Nextek Power Systems, Inc. was listed among the companies at the forefront of renewable energy technology in a USA Today web article on May 12.
The article (located below a large video) concerned tying improved battery technology to renewable power generation systems, such as solar or wind. Those renewables have always worked well when the power source is available. But when the wind isn’t blowing or the sun isn’t shining, those systems have had to revert back to using AC grid power. Better and long-lasting batteries mean that homes or buildings powered by renewables don’t have to use AC power as often, if at all.
A recent test by Nextek that was authorized by the U.S. Army’s Construction Engineering Research Laboratory (CERL) in Champaign, IL have shown that an entire building can be powered by solar, with enough energy left over to store in batteries, charge electric vehicle stations or even sell back to the AC energy companies.
The future of renewables is looking brighter almost every day, and Nextek is proud to be one of the companies lighting the way.
Nextek CEO Paul Savage was at the annual LightFair expo in Philadelphia recently, and was featured in a brief video produced by Retrofit Magazine, a journal dedicated to the growing market for retrofitting existing buildings with state-of-the-art equipment and functionality.
That philosophy integrates perfectly with Nextek’s Direct Current solutions, which allow businesses and building managers to upgrade their electrical systems to more efficient, lower-cost DC systems by retrofitting components without overhauling systems or making costly infrastructure changes.
In the video, Savage talks about Nextek and the EMerge Alliance, which is an open industry association developing standards leading to the rapid adoption of DC power distribution in commercial buildings. He also discusses the trend towards low-voltage interiors in the workplace, and the move towards providing high voltage car charging at workplace stations.
You can watch the video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IAE29WUmbrs
The future of energy generation and management for building environments headed the list of topics in a far-ranging interview with Nextek Power Systems CEO Paul Savage. The interview was posted on the CEOCFO Interviews web site on Monday, March 18.
Speaking to CEOCFO Senior Editor Lynn Fosse, Savage gave an overview of the energy industry today, and outlined how Nextek’s technology aims to bring what is essentially a 100-plus-year-old system into the 21st century. The key to these industry advancements is an integrated system that provides for direct current (DC) power generation from renewable sources, and advanced usage management, using computer models and wireless controls. Nextek markets this as its Direct Coupling® technology, and continues to research the possibilities for improvements in the system.
CEOCFO is an online site that conducts interviews with the heads of innovative companies.
In a step forward for the Direct Current industry, The National Electrical Code (NEC) will publish standards for Low Voltage Suspended Ceiling Power Distribution Systems in 2014. Both the U.S. and Canada’s Underwriters Laboratories are working to harmonize the standards in both countries.
The standards will be contained in NEC Article 393, and will include those for low voltage peripheral equipment certified for use with the grid systems. Previously, only standards for lighting equipment were referenced. The move is partly due to efforts by the EMerge Alliance®, an industry association dedicated to the adoption of new standards for DC power distribution within commercial buildings. Nextek Power Systems is a member of their Governing Board.
The new standards open the door for both developers and users to implement a variety of systems and equipment, such as security systems, audio speakers, and HVAC controls into the commercial building environment.
In conjunction, Underwriters Laboratories (UL) has updated and published the UL 2577 Outline of Investigation to expand its scope to allow for other low voltage peripheral equipment to be certified for use with the grid systems. That organization, which has standards development organization status in the U.S., will now work with its Canadian affiliate, ULC, to harmonize standards, since both countries have the ability to use low-voltage grid systems.
Low voltage suspended ceiling power distribution systems, now known as DC FlexZone Systems, were developed by Armstrong Industries in 2008. They send low-voltage (24VDC, which is safe to the touch) power directly through the grid, in lieu of wires. Equipment such as luminaires can simply be placed into the grid, and moved to different locations, without the need for expensive and time consuming rewiring.
When PNC Financial decided to push farther than the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Platinum certification for their model net-zero energy branch in Fort Lauderdale, the goal was high: 50% energy savings and the same or better comfort for staff and customers as compared to PNC’s 2500+ branches.
Thanks to solar panels on the roof and walkways, the building actually generates more electricity than it uses, sending the surplus to the grid. Sending excess power back to the grid is possible thanks to careful design and planning the company carried out with its architect, Gensler and green building consultant Paladino & Company.
PNC Financial specified a direct current (DC) power system from Nextek Power Systems to significantly increase the efficiency of their lighting system and its use of renewable energy generated at the building site. Nextek’s innovative Direct Coupling® platform eliminates wasteful power conversions inherent in conventional systems.
