There’s an old way of thinking about energy efficiency. Humans have been installing better insulation and sealing up cracks in walls ever since the first caveman moved indoors. The field has advanced since then: We can buy efficient appliances, install double-paned windows, and replace old lights. Each of these measures reduces energy consumption and saves money. Today’s technology, however, promises to do so much more.
Internet-enabled efficiency, or the Industrial Internet, allows us to view energy consumption holistically and make changes, large and small, that scale to save energy in incredible amounts. The Christian Science Monitor Weekly’s cover story, entitled “How the Internet can lower your electric bill,” dug into the potential savings of a connected and data-driven approach to energy efficiency:
In the past it was, “How do I design an efficient light?” Now it’s, “How do I design a whole network of efficient lights that talk to one another via Web communications, adjust output automatically, and report back through online data portals that optimize performance?”
As AEE CEO Graham Richard wrote in a blog post for GE’s Industrial Internet blog, the Industrial Internet will fundamentally change the way we produce and consume energy. Greater insight into consumption habits can allow energy producers to be more agile. AEE member companies like Opower and EnerNOC are at the vanguard of this emerging industry. These demand response companies allow for better engagement between utility and consumer and greater energy security overall.
Ultimately, Richard writes, the true power of advanced energy “does not lie in one particular technology or service, or even their additive impact. Rather, it is in the ways in which they work together that is truly exciting. The Industrial Internet is a key part of tying them together.”
In other news this week, Solar City acquired Zep Solar for $158 million. Zep Solar, the leader in rail-free solar mounting systems, was already a major supplier for Solar City. Rail-free mounting systems allow for faster and cheaper installation of panels.
Biofuels Digest covered the opening of the world’s largest cellulosic biofuels plant this week. The plant, which is the result of collaboration between Beta Renewables and Novozymes, uses rice and wheat straw, as well as arundo donax, a “high-yielding energy crop grown on marginal land” as feedstock. This announcement, as well as other new advanced biofuels facilities, caused Time’s Bryan Walsh to note, “if the race to create workable next-generation biofuels has slowed, it’s far from over—and there may still be a few surprises.”
Finally, in a discussion about CEOs making their presence felt on Capitol Hill, Bloomberg Businessweek quotes Gia Schneider, of Natel Energy, an AEE Member. “My focus has been almost entirely on educating regulators and congressional members and staff on the opportunity we see in a new kind of hydropower,” she says. “I thought I’d be more effective because I have specific knowledge of the industry, the potential, and the challenges.”
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