How Could Distributed Energy Resources Disrupt Utilities?
“Will big utilities face a compromised future from distributed energy resources?”
Ever since the dawn of the grid utility companies have reigned supreme. But with the advent of distributed energy resources, this all might change. Now that many individuals are achieving grid defection, they no longer have any use for a utility. If the cost of battery storage collapses and energy efficiency has a paradigm shift, this could spell massive disruption for these traditional companies. They might even have to watch out for their survival.
Platform Thinking in Energy
“What is the next paradigm shift in consumer utilities?”
The world of consumer utilities is changing very rapidly. The days of centralized, controlled distribution are dying to make way for the new peer-to-peer sharing networks. Consumer utilities are starting to take note, and a new type of business governed by platform thinking is starting to take hold. Platform thinking is where businesses start thinking about making platforms instead of products. Take twitter for example. Twitter does not make any actual content but instead allows others to make it for no charge. The same type of thinking can be applied to energy, instead of focusing on making the actual electricity, utilities can instead focus on helping consumers distribute it to each other.
Machine Learning in Electric Load Forecasting
“How can we apply Machine Learning to estimate electric loads?”
Electric Load Forecasting if vital for making informed decisions about how to use energy throughout the day. And thanks to modern computational technology, we will be able to do such work by applying Machine Learning in Electric Load Forecasting. A computer algorithm can learn the past behavior of electric loads, and then make models to predict future behavior. Electric utility companies are investing large amounts of resources into developing these systems to increase their infrastructure.
“How can we make an application based framework for sensing and control?”
The modern world of engineering is evolving more and more towards the internet of things. However, most appliances nowadays use proprietary means to connect with each other. This makes building a truly open internet of things nearly impossible! However, the good people for the U.S Department of Energy want to fix this, specifically in the area of energy utilization with the use of a little technology known as VOLTTRON. VOLTTRON is an application framework that software developers can use to import and manage data and actions collected by devices. This allows for greater control over their efficiency and can support real-time agent-based communications. VOLTTRON is language agnostic, meaning that it can be written in any desired programming language, making it easier for developers to get their hands on it. VOLTTRON has a wide range of appliances, from utility research to building automation systems and even to vehicle-grid integration!
Nonintrusive Load Monitoring
“How can we determine the appliances in a building just from its energy consumption?”
As Engineers, it would be very useful to analyze the types of appliances within a building. However, doing so requires a heavy upfront investment in a large multitude of sensors.
Or does it?
After many years of research, Engineers and Scientists have developed a method known as Nonintrusive Load Monitoring, which takes in data from a building’s energy uses, parses out all of the patterns, and recognizes which appliances are in the unit. Although novel and affordable, one serious drawback with this technology is privacy concerns, since large organizations will be able to snoop in on the appliances that an individual possesses.