Smart Grid Benefits from the Wisdom of the Crowd

Tech and Creative Labs (TCLABZ) was born out of the disruptive innovation realization that insight could be extracted from the online interaction of people trying to figure out what is going on, what might happen next, and what if I do “X” instead of “Y”?  We believe in the wisdom of the crowd to provide a fast, efficient, consistent basis for evaluating opportunities and risks across alternative views of the global business future.  We see scenario analysis as a powerful qualitative partner to the predictive energy analysis of supply and demand.  But the distributed energy future is an interactive sport leveraging data to filter, synthesize and see patterns and then trends that turn into insight that helps us modify our behavior and target our choices to get better results, better performance and better benefits from our distributed energy future.  New technology is delivering performance —but the “+” depends upon each of us acting and interacting guided by insight to meet our personal and business interests.

Ready or not welcome to the future!

By now you probably have a smart meter on the your house or business and you are asking yourself—what’s the big deal.  Your utility spent millions to deploy smart meters to gather and make available data about energy use.  The utility is using it to make better business decisions and to reduce operating expenses.   What are you doing with it?

Smart meters are just the beginning the transformation at work to a distributed energy future. Making sense of uncertainty and its strategic implications for your business in today’s economy requires more than data and analytics skills to proactively assess opportunities and risk.  Predictive technology is helping us find clues about changes taking place from the patterns of interactions across the markets.  Making sense of these patterns and using them to extract insight, assess options, and chart business plans across alternative, expected business environments combines the best of scenario analysis with the predictive analysis of data trends to extract insight—for your business!

The big unanswered question is whether customers will get the benefits of smart meter deployments.  But your smart meter only provides data—you must do something with it to get benefits!   TCLABZ Performance + is designed to help you make choices by combining your smart meter data, your business needs and performance with the wisdom of the crowd doing the same thing to assess opportunit5ies and risks, change your energy behaviors where and when it makes sense and to capture the benefits of smart grid.

To succeed in this distributed energy future you need partners, tools, and the wisdom of the crowd to make choices that make sense for you and your business. This advanced interaction of a knowledge based crowd for competitive distributed energy markets provides the best of qualitative scenario analysis with advanced predictive analytics to improve your odds in managing uncertainty with the amazing power of ‘what if’. Your smart meter gives you data.  Data gives you choices.   Whether your choices produce benefits or bruises to your bottom line depends upon you!

Microgrids and the Distributed Energy Future Need ConnexXTions

The promise of smart grid is creating a sustainable, scalable, modular, standardized approach to the power grid of the future.  Achieving this yoga-like perfection requires that we simultaneously ‘go big’ and ‘go small’.

Going big means bridging the gaps between the regional interconnects so new sources of clean energy can scale sufficiently to be profitable and reach markets with the best potential.  This means building high voltage transmission to bring renewable solar and wind energy from remote locations to load centers.  Scale is also needed to make demand response profitable by enabling constant energy management suppliers to aggregate enough commercial and industrial customers to reliably supply the demand response product when called upon.

Going small means marshaling the inside the fence generation and combined heat and power from industrial customers and build the microgrid networks of small scale commercial and residential players to enable net zero buildings. Going small also means a paradigm shift for utilities moving from a massive deployment of new technology much like we saw with smart meters to a more targeted, segmented, adaptive menu of technology applications designed to solve specific distribution automation problems or to deliver target new energy and information services to meet customer needs.

Going small also means segmenting the utility customer base and developing solutions appropriate to each segment.  It means looking for the benefits of smart grid and other technologies in their capacity to deliver information and services other than energy to customers.  This will be very hard for utilities at first because they must un-learn their traditional utility business model culture and take on the flexible, agile, adaptive cultural traits of their customers across segments to provide the most value added benefits and services.

What’s missing?

Energy strategy and risk insight is key to creating a reliable, sustainable distributed energy future that reduces our dependence upon traditional fossil resources.  Understanding how technology choices for microgrids, dynamic pricing and energy product strategies can change customer behavior— including yours to optimize your energy use by balance energy efficiency, demand response and self-generation.  But the markets are fragmented and it will be necessary to assess your technology, business and product strategies across alternative scenarios to evaluate the uncertainties in this transformation at work toward our distributed energy future.

Interactive data visualization will be key for both utilities trying to assure reliability and customers seeking to get the best price and service possible.  We know that smart meters can collect and deliver energy use pattern information.  But as customers we are still uncertain about how to best use that information and insight.

Dynamic tools for making informed choices in the distributed energy future. Experimentation is rampant and success is uneven.  This is the way of technology transformation at work.  But this isn’t some nuts and berries fantasy.  One of the largest microgrids in use today is at the University of California at San Diego that has turned its campus into an electrical lab using its microgrid to improve campus energy management and learning from that use to improve the science and technology of distributed energy. Now SMUD, the Sacramento Municipal Utility District is undertaking a similar but smaller scale project turning its own office complex into a microgrid for the same R&D purposes.

Building all this new technology requires standards to assure that the components work together and play together nicely when interconnected with the power grids across North America.  The microgrid SMUD is building will use the standards developed by CERTS. The CERTS system was among the first to standardize microgrid-grid interconnections. Microgrids are now taking shape at every campus of the California State University System to accelerate the transition to our distributed energy future.

The Consortium for Electric Reliability Technology Solutions (CERTS) was formed in 1999 to research, develop, and disseminate new methods, tools, and technologies to protect and enhance the reliability of the U.S. electric power system and efficiency of competitive electricity markets.  CERTS is a Department of Energy/California Energy Commission-led group focused on inverter technologies to allow the fast, safe disconnection and reconnection of microgrids to the larger grid essential to allowing microgrid power to serve as backup and stabilizer for the grid.

One advantage of microgrids is that they can be assembled and put into service quickly from standard components.  The lessons learned from these early projects will be incorporated in other microgrids.  There are many players involved in these microgrid projects including CERTS which helps design the facility.  That design plan was tested with help by the US DOE and the California Energy Commission at a test facility operated by American Electric Power.  Tecogen is providing the CHP reciprocating engine generators which recover waste heat for reuse by SMUD’s heating and cooling systems.  This integrated design improves the efficiency of the project from a typical 30% efficiency for the generators to 80% thus making the output much more valuable. CERTS design for the project also uses digital power static transfer switches to monitor the power grid and seamlessly disconnect and reconnect without a reduction in power quality as required by most of the RTO/ISO grid operators in the event of a major system problem thus creating an “islanding” capability so they are able to operate in isolation from the grid.  Perfecting these techniques is a key part of assuring long term grid reliability in a smart grid enabled distributed energy future.

Put the full data analytics potential of your enterprise MS OfficeTM connections in your business together with the web analytics power of MS DynamicsTM to target sales lead generation to the entities most likely to need your products and solutions based upon the patterns revealed from text analysis of your customer and staff connections inside and the text and semantic analysis of the wisdom of the crowd from online web analytics.

Quit wasting your sales and marketing time and money.  Put the full dynamic analytics power of your Microsoft solutions to work with TCLABZConnexXTionsTM.