A New Way of Thinking About the Future of Energy Management

Rapid changes in the way business and industry think about energy generation and management, including the implementation of renewable resources and the Smart Grid, have led to a new term to describe the field: Transactive Energy. Nextek Power Systems has been developing aspects of this technology for years. We just never called it that.

The term has proven so popular that a Transactive Energy Conference 2013 was held in Portland, OR last week. Attendees had workshop options like “Business Models and Value Realization,” “Transactive Energy Functional Requirements” and “Enabling Cyber-Physical Infrastructure (theory-Grid Integration).” The working description of Transactive Energy is “involving techniques for managing the generation, consumption or flow of electric power within an electric power system through the use of economic or market based constructs while considering grid reliability constraints.”

Essentially this means developing technology that decentralizes power distribution, providing input and control at the consumer end, as well as the producer end. Instead of power coming exclusively from a utility, transactive energy can also come from renewable sources located at the user’s site, for example, a solar panel array on a building roof. The fact that energy is produced at both locations means consumers can reduce reliance on the main power grid, lowering costs and maintaining power during outages or cyber attacks. And excess on-site energy can be used to charge electric vehicles or even be sold back to the grid to further offset costs and provide energy to other users.

Transactive energy also includes tremendous advancements in energy monitoring and control. Currently, Nextek is partnering with a variety of organizations to develop a wireless energy control system that is capable of “learning” the habits and needs of a user’s environment, and making energy-saving decisions more quickly and effectively than through human control.

Having a name for this increasingly important field of study helps lend some credibility to it, but doesn’t change the fact that Nextek is committed to playing a vital role in bringing the new technology it represents from the drawing board to implementation.