Diary of an Ecoislander: Part 2

In the second of a series of two video blogs, IBM’s CTO of Smarter Energy, Andy Stanford-Clark explains how the energy monitoring technology that he uses in his home has now been rolled out across the village of Chale alongside the installation of a number of energy saving upgrades. This has resulted in a significant reduction in the cost of energy bills for the residents of Chale.

Diary of an EcoIslander: Part 1

About four years ago, I set out on a personal mission to significantly reduce the energy use in my home. Today, I’m pleased to say that I have made some big steps towards that goal, but more importantly – my home turf – the Isle of Wight, is embarking on a journey for the whole island to become energy self-sufficient, in a project called “Ecoisland.” My efforts at home were my own personal hobby: the Ecoisland project is a much larger, collaborative effort! Why am I writing about this now? Well, this week IBM took part in the Ecoislands Global Summit. Ecoisland is an ambitious transformation program which aims to turn the Isle of Wight (home to 140,000 citizens) into the ultimate eco-region, with a dramatically reduced carbon footprint by 2020. IBM and other companies are working with the Ecoisland project to develop innovative ways to save energy and reduce emissions and waste, while also cutting the islanders’ fuel bills – potentially by up to 50 percent.

I have sensors monitoring many of the appliances to track how energy is being used around the home. The sensors wirelessly transmit data to a “message broker” on a low-powered (just 10 Watts!) computer server, which sends data to various display devices, and also sends updates to my phone via Twitter, notifying me when an appliance is using too much power at an unusual time of the day. You might think that this information isn’t very useful if I receive it on my phone when I’m miles away from home, but from a cool application on my phone, using a technology called MQTT (Message Queue Telemetry Transport), I can control home appliances via the internet – so if a light has been left on, I can switch it off from wherever I am in the world.

EV Week: Electric Vehicle Charging: A Pilot to Turn “Challenge” into “Opportunity” « A Smarter Planet Blog
By Jonathan Marshall, Chief, External CommunicationsPacific Gas and Electric Company
Electric vehicle (EV) owners and electric utilities may soon enjoy a much closer and more fulfilling relationship than traditional car owners have with gas stations, thanks to a new pilot project announced today by IBM, Honda Motors, and Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E). This collaboration aims to demonstrate the ability to optimize the charge schedule for each customer’s EV battery so that the needs of customers and the electric grid are satisfied on an ongoing basis. That’s still a stretch for most utilities.
When the typical power engineer hears “electric vehicle,” he or she usually thinks: “challenge.” A plug-in vehicle can draw as much power as three homes in the more temperate parts of California. An enthusiastic bunch of early adopters could potentially overload local circuits if they all charge up at the same time in the same neighborhood.
But PG&E is thinking instead, “opportunity.” For one thing, we have a growing number of clean electric vehicles in our own fleet, from Chevy Volts to a new class of extended-range pickup trucks from Via Motors. And we know that widespread adoption of EVs throughout California will help the state meet its ambitious clean-air goals.
For another, we believe there’s great potential for using the latest “smart grid” technology to facilitate vehicle charging at night, when demand is low. By making use of underutilized generation and grid resources at off-peak times, EVs can help utilities make more efficient use of their assets and spread costs over a wider load without overtaxing the system.
PG&E demonstrated last year, in the first utility test of smart charging, that it could control vehicle charging through its SmartMeter™ infrastructure. But in a competitive marketplace, many customers may want to put control of their charging in other hands—such as the vehicle manufacturer or another trusted vendor. The whole process may someday be controlled by a third-party app on your smart phone.
(read more)

EV Week: Electric Vehicle Charging: A Pilot to Turn “Challenge” into “Opportunity” « A Smarter Planet Blog

By Jonathan Marshall, Chief, External Communications
Pacific Gas and Electric Company

Electric vehicle (EV) owners and electric utilities may soon enjoy a much closer and more fulfilling relationship than traditional car owners have with gas stations, thanks to a new pilot project announced today by IBM, Honda Motors, and Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E). This collaboration aims to demonstrate the ability to optimize the charge schedule for each customer’s EV battery so that the needs of customers and the electric grid are satisfied on an ongoing basis. That’s still a stretch for most utilities.

When the typical power engineer hears “electric vehicle,” he or she usually thinks: “challenge.” A plug-in vehicle can draw as much power as three homes in the more temperate parts of California. An enthusiastic bunch of early adopters could potentially overload local circuits if they all charge up at the same time in the same neighborhood.

But PG&E is thinking instead, “opportunity.” For one thing, we have a growing number of clean electric vehicles in our own fleet, from Chevy Volts to a new class of extended-range pickup trucks from Via Motors. And we know that widespread adoption of EVs throughout California will help the state meet its ambitious clean-air goals.

