Capacity first?

…then Reliability, then Efficiency?

Developing an electrical network is a question of priorities. As is developing anything I guess… Which priorities do you think are most important?

You probably agree that the first step in building an electrical system is bringing access to electricity to most of the population, right?

Capacity to efficiency

This might seem solved, but in reality, access to electricity is still far from being universal. Still 1,2 billion people don’t have access to electricity. It’s in fact part of sustainable development goal 7, and, actually, the road to SDG7 is the road to Energythaca.

While building additional lines and power generation units to solve access to electricity, the values of reliability and efficiency are normally not on the top of mind for system planning. What if access to electricity is provided by renewable microgrids, would values like reliability and energy efficiency be achieved at the same time? Sigue leyendo

The last oil price peak?

This is my own prediction; the future of oil price will reach again a peak price* around 2020, but after that it will never again.

Why will that happen?


Image from Dominik Gwarek on freeimages


The following trends will shape the transition away from the oil-dependant economy and the effects will have to be fully present short after 2020 (as I posted before, we are crossing the chasm):

  1. The global climate policy. Following the Paris agreement, it is not an option not to change, reduce emisions and therefore cut down oil consumption. In order to avoid worse effects of climate change the change is needed, very soon. A good sign is we have already seen 2 consecutive years of decoupling, economic growth without increase in emmissions (and that has happened without bold international action). The suggested carbon tax would be the strongest of levers.
  2. The renewable dominance of electric power. The transition is already visible. No other power source can be installed as fast and with similar scalability, prices also start to make it almost a no-brainer (an example?: the latest PPA in Morocco for wind). And in fact no other power source is being installed as much, so we will have superavits of renewable.
  3. The electrification of transport. Maybe one of the most necessary steps in the transition and that is taking already too long to trigger. An indispensable step to decarbonize the economy, that should be mandatory. However, it will only take place when the simple economy for the majority makes it a no-brainer. This is, when electric mobility (or other alternatives) is clearly less expensive than owning an internal combustion vehicle for the average person. There was a recent article in Bloomberg on the subject.

Not only do I predict it, but I also have bet on the next peak by investing in an oil price ETF (I bought at 10,69$, so it wasn’t the lowest, it has been even -20%). Still, with the new peak it should be at least possible to triple the investment. I promise to write on the result of this (hopefully good) bet in the blog!

(*In constant currency, it is understood.)

Publication: Superconducting Fault Current Limiter

Recently we got published an article on short circuit current limiting on Elevier’s Electric Power Systems Research, were I’m a co-author;

Cover image Electric Power Systems Research

“Performance analysis of a Superconducting Fault Current Limiter in a power distribution substation”, Volume 136, July 2016, Pages 89–99

Antonio Colmenar-Santos, , J.M. Pecharromán-Lázaro, Carlos de Palacio Rodríguez, Eduardo Collado-Fernández

The results of the research and pilot project for this technology are promising. The short circuit current limiting with a superconducting system (SFCL-Superconducting Fault Current Limiter) is an example of FACTS (Flexible AC Transmission System) for the Smart Grid. It allows a real-time response, that is an automatic reaction, reducing short circuit currents, thus avoiding damage to equipment. This enables a more meshed operation while the energy losses are kept low.

The paper presents the operational benefits and performance of an installed system in a distribution network. These benefits are translated into economic terms, with the goal of setting a target price for economic feasibility of such systems. While the difference between the economic target of 100 k€ and the cost of the real project is tenfold, it remains a trigger for market adoption. Moreover, it is likely that economies of scale and technology improvements drive the implementation cost down in the coming years.

The consequence of widespread use of SFCL would be more reliable and resilient distribution networks. We will see more of this coming, in the near future.

The complete article is available for some days on the link:

The “magic” of Autonomous Electric Vehicles

Autonomous Electric Vehicles (AEV) not only will change the way we drive, (actually the way we won’t drive)

There is a more interesting consequence related to Asset Utilization and Efficiency you should consider.

The key to unlocking so much efficiency potential from such a vehicle is the time when the owner is not been driven by the car. When the car is working for it’s owner, that’s where the “magic” happens…


Image by D. Warrington on freeimages

During these otherwise idle times, the AEV can be in use (increasing the utilization of the asset) and enhancing the efficiency for a) it’s ownership, b) the electric and energy system and c) the logistic systems.

How is that? Sigue leyendo

Wisdom and Action, thoughts as a Doctor

“Being intelligent is a result of good luck at birth, being wise is a result of constant effort during life” *

I have the impression that I have been learning, preparing myself all my life. But the more I learn the more I think I know nothing…


…”You know nothing John Snow”

Image by Viktors Kozers on


Besides, I also feel still I haven’t delivered enough in return. I wonder; have I been gathering knowledge and experience but not wisdom to return?  This is what worries me after obtaining my PhD and looking onto year 2016.

Wisdom requires Sigue leyendo

Bono social y pobreza energética

El pasado domingo 13 de diciembre el programa Salvados #encasadeElisa estuvo dedicado a la pobreza energética.

Por qué es este tema relevante?

Es un problema que ha crecido un 69% en España en los últimos 4 años según el INE, aunque el Ministro de Industria no estaba enterado. Para Jose Manuel Soria, además parece que la única manera de combatirla, junto con reducir el paro, es el bono social. Como escribió Fernando Ferrando sobre el mismo tema, quien no puede pagar, aunque le hagan un 25% de descuento, sigue sin poder. Además, aunque el consumo energético eléctrico es mucho menor que el consumo de gasolina y representa una parte pequeña del consumo familiar (como planteaba en mi post sobre electrificar el transporte) no es el caso de las personas en situación de pobreza energética. Para ellos, obviamente supone una parte mucho más importante, compitiendo con la comida por el dinero disponible.


Calefactor eléctrico. Imagen de Gabriel Fernandes en


A pesar de reconocer que el bono social está mal planteado, el (hasta dentro de poco) ministro de industria no mostró ninguna intención de mejorarlo. En el mismo programa, al menos el ex-ministro Sebastián planteó la opción de que un consumo mínimo debería ser gratuito, puesto que la energía es un bien de primera necesidad.

Cómo se podría modificar el bono social y la tarifa eléctrica?

Sigue leyendo

Asset utilization Vs Energy transition

Collaborative economy, also called the sharing economy, is growing, and it can be understood as a synonym for resource efficiency and increased asset utilization. It also allows the energy transition. How? An example; car sharing, offers increased asset utilization of the vehicles and fosters the energy transition with more sustainable mobility.

In the energy sector, and in the case of utilities, this is not very common, but let’s try to look at some trends;

For example, grid interconnections, as proposed with the EU Energy Union policy, is part of a more collaborative economy. It means the sharing of power capacity and available renewable resources in an extended market. Of course it is not peer-to-peer, but instead “grid-to-grid”. Interconnections improve asset utilization (of the most competitive assets at least, as well as avoiding investments in peaking capacity) and also help toward the energy transition as abundant renewable power can be exchanged between countries.

Image by Gabriel Schouten de Jel

Image by Gabriel Schouten de Jel on

For Spain, with high generation overcapacity, to increase interconnections is key to making use of existing power capacity and avoiding wind spilling, for example.

However, there is another example of improved asset utilization where there is a conflict with the energy transition…

Sigue leyendo