Category Archives: Energy

Efficiency During The Holidays: What’s the cost of decorating?

Dominion North Carolina has put together a calculator to help figure the cost to light your home — but it may fall short for the true holiday fanatic. The app only lets you assume running 150 strings of lights for 24 hours/day — certainly not up to Clark Griswold standards:

Maxing out Dominion’s calculator would mean burning 396 Kwh/day at  cost of about $1,300 in December. But it is the holidays, after all, and you could turn the lights off during the day.

National Grid included among its holiday tips a “smart baking” section, and noted that “on average, a whole meal can be cooked in a slow cooker for 17 cents worth of electricity.” The utility suggests using the smallest appliance, pan and burner while cooking to save energy, and notes microwave ovens require less than half the energy of a conventional oven.

And does your neighborhood go all-out on the homefront decorations? A string of lights on the tree or mantle may not draw that much power, but according to National Grid more elaborate decorations come with a cost.

Yard inflatables can which range from simple blow-up cartoon characters to large globes with rotating figures, blowing snow and lights. “Large globes consume about 150 watts per hour, while rotating carousels consume around 200 watts. At 10 hours per day, the total cost of electricity could be $10 per inflatable, per month,” the utility said.

Full artcle @ UtilityDive

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US Navy Provides $3 Million In Fuding For Wave Energy Project

It’s been a while since we checked into the US Navy wave energy test site in Hawaii, but our friends over at Columbia Power Technologies steered us in that direction to check out their new StingRAY wave energy converter. The device, which is slated for utility-scale wave energy generation, will get its first full open-water demo at the facility. The US Navy has funded the project through its Naval Facilities and Engineering Command to the tune of $3 million.

Those of you familiar with wave energy (and its sister, tidal energy) know that this emerging alternative energy field is fraught with challenges, especially when you’re talking about utility-scale development. While the kinks are being worked out you’re going to see a lot of variation in design, so let’s take a look and see how Columbia Power’s StingRAY works that out.

Basically, wave energy converters rely on the natural movement of waves to drive a piston up and down, move a drive shaft, or stir up some other form of mechanical motion. The mechanical energy gets converted to electricity by a generator and there you have it.

That sounds simple enough, but aside from Scotland, which seems to have taken the ball and run with it, the global wave energy field hasn’t been keeping up with other forms of alternative energy, most notably wind and solar.

That could be about to change. The wave energy field seems to be taking some lessons learned from wind energy, as demonstrated by the StingRAY wave energy converter. The heart of the converter is a direct-drive system that eliminates excess moving parts, along with permanent magnet generators.

The StingRAY is built from corrosion-resistant composite materials, and it is designed with modularity in mind to reduce the cost of maintenance and repair. Also helping to build in efficiencies and lower costs is a single-point mooring system.

The generators convert the wave energy to electricity, which is then stabilized for grid compatibility before being sent off the device via cable. Columbia Power envisions an offshore “substation” to assemble the electricity from multiple devices before sending it to the grid

The StingRAY was designed with an eye toward avoiding some of the aesthetic concerns that can bedevil offshore wind farms, most notably in the case of the Cape Wind project off the coast of Massachusetts.

As you can see from the photo, and the “waterline” indication on the schematic, the StingRAY has a low above-water profile, which is practically nothing when compared to offshore wind turbines. The system was designed for deployment in depths of more than 60 meters, typically located at least a mile or more offshore.

Don’t hold your breath for the full scale demo project to hit the water — it’s slated for 2016 — but in the meantime you can check out more projects at the Navy’s Wave Energy Test Site (WETS — cute, right?).

Full Article @ CleanTechnica

New Toyota Fuel-Cell Car Could Power Your Home

It may be hidden behind a fuzzy grey triangular panel in the trunk, but the 2016 Toyota Mirai fuel-cell car offers a novel and innovative feature that could let it power your home for a day or two in the event of an emergency.

Toyota executives say they haven’t decided whether to offer the power-out capability on the 200 Mirais that will be sold in the U.S. next year.

A power-out jack and associated energy station, not currently offered on any passenger cars, would likely offer a unique selling proposition that underscores the Mirai’s ability to generate emission-free electricity–and quite a lot of it too.

The energy capacity of the fuel-cell vehicle’s 5 kilograms of hydrogen, compressed at 10,000 psi, is more than 150 kilowatt-hours.

While a portion of that energy is lost in the conversion from hydrogen to electricity, the Toyota press materials say that’s enough to power a household for up to seven days.

That would like not be a typical U.S. household–using 32 kWh a day–but a typical Japanese one, at a considerably more modest 10 kWh.

The plug itself uses a CHAdeMO connector, and would connect to an energy station that converts the high-voltage direct current from the Mirai’s fuel cell into the 100-volt alternating current used in Japanese buildings.

Full Article @ Business Insider Via Green Car Reports

Essess – Startup Gets $10.8 Million In VC To Detect Energy Leaks

Over the past few years, Essess Inc. has deployed cars mounted with imaging sensors to drive around the U.S. creating heat maps that show which homes aren’t sealed properly, wasting energy and their owners’ money.

The startup, which told Venture Capital Dispatch it raised $10.75 million since its founding in 2011 from venture investors, is now rolling out its technology for use by power utilities.

