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DC microgrid


Someday, an Auto Company Will Double Its Sales by Selling Electric Drivetrains to Buildings

By Paul Savage Ten years ago, hybrid automobiles hit the road. While they aren’t yet sprouting up everywhere today, their little brother start/stop is. That continuing trend will create an opportunity for an automobile manufacturer to address the new market segments that David Crane is talking about. This changing utility model includes the battery management systems, charging and solar PV interfaces that Robyn Beavers is blazing a trail for.

What’s really interesting is that these components are all strikingly similar to the electronic components now included in your Ford Fusion,  FiatUSA’s 500 or GM’s Chevy Volt or Spark. And yet there are no parts in common between the mobile and stationary worlds. It doesn’t need to be this way.

None of this is news to the EMerge Alliance members who are working towards greater interoperability and parts commonality between these markets. But a big auto manufacturer hasn’t jumped in yet. Only a smaller one, Tesla Motors, has been making progress in this area. Tesla has many of the elements in place, and the cross-holdings of Elon Musk in SolarCity suggest he’ll be hunting for the largest possible market for these electronic platforms, along with the many batteries he wants to build for them. Amory Lovins has famously said there’s an enormous oilfield under Detroit, referring to the value waiting to be unlocked through more efficient vehicle design. Maybe there’s a car in every building just itching to get out and show how it can help too.

This is dramatic cross-silo thinking. I want Ernest Moniz to have a go-to guy in charge, and the Department of Energy Press Secretary to toot the American Ingenuity Horn about how the path to our future energy grid can run right through Motown. The autos have the justified reputation for reliability and cost containment – let’s pay them back by opening up a market to their skills that’s three times the size of their addressable market today: stationary power systems in buildings.

Paul Savage is the CEO of Nextek Power Systems, located at the Next Energy Center, and a founder of the EMerge Alliance.

@NRGDavidCrane, @robynbeavers, @fordfusion, @FiatUSA, @GM @ChevyVolt, @EMergeAlliance, @teslamotors, @elonmusk, @solarcity, @amorylovins, @ernestmoniz, @EnergyPressSec, @nextenergymi



Nextek CEO Paul Savage is Keynote Speaker at Microgrid Summit


Nextek Power Systems Inc. CEO Paul Savage will be a keynote speaker at Microgrid Global Summit 2014 in Newport Beach, CA on May 22. His speech, “DC Microgrids and the Internet of Things,” will address some of the business and technological challenges that face microgrid energy stakeholders. The four-day event will bring an international constituency from around the world to share insights regarding best practices and lessons learned in a truly global forum.

Event themes include:

  • What are the business models for key stakeholders?
  • What are the essential value propositions?
  • What regulatory changes will be required?
  • How can microgrids integrate with existing operations?
  • What are the latest enabling technology advances?
  • How can we best work together to move forward?

The Global Summit is intended for professionals at utility organizations of all varieties who wish to meet the microgrid opportunity head-on. This includes investor owned, municipal, and co-op energy providers in major metropolitan areas around the world as well as in rural and remote / off-grid environments.

The event is produced by the Advanced Power and Energy Program of the University of California at Irvine, in partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy, CleanTechOC, Navigant Research, the U.S. Department of Defense, and a variety of other organizations.



Nextek Power Systems Partners with Leading Technology and Energy Providers to Build China’s First Direct-Current Microgrid

Nextek Power Systems has announced a partnership with the School of Energy Research at Xiamen University, and several other technology companies, to create the first direct-current powered commercial building in China. Nextek joins Canadian Solar, Intel Corporation, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and People Power Company in the collaborative effort, which is designed to showcase technology that will change the way China manages, controls and consumes energy. The project will integrate renewable energy sources and storage batteries to serve building electrical loads through one-touch mobile and web-based energy management systems and controls.

This effort is especially significant because Chinese building energy consumption methods, if unchanged, could account for 20 percent of the world’s 2020 global coal consumption, according to the National Resources Defense Council. New Chinese building energy codes call for at least 50 percent energy savings at less than a 10 percent cost increase, compared to existing building costs.

Nextek Power Systems’ role will be to introduce the first Direct Coupling® Microgrid in mainland China that will incorporate diverse energy loads such as direct-current lighting, air conditioning, data centers, electrical vehicle charging and building plug loads.

“Nextek Power Systems is delighted to be working with our friends at LBNL, Intel, People Power Company, Canadian Solar and Xiamen University to field our first significant installation in the country,” said Paul Savage, CEO of Nextek Power Systems. “We think the opportunities that will spring from this are endless.”

People Power Company will provide cloud-based energy management, control and behavioral analytics applications that will enable building managers to control and manage building loads. Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory will develop methods and algorithms for the optimal equipment choice and operation of direct-current microgrids. Canadian Solar will provide customized solar panels for this rooftop solar system and Intel will provide technical expertise and advice on the research



A Glimpse at the Future of Renewable Energy

If our nation and world are to harness renewable energies and become truly independent of fossil fuels, it will take more than new technologies to complete the transition. We will also need some way in which to manage the various resources so we can keep our energy grid operating at maximum capacity with minimum down time—in short to maintain a state that delivers as much power as the current electrical grid, at less cost and damage to the environment. Solar, wind, hydroelectric, biomass, geothermal and other energy sources are all subject to large changes in the amount of power they can produce at any particular time. Clouds block the sun, the wind dies, water flow changes—how can we balance our energy needs with what we can produce?

A company in California has taken a first step towards anticipating and managing renewable energy sources. Space Time Insight has developed geospatial and visual analytics solutions that synthesize real-time meteorological, geothermal and other data into intuitive visual displays that help energy managers anticipate power production. Several utility companies are already using the company’s software to help them augment power from the traditional electrical grid. By monitoring conditions, energy managers can tap into available sources and plan for shortages before they happen.

Photo: a graphical representation of solar power generation (green) and availability (red) in California and Arizona, with cloud cover.


Nextek Power Systems’ Direct Current equipment and systems are part of this movement towards energy independence, and use a similar approach. Our building and microgrid solutions, which are based on solar power generation, automatically manage available power sources, drawing from solar panels, then battery storage, before they tap into the AC grid, to keep energy expenses as low as possible for customers. This is the future of electric power.




Michigan State University Goes All in for Microgrid Technology

Michigan State University recently released its Energy Transition Plan, which calls for the implementation of microgrid technology to achieve a future where the university is powered completely by renewable energy. Currently, renewable energy accounts for less than 2 percent of power generation at MSU. In addition, the university’s T.B. Simon Power Plant has been named by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as Michigan’s 25th biggest polluter, so the move to renewable energy should make a significant impact on the campus environment and energy costs.

The MSU plan includes improving the physical environment of the campus, using the campus as a laboratory for developing new technologies, and applying the knowledge gained towards improving the quality of life for local, regional and national communities.

Nextek Power Systems, Inc. applauds the Michigan State University initiative. Nextek is an industry leader in the design and implementation of Direct Current microgrids for buildings and campuses. Microgrids offer a variety of advantages to many facilities, especially those that need to run independently of the AC grid, in case of a supply failure, or a terrorist attack. Many government offices and military installations are already at work planning for such systems.