NEWS: Street Lights That Do More, Energy from Waves, and DERMS for the Grid

Posted by Lexie Briggs on Feb 24, 2017 3:47:58 PM

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Image: Atlantis Resources has deployed the first AR1500 tidal energy turbine with new Lockheed Martin technology off the coast of Scotland. The installation, part of the MeyGen project, is designed to to provide clean, sustainable power for up to 175,000 homes.

This week, the headlines were full of AEE members doing what they do best: being on the vanguard of advanced energy technology and figuring out new ways to build the 21st century electricity system. Up this week: Street lights that get smart, aerospace technology put to work on ocean energy, and a new acronym for grid management in a distributed energy age.

First, from San Diego, we have a story about LED street lights leading to to something more. SmartGrid Today (subscription required) reports that the city is making a $30 million investment to deploy “the world’s largest smart city IOT sensor program.”

GE Reports has more details. The original decision to go with LED street lights was strictly economic. “We were broke,” said David Graham, San Diego’s deputy chief operating officer. “In the early 2000s, we went through about a decade of fiscal crisis, and we were trying to find ways to be more efficient, save money and reduce energy usage.”

The city ended up replacing 35,000 lights with high-efficiency LEDs, which saved more than $2 million annually. Then the city invested in LightGrid, a GE system that would help determine how the lights were operating and help optimize the entire system. This intelligent lighting system, however, opened up a host of possibilities. For one thing, the lighting nodes could detect parking availability and monitor traffic, by sensing where cars were located.

“I see streetlights as the platform to transform our communities,” said Graham. “They can help us connect us to our citizens, to provide a future where we’re able to better understand our neighborhoods and give them the services that they want.”

Meanwhile, across the Atlantic Ocean, AEE member Lockheed Martin is deploying its first tidal turbine off the coast of Scotland. Tidal energy, in which energy is collected from ocean wave action, is a challenge. Things placed in the ocean tend not to stay in one place. Good thing Lockheed Martin has been in challenging positions before. The ocean may be vast and unknowable, but Lockheed Martin has been to space.

As reported in Bloomberg last year, Lockheed Martin expects the company’s experience with high-tech military know-how and a century of developing energy technology for challenging conditions to help develop a solution. The AR1500 turbine uses materials and manufacturing practices that Lockheed Martin developed when it built the space shuttles.

“Tidal turbines must be highly reliable and resilient to withstand and operate within the tough environment of a sea floor,” Frank Armijo, vice president of Lockheed Martin Energy, said in a statement. “These design requirements are similar to the reliability and durability needs of many of our aerospace programs. With innovations in advanced manufacturing and materials, and experiences gained in the design and production of undersea systems, space projects and aeronautics, we're now helping to make tidal energy more reliable and effective.”

Finally, AEE member Enbala announced that the company had raised $12 million to build out a distributed energy resource management system (DERMS) to add to its existing grid software. Investors include ABB Technology Ventures, Siemens, GE Ventures, and others. Greentech Media calls DERMS a “hot commodity” for utilities with increasing penetration of solar on rooftops and other customer sites.

The DERMS software can be layered on top of utilities’ advanced distribution management software, extending it to behind-the-meter resources to create a continuously optimized network. This network can then provide real-time grid services, such as frequency regulation, which typically is provided by large, centralized generators

“There are a lot of utilities buying [advanced distribution management software] products, and all are looking for the extension into the DERMS world,” said Enbala CEO Bud Vos, in an interview with Greentech Media. “This opens up the ability to bring Enbala into those… deals.”

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Topics: News Update