The idea is that utilities could use the information collected and processed by Essess to tell their customers where exactly their “house envelopes” are leaking, and what fixes could improve the seal.

This approach, according to Essess Chief Executive Thomas Scaramellino, could help utilities and customers make improvements in energy savings that are larger and longer-lasting than simply replacing an old lightbulb with a more efficient one, for example.

Essess, whose roots are in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is joining a growing number of startups that are going after the billions of dollars that utilities in the U.S. must spend on energy-efficiency programs under state mandates.

The goal of the tech companies is to lower the cost of analyzing which buildings are most wasteful and pinpoint the reasons remotely, in order to avoid in-person and expensive energy audits.

Essess has a high-tech method, with a focus on the “building envelope.” It’s using advances in robotics, computer vision and machine learning, and collects more than three terabytes of data each night, the CEO said.

Heat leaking from window frames, doors and poorly insulated attics and walls can make people uncomfortable and power use inefficient. The company’s approach allows it to gather a lot of information about many homes quickly, and yet produce very specific home-by-home results. It can pinpoint exactly where air is leaking in each individual home, the company says. It says that it can do thermal scans of entire utility service territories in days or weeks.

Full Article @ WSJ

How the most efficient states convince utilities to conserve energy

When it comes to promoting energy efficiency, it’s all about incentives.

The least energy efficient states in the nation have no efficiency resource standards in place, a new nationwide survey finds, and typically do not have policies in place that treat energy efficiency as a resource.

Conversely, state law in Massachusetts requires utilities to prioritize cost-effective energy efficiency over other resources when making procurement decisions, and the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) has named Massachusetts as the most efficiency state for the fourth consecutive year.

Essentially, development of specific energy savings targets for utilities or independent statewide program administrators is one of the most direct and effective efforts a state can take to become more efficient, according to the ACEEE’s annual State Energy Efficiency Scorecard.

“States are truly at the forefront of energy efficiency policy in the United States,” said Maggie Molina, Director of ACEEE’s Utilities, State, and Local Policy program.”What we’ve found is when the right state policy tools are in place, consumers are then in power to make smarter efficiency choices.”

This eighth version of the scorecard greater emphasis on utility and public policy, and for the first time includes a metric worth negative points. ACEEE notes, for instance, that the past year has seen a rise in efforts from large customers to completely opt out of energy efficiency programs. The report subtracted one point from states that allow such opt outs without requiring customers to demonstrate equivalent investments in energy efficiency.

For the most part, the rankings bear out as might be expected—states in the southeast and states with significant oil and gas production find themselves ranked lower in efficiency. The more efficient states have a reputation for valuing efficiency and green power. The scorecard uses a 50-point scale, with 20 of those possible points coming from the utility sector.

Massachusetts, for example, has a perfect 20/20 utility score in ACEEE’s rankings.

California was followed by a three-way tie between Oregon (15/20 utility score), Rhode Island (20/20) and Vermont (18.5/20). On the lower side of the list, North Dakota (0/20) was named the least-efficient state, followed byWyoming (2/20), South Dakota (3.5/20), Mississippi (1/20) and Alaska (0/20).

But a closer look at ACEE’s findings reveals policy similarities impacting utilities, ratepayers, and the ancillary industries built around the power industry…

Full Article @ Utility Dive

Indiana Utilities Offering Cheap or Free Electric Vehicle Charging

Through January 31, 2017, Northern Indiana Public Service Company (NIPSCo) will bill nothing to EV owners in its territory who have installed a separate meter to charge their vehicles if they do it between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.

Another Indianapolis utility charges $0.023 per kilowatt-hour for overnight charging, making the cost of driving a Tesla Model S less than $0.01 per mile, according to Green Car Reports.

In addition to free nighttime charging, NIPSCo is also offering a $1,650 voucher for meter installation to the first 250 customers who do so. To date, 125 customers signed up for this “Rider 685” program.

Chadbourne and Parke Partner Keith Martin recently pointed out that Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities Chair Ann Berwick has called transportation electrification a potential “salvation” of utilities because of the way it would revive the diminishing demand for electricity. And Southern Company CEO Tom Fanning has said, according to Martin, that transportation electrification could make utilities better investments by driving demand for electricity.

Full Article @ Utility Dive

Keystone showdown in U.S. emerges as report warns of oil supply threats

Financial Post | Business

The U.S. Congress prepared to hold votes on the Keystone XL pipeline, Thursday, just as a new report confirmed that Americans need it more than they might think. The International Energy Agency (IEA) predicted that the tight-oil boom that has helped wean the U.S. off imports will likely run out of steam in the next decade.

[np_storybar title=”U.S.-China climate change deal contrasts embarrassingly with World Energy Outlook” link=”http://business.financialpost.com/2014/11/12/peter-foster-obamas-climate-derangement-syndrome/”]

Peter Foster: U.S. has committed to inflicted domestic pain while China has committed to nothing except more emissions

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U.S. Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu said she would propose a vote on Thursday to approve the US$8-billion project, which would transport 830,000 barrels a day, primarily from Canada’s oil sands, to refineries in Texas.

Ms. Landrieu, who is at risk of losing her Louisiana seat in a runoff election in December, said on the Senate floor Wednesday she was “confident” she…

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