For another, we believe there’s great potential for using the latest “smart grid” technology to facilitate vehicle charging at night, when demand is low. By making use of underutilized generation and grid resources at off-peak times, EVs can help utilities make more efficient use of their assets and spread costs over a wider load without overtaxing the system.

PG&E demonstrated last year, in the first utility test of smart charging, that it could control vehicle charging through its SmartMeter™ infrastructure. But in a competitive marketplace, many customers may want to put control of their charging in other hands—such as the vehicle manufacturer or another trusted vendor. The whole process may someday be controlled by a third-party app on your smart phone.

(read more)

The top 10 trends from the year’s big smart grid show | gigaOM
One of the year’s largest smart grid conferences — DistribuTECH —  closes today in San Antonio, Texas. The event is relatively unknown in  IT and web circles, but it’s like the CES for utilities, power companies  and the vendors that are trying to sell them stuff.
However, I’m interested in what seems to be a growing number of  startups and entrepreneurs at the event, and that seems to be a sign  that real innovation and new business models are actually starting to  happen when it comes to adding digital intelligence to the power grid  and managing energy data.
Here are the top 10 trends that I took away from the event:
1. Managing big data. Managing large streams of energy  data is fundamental to the future of the grid, as well as for helping  consumers reduce their energy consumption. What methods the software  companies use will also determine how well they’ll do in the industry.  Startups like Opower and Tendril are essentially big-data plays, using  cloud computing tools and sophisticated analytics, and both companies released interesting news at the show. Oracle, touting its software and data management, had a  huge booth on the floor. I chatted with both the newly acquired Ecologic  Analytics (bought by Landis+Gyr) and eMeter (acquired by Siemens), and  these companies manage the massive amounts of data that flow off of  meters for utilities. Cloud computing is no longer a dirty word for  utilities; in fact, it’s likely the future of this business.
2. The Internet of Things. Beyond connecting meters and grid devices,  the smart grid really extends to create the Internet of Things,  connecting cars, home batteries, solar panels, light bulbs, thermostats,  and consumer electronics like televisions and cell phones. The term the  Internet of Things is oft-used in IT circles, but hasn’t really caught  on in the smart grid and utility industries. But it will, and it will  also provide new lines of business for the power grid vendors.

The top 10 trends from the year’s big smart grid show | gigaOM

One of the year’s largest smart grid conferences — DistribuTECH — closes today in San Antonio, Texas. The event is relatively unknown in IT and web circles, but it’s like the CES for utilities, power companies and the vendors that are trying to sell them stuff.

However, I’m interested in what seems to be a growing number of startups and entrepreneurs at the event, and that seems to be a sign that real innovation and new business models are actually starting to happen when it comes to adding digital intelligence to the power grid and managing energy data.

Here are the top 10 trends that I took away from the event:

1. Managing big data. Managing large streams of energy data is fundamental to the future of the grid, as well as for helping consumers reduce their energy consumption. What methods the software companies use will also determine how well they’ll do in the industry. Startups like Opower and Tendril are essentially big-data plays, using cloud computing tools and sophisticated analytics, and both companies released interesting news at the show. Oracle, touting its software and data management, had a huge booth on the floor. I chatted with both the newly acquired Ecologic Analytics (bought by Landis+Gyr) and eMeter (acquired by Siemens), and these companies manage the massive amounts of data that flow off of meters for utilities. Cloud computing is no longer a dirty word for utilities; in fact, it’s likely the future of this business.

2. The Internet of Things. Beyond connecting meters and grid devices, the smart grid really extends to create the Internet of Things, connecting cars, home batteries, solar panels, light bulbs, thermostats, and consumer electronics like televisions and cell phones. The term the Internet of Things is oft-used in IT circles, but hasn’t really caught on in the smart grid and utility industries. But it will, and it will also provide new lines of business for the power grid vendors.

12 smart grid startups to watch in 2012 | GigaOM
We brought you some predictions about the smart grid market in 2012, but what are some of the startups you should be keeping an eye on next year? You know you were about to ask me that.  Here’s some of the ones that I think will be really interesting to watch in 2012. They might not be the biggest players, or the ones making the most money (some are), but these are companies that could be disruptive with their business models, concepts and leadership.

12 smart grid startups to watch in 2012 | GigaOM

We brought you some predictions about the smart grid market in 2012, but what are some of the startups you should be keeping an eye on next year? You know you were about to ask me that. Here’s some of the ones that I think will be really interesting to watch in 2012. They might not be the biggest players, or the ones making the most money (some are), but these are companies that could be disruptive with their business models, concepts and leadership.

Justin Hall-Tipping: Freeing energy from the grid | Video on TED.com

What would happen if we could generate power from our windowpanes? In this moving talk, entrepreneur Justin Hall-Tipping shows the materials that could make that possible, and how questioning our notion of ‘normal’ can lead to extraordinary breakthroughs.