Most of the lighting in this PNC bank branch is connected to the Nextek patented DC microgrid that uses the solar power before it gets converted into grid-compatible ac power. This allows the power generated at the site to be used avoiding two conversions: one from DC (solar) to AC (the grid), as well as from AC (the grid) back to DC (the electronic light fixture) amounting to a large integrated efficiency improvement. When the sun’s not shining, the DC microgrid powers itself by converting the grid power into DC at higher efficiency than any single device can accomplish affordably on its own. For more, see the video AC or DC Power?
Nextek CEO Paul Savage says PNC Financial’s use of DC microgrid technology represents a growing trend in net-zero energy building design. “In today’s competitive marketplace it is not enough to install solar panels on the roof and put a plaque on the door announcing you’re sustainable. Thoughtful design that reduces the building’s power requirement first is what’s needed, and that’s what PNC is doing.” By connecting the clean DC power generated by the sun to dc consuming lighting inside the building, and adding daylight harvesting and other control strategies, the branch’s lighting will consume 70% less power from the grid.
Nextek Power Systems, Inc. is a founding member of a broad business alliance dedicated to the adoption of DC power systems (www.emergealliance.org).
PNC Bank is a member of The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc. (www.pnc.com). PNC (NYSE: PNC) is one of the nation’s largest diversified financial services organizations providing retail and business banking; residential mortgage banking; specialized services for corporations and government entities, including corporate banking, real estate finance and asset-based lending; wealth management and asset management. Follow @PNCNews on Twitter for breaking news, updates and announcements from PNC.
The EMerge Alliance is an open industry association leading the rapid adoption of safe DC power distribution in commercial buildings through the development of EMerge Alliance standards. These innovative standards integrate infrastructures, power, controls and devices in a common microgrid platform to facilitate the hybrid use of AC and DC power throughout buildings for unprecedented design and space flexibility, greater energy efficiency and improved sustainability. The nonprofit Alliance is accepting new members at various levels. For more information, please visit http://www.EMergeAlliance.org.
Nextek Power Systems is a pioneer in the invention, design and sales of Direct Coupling® power systems for buildings. These dc microgrids minimize the consumption of grid power, and provide an optimized path for distributed renewable resources like solar PV to do more work. Efficient, flexible and reliable, Nextek Power Systems are saving money for diverse customers around the world. Find out more at nextekpower.com.
Despite remarkable advancements in technology in the last century, the problem of potable drinking water for large segments of the world’s population persists. In fact, instead of alleviating the shortage of clean water, environmental and economic conditions in recent decades have contributed to its worsening. Today, as many as 1.2 billion people face shortages of drinking water.
Global warming, which in many places manifests in protracted, devastating droughts, coupled with rapidly growing populations and developing economies, makes creating and maintaining clean water supplies a critical need. But the growth in need has been accompanied by a decrease in future sources of traditional—read nonrenewable—energy. The cost of producing such energy has increased dramatically (the price of oil, for example, has gone up approximately 1500 percent since the early 1970s) and shows a long-term trend of skyrocketing even further as reserves lessen and new sources prove more difficult to access.
Water, of course, covers about 70 percent of the earth’s surface, but almost all of that is seawater, so the issue becomes converting the vast quantities of saltwater into freshwater. But the conversion of saltwater into fresh is energy intensive. Consider that the production of desalinated water costs 2.1 times more than retrieving fresh groundwater and 70 percent more than surface water, as well as the fact that energy expenditures account for 60 to 70 percent of the day-to-day operating costs of a seawater conversion plant (according to an article published by The New York Times), and it becomes imperative to understand that the clean water issue is inseparable from that of developing feasible renewable energy sources.
Progress in the science of desalinization therefore must be accompanied by better water conservation techniques, and most importantly by developments in renewable energy technology.
In other words, make energy less expensive and feasible production of clean water will follow. Solar, wind, biomass, geothermal, wave and other forms of renewables, especially when used in combination, can provide virtually uninterruptable sources of power—power that can be harnessed to fuel the production of clean water from saltwater.
Further, the development of microgrid technology means several of these renewable technologies can be deployed at virtually any location, without connection to the main power grid. For example, some remote communities in Haiti now use portable solar power charging stations to provide energy for lighting, cooking and other needs, and connect their residents to the rest of the world for the first time in their lives. On a larger scale, such technology could eventually make community-based, remote desalinization operations possible around the world, improving health, sanitation, agriculture and more. This is a future in which governments, businesses and individuals can all participate.
Although the cost of renewable energy is today still higher than traditional sources, progress in the field’s technology indicates that discrepancy is rapidly diminishing, and that within the foreseeable future renewables will be cheaper to produce.
Advancements in the areas of clean water production and renewable energy must go forward hand-in-hand to provide the quantities of freshwater needed throughout the world in the future. The cost to develop these technologies will prove less than that of finding and extracting nonrenewables, and far less than the cost in quality of life for billions of people around the world if clean water remains out of their reach.
