) technologies remains low, many manufacturers are currently moving to commercial production and are planning to rapidly ramp up production.
We have developed twelve models of market entry strategies through which
new entrants approach the DP market. These models are based on the examples
of companies in the database, and on XENERGY's discussions with representatives
of these companies and with end-users and others familiar with the DP mark
UFTO News Watch - Not your Father's utility industry
Date: Fri, 21 Jan 2000
This won't be a regular UFTO feature, but I was awestruck by a couple
of headlines today, and thought I'd pass along a comment. After the
wild "dot com" style run up of a several fuel cell stocks lately (you know
the drill -- no earnings, huge valuations), another couple of amazing stories
Gates Buys 5% of Avista
Avista's stock has more than doubled this week, after it was announced
that Bill Gates had taken a 5% stake in the company. It's been trading
in the mid to high teens for the last year, dropping below 15 at the beginning
of January. Today it closed at 47. Of course, they were also
benefiting from the fuel cell excitement, with their Avista Labs effort
Sierra Pacific in Huge Telecom Deal
The other story was out late Friday in an article in Infoworld: a huge alliance of Hewlett Packard, Oracle, TelecommUnity Systems, and -- are you ready for this -- Sierra Pacific Power! The article claims that the utility is using $1/2 billion from the $1.6 billion sale of power plants to provide their stake in this huge plan to put fiber to the home and supply voice, data, and television services. (Recall that Sierra Pacific Power just merged with Nevada Power last July, and the new company is now buying Portland General Electric from Enron.)
The article was posted 6 pm Pacific time Friday, and I found it at
It will be very interesting to see how the companies respond to this "scoop"--and how much of it turns out to be right. (For example, the article says "Sierra Pacific Power Co.", which is actually a regulated subsidiary of "Sierra Pacific Resources", the holding company. One wonders what other details might be suspect.)
Since the story broke well after the markets closed, so no action on the stock (SRP closed very near its 52 week low, but we'll see on Monday).
UFTO Note - DOE
Power Outage Study
Date: Thu, 06 Jan 2000
Power Outage Study Team (POST) Releases Interim Report
Bill Richardson initiated this effort last summer, on the heels of the various outages around the country. The team was assembled during September and went through its paces, coordinated by Paul Carrier in DOE headquarters. There's no direct connection to the CERTS effort, though many of the same people are involved. The press release below explains all the key elements. In particular, note the workshops later this month, and the availability of the interim report in hard copy and on line. The team's website was turned on 2 days ago, and has all the information: http://tis.eh.doe.gov/post/
Contact: Paul Carrier, 202-586-5659, email@example.com
DOE PRESS RELEASE January 4, 2000
Energy Department Team Examines Summer Outage Problems in the U.S. Electric Power System
Power Outage Study Team Releases Interim Report
U.S. Secretary of Energy Bill Richardson today received an Interim Report on the department's investigation of the power outages and disturbances that occurred last summer. The high temperatures and heavy demand strained electric systems, affecting millions of people and businesses.
"The lessons that we learned as industry and government worked together preparing for the Y2K rollover were a good step toward achieving a more reliable electric grid," Secretary Richardson said. "However, Congress needs to pass the administration's electricity competition legislation in order to address many of the uncertainties that exist as the industry transitions to a new restructured environment."
The investigation's findings warn that while the electricity industry is undergoing fundamental change, the necessary operating practices, regulatory policies, and technological tools for dealing with those changes are not yet in place to assure an acceptable level of reliability. A significant increase in electricity use, especially during times of peak demand, is stressing the electric system.
The team of academics and departmental experts, formed last September as part of the Secretary's six-point initiative to address electric reliability concerns, investigated outages in New York City, Long Island, New Jersey, the Delmarva (Delaware-Maryland-Virginia) Peninsula, Mississippi, Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana, and Chicago, and non-outage disturbances in New England and the Mid-Atlantic States.
A final report, to be issued in March, will provide recommendations and will be followed by regional policy-level discussions across the country among industry leaders and federal, local and state government officials.
The team will be conducting a series of three technical workshops to obtain stakeholder input and comment on the Interim Report. The 38 findings detailed in the report have been grouped into five topical areas to facilitate discussion at the workshops. The workshop times, locations and primary topics are:
San Francisco, California
- Topic 1: Transition to Competitive Energy Service Markets (morning session)
- Topic 2: Regulatory Policy for Reliable Transmission and Distribution ( afternoon session)
New Orleans, Louisiana
- Topic 3: Information Resources (morning session)
- Topic 4: Operations Management and Emergency Response (afternoon session)
Newark, New Jersey
- Topic 5: Reliability Metrics, Planning, and Tracking
All interested parties are invited to register to participate in one or more of the workshops. A registration form is provided on the world wide web at http://tis.eh.doe.gov/post/.
The Interim Report is also available on that website. Printed copies of the report may be obtained from the EnergyDepartment's Public Reading Room at 202/586-3142.
Comments on the Report can also be submitted through January 31 via the Internet. These comments, as well as those received at the technical workshops, will help develop recommendations for the final report.