GreenSource First Solution: California's Perfect Electric Storm Waiting to Happen!
The GreenSource First Solution is a strategy for using energy produced onsite with solar for lighting and air conditioning before accessing the utility grid, especially since the bulk of the peak summer demand is for cooling and lighting. This is Application Specific Generation and is the most efficient way to use locally generated power. California utilities are vulnerable to a perfect electric storm waiting to happen during hot summer days when the lights and air conditioning systems are turned on high, and the transmission freeway grid goes down due to earthquakes, terrorists attacks, power shortages or accidents caused by fire, wind or computer glitches. The confluence of threats such as the increasing annual electricity demand of 1,500 megawatts; the limited and congested urban transmission grid; the limited gas pipeline capacity and volatile natural gas price; and the unpredictable climate changes created by Global Warming are compounding the problems for utilities to manage the risk of a 'perfect electric storm' from happening.
An innovative solution to avoid the 'perfect electric storm is the GreenSource First Solution that SUN Utility Network, Inc. has packaged. The solution is to design a 'hybrid building' with multiple sources of power from the utility grid, solar energy, and batteries as well as solar absorption cooling application and solar lighting direct coupling strategies. In this case, the site uses the locally generated power first, and draws from the grid only when additional power is needed. This reduces the power demand, especially during expensive peak power times and provides uninterruptible backup power from the local sources; solar power, batteries, and solar thermal storage.
TheGreenSource First Solution provides the grid with the necessary headroom to provide the power during hot summer days; reduces the customer's peak energy cost and demand charges; saves maintenance service cost for the Distributed Generation service company; reduces CO2 emissions and participate in the Global Warming/Climate Change Accord; and replaces fossil fuel with free solar energy.
RealEnergy, the bankrupt distributed generation company, may have had a business proposition, but not a value proposition to compete with the utility monopolies. RealEnergy's business proposition was to compete with the utilities with a distributed generation strategy that was based primarily on high maintenance micro turbines and volatile natural gas costs. To compound the problem, they were competing with the utilities on delivering base load electricity that cost them more to produce than that from the utility. The company was producing electricity to run the compression chillers that required ninety percent (90%) more electricity to operate than the solar absorption chillers. A significant percentage of energy produced by the photovoltaic panels (15 to 40 percent) was lost due to inverter and converter losses. These combinations of high maintenance and service requirements, volatile fuel prices, and inefficient use of solar energy can only spell disaster for a $75 million startup business. In order for DG companies to succeed in the utility monopoly game, they must understand the critical problems and vulnerability of the central power grid delivery system strategy that the utility companies business propositions are dependent on. In order for DG companies to compete with utilities, they have to bank on using free or inexpensive fuel source, provide more efficient power, and save the customers money. They have to use equipment with minimum moving parts to reduce service and maintenance costs, access to a free energy source like the sun, and reduce the customers high cost of energy during peak summer periods, where the utilities are most vulnerable.
What Would Thomas Edison Do?
The following is excerpted from an article by the president of Nextek, Paul Savage 'What Would Edison Do?' The article appeared in Energy Pulse News.
"The opportunity for the country today to improve the delivery system for power lies in the hidden inefficiency that the AC/DC status quo represents. Because nearly all the distributed generation technologies (solar, wind, fuel cell, etc.) intrinsically produce direct current, and not the alternating current found in the electric grid, we need to directly connect those sources to DC-consuming loads in our buildings. By skipping the step where this DC power is converted to AC power and then converted back again to DC at the device, large efficiencies (of 15 to 40 percent) can be realized. This new kind of power-and-use interface would act like a router, providing a direct path for DC sources to service DC loads, as well as providing connectivity to the grid. The country would immediately see, not only increased capacity in the conventional grid, but also greater intrinsic reliability for customers through the redundancy such an interface would bring. We are suggesting a path exactly parallel to what happened in the PC revolution. Personal computers disbursed to the individual desktop the computing power formerly resident in mainframes standing in glass rooms. This massive improvement in connectivity that the PC brought to users is exactly what electricity customers are calling for. Like the PC, "the DC solution" fosters more choice and ultimately more energy independence. By supporting the connectivity of customers to multiple sources of electricity, we can help the grid reclaim some of the headroom it needs so badly. Also, by inserting an interface for power delivery that customers can safely have access to, another benefit is created: it would make end-users look more closely at the appliances they buy, and consider the power needed to run them.
Audubon Center:The Perfect GreenSource First Solution Showcase The off-grid Audubon Solar Center (5,023 sq. ft.) in Los Angeles is a perfect showcase of an ultimate Distributed Generation onsite solar power system for an office and conference center in the City of Los Angeles. The Center integrates solar-thermal, solar-electric, and passive solar, and bioclimatic design to create a zero fossil energy building. The major inefficiency of the overall system is that the solar DC power source must be inverted to AC power to accommodate the AC motors to run the air and water pumps. The AC power must than be converted to DC power to run the electronic equipment, the domain of DC power.
The GreenSource First Solution is a sensible and simple strategy to avoid the 'Perfect Electric Storm' from happening in California.Ultimately, the central power system will migrate to the on-site power generations system with solar and hydrogen. Just as we have seen the transition of the communications technology from wired Ma Bell phones to wireless cell phones and the transition of the information technology from wired mainframe computers to wireless laptop and hand-held computers. We must come to realize the only sensible infinite energy source is the sun. The faster we start to build a Green Economy based on solar energy and hydrogen, and deconstruct the Gray Economy based on fossil energy, we will be able to create a sustainable future in the 21st century.