NOTE: This blog has been entered in the Masdar “Engage: The Water-Energy Nexus” contest. See the contest entries here: www.masdar.ae/engage. And please vote for our entry at http://masdar.ae/en/adsw/detail/how-to-vote.
The STAR (Stationary or Transportable Available Resource) Trailer is a portable solar panel and charging station that provides electrical power and battery packs to areas of the world where grid power remains unavailable. For example, several of the units are in use in Haiti.
The tree ornaments were handmade by Zoo staff and volunteers, made primarily from discarded plastic bottles. The tree also includes 1,000 LED lights that are powered by the STAR Trailer. The “Green” tree is part of the Detroit Zoological Society’s Green Initiatives. The society has developed a plan called the Greenprint, a comprehensive strategic guides to operations and which refines and improves facilities and daily practices, develop new policies and programs and improves green literacy in the community.
For more information regarding the Detroit Zoo’s Green Initiatives, visit http://www.detroitzoo.org/about/greenprint.
EMerge Alliance® members Philips and Armstrong Ceilings have partnered to develop complete building lighting solutions that will accelerate the adoption of low-voltage Direct Current (DC) technologies. The solutions will be compatible with Armstrong’s DC FlexZone ceiling systems, a plug-and-play design that allows for maximum design flexibility and efficiency.
FlexZone ceiling designs (as well as virtually all DC uses) integrate perfectly into Nextek Power Systems Direct Coupling® microgrid systems, which connect a variety of renewable power resources to building loads, without the usual power loss associated with inversion to AC power and the subsequent rectification back to DC.
A major advantage of such a system, as noted in the aftermath of hurricane Sandy, is its independence from the AC grid. Buildings sat without electrical power for days or weeks after the storm. DC Microgrid systems can operate both in conjunction with the grid, or, when necessary, in a completely stand-alone mode.
For more information about how a DC microgrid can work in your business environment, contact Nextek Power Systems at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information about Armstrong’s DC FlexZone ceiling systems, see http://www.armstrong.com/commceilingsna/article55189.html.
For information about the EMerge Alliance® see http://www.emergealliance.org/.
High performance buildings are designed and built for flexibility and efficiency. The built environment is no longer viewed as a non-performing asset, but rather a tool to leverage people and process to achieve the desired business results. Optimizing the performance of people and process requires building standards and design that consider the occupants, their culture and the need for adaptive and flexible space that supports the changing demographics and work styles of today, with a considerable bias in improving building efficiency and cost.
In the past, the flexible and modular architectural elements combined with raised flooring, incorporating under floor air distribution (UFAD), defined a high performance building. The reality was these design principles often applied to new construction, where the building design was initiated on a blank sheet of paper. Additionally, flexible and energy efficient building design began with a paradigm of AC power distribution without consideration of more energy efficient DC power. Further, these high performance buildings have too often been devoid of the use of Photovoltaic (PV) or other alternative energy resources to contribute to the power requirements of the overall building or even the lighting systems within.
Today, with the efforts of EMerge Alliance® and many lighting industry leaders, along with Nextek Power Systems, high performance buildings can be taken to a new level of flexibility and energy efficiency. With the integration of a flexible DC Microgrid strategy that is capable of future-proofing your facilities, with options for Direct Coupling® of PV arrays or other alternative energy options. With simple gateways for alternative energy—minimizing the energy lost through unneeded and inefficient inversions—a high performance building can be designed with a more flexible and energy efficient lighting system that also better adapts to changing technology in lighting.
Finally, high performance buildings must support or allow the user to make quick changes to lighting fixtures. With safe Class 2 DC power, fixtures are not only more efficient, but are easily changed within a drop ceiling or open architecture. With savings of up to 30% from new efficient DC lighting system strategies, and the flexibility to support the changing demographics of today’s workforce, high performance buildings can deliver like never before.
Nextek Power Systems’ power server solution is featured on the TechConnect Innovation Spotlight, as a follow up to a presentation made at the TechConnect World’s Utility Technology Challenge (UTC) in Santa Clara, CA earlier this year. The article notes that Nexteks Direct Coupling® technology improves energy efficiency by 10% to 42% by utilizing the lowest cost sources of power first, before resorting to AC grid power. The system also improves efficiency by directly connecting DC loads to DC power, avoiding the power losses inherent in inverting power to AC and back again, as other systems do.
Nextek Key Accounts Manager Jeff Daudert, who attended UTC, said the event was a great opportunity to share the company’s advancements with representatives of other companies and technologies. For more information about Nextek’s Direct Coupling® and other technologies, contact us at email@example.com.
TechConnect is a global technology outreach and development organization that is dedicated to bringing together emerging technology providers with corporate and investment development partners.