Two of the major benefits of the Smart Grid include: 1) reducing the need to build new power plants, and 2) increasing the ability to absorb and use the power from renewable sources. Fewer power plants would be needed because demand will be shifted from the peak, when producing assets are near capacity, to off-peak, when there is surplus capacity in the system. Renewable energy sources will be more effectively incorporate into the grid’s portfolio because demand will be able to respond quickly to the intermittent nature of wind and solar. In simple terms, the Smart Grid provides the infrastructure to match demand to supply in the most economically efficient manner.

The Line Between Smart Grids & Smart Buildings Has Blurred: Cleantech News and Analysis
Where do the worlds of smart grid and smart buildings overlap? In my weekly update at GigaOm Pro (subscription required), I dive into more detail on two big  acquisitions in the intersection of smart grid and smart building  announced last week, and I detail how the deals show just how muddy that  line is becoming.
If you missed it here was the news: On Monday last week, French power giant Alstom announced it was acquiring UISOL, maker of one of the more popular demand response open software platforms among big U.S. grid operators. Then, on Tuesday, IBM announced plans to buy Tririga,  which makes software that tracks energy use, carbon emissions and  sustainability metrics across building portfolios of many Fortune 500  firms.
The first deal buys Alstom entrée into the world of automated demand response, at first on a system-wide level, but potentially entering the building-controls realm as well.
The second deal brings IBM a piece of energy efficiency and  sustainability software built with the real estate portfolio manager in  mind, as well as a big customer base that may be a target of IBM’s wide array of smart grid, smart building and smart city technologies.
Source: GigaOM

The Line Between Smart Grids & Smart Buildings Has Blurred: Cleantech News and Analysis

Where do the worlds of smart grid and smart buildings overlap? In my weekly update at GigaOm Pro (subscription required), I dive into more detail on two big acquisitions in the intersection of smart grid and smart building announced last week, and I detail how the deals show just how muddy that line is becoming.

If you missed it here was the news: On Monday last week, French power giant Alstom announced it was acquiring UISOL, maker of one of the more popular demand response open software platforms among big U.S. grid operators. Then, on Tuesday, IBM announced plans to buy Tririga, which makes software that tracks energy use, carbon emissions and sustainability metrics across building portfolios of many Fortune 500 firms.

The first deal buys Alstom entrée into the world of automated demand response, at first on a system-wide level, but potentially entering the building-controls realm as well.

The second deal brings IBM a piece of energy efficiency and sustainability software built with the real estate portfolio manager in mind, as well as a big customer base that may be a target of IBM’s wide array of smart grid, smart building and smart city technologies.

Source: GigaOM

Greentech - For Electric Cars, 30-Minute Recharges - NYTimes.com
Most charging, experts say, will be done at home and at the workplace, where electric vehicle owners will have hours to connect their cars to high-power units, known as Level 2 chargers, that operate on 240-volt circuits. (Level 1 uses 120-volt household current.) Apartment buildings are also expected to offer Level 2 capability as a perk to attract eco-conscious tenants, though providing more than a few chargers per building may prove to be a challenge. Still, there will be times when electric cars will be out on the road, running on the electrical equivalent of fumes, and looking for a charge. The good news is that the top class of chargers, Level 3, includes units that can boost a typical electric car most of the way to full in just 30 minutes using about twice the voltage of a Level 2 charger. The logical place for fast charging would be stopover locations — a Starbucks coffee shop or a big-box store, for example. 

Greentech - For Electric Cars, 30-Minute Recharges - NYTimes.com

Most charging, experts say, will be done at home and at the workplace, where electric vehicle owners will have hours to connect their cars to high-power units, known as Level 2 chargers, that operate on 240-volt circuits. (Level 1 uses 120-volt household current.) Apartment buildings are also expected to offer Level 2 capability as a perk to attract eco-conscious tenants, though providing more than a few chargers per building may prove to be a challenge. Still, there will be times when electric cars will be out on the road, running on the electrical equivalent of fumes, and looking for a charge. The good news is that the top class of chargers, Level 3, includes units that can boost a typical electric car most of the way to full in just 30 minutes using about twice the voltage of a Level 2 charger. The logical place for fast charging would be stopover locations — a Starbucks coffee shop or a big-box store, for example. 

If we are going to spend billions of dollars to fix our ailing infrastructure, let’s make sure we do it right. Here are the technologies to make that happen. (via Smart Roads. Smart Bridges. Smart Grids. - WSJ.com)

If we are going to spend billions of dollars to fix our ailing infrastructure, let’s make sure we do it right. Here are the technologies to make that happen. (via Smart Roads. Smart Bridges. Smart Grids. - WSJ.com)