Technocratic paradigm and Smart Cities

If you are interested in Smart City technologies and experiences, I strongly recommend the following report from Nesta:

Rethinking Smart Cities From The Ground Up

The proposal is similar to how I suggest to build the Smart Grid: Do it bottom-up, empowering the consumer/citizen. In this case, the report justifies that the highest return is on collaborative technologies that allow the citizens to participate and shape the future of their cities.

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Citizens. Image by Murat Cokal on freeimages.com

As is widely mentioned, there is no smart city without smart citizens. Just like there is no smart grid without a smart consumer. Thus, investing in smart people is absolutely necessary for Sigue leyendo

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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 freeimages.com

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…

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Google energy storage

I’m surprised Google Energy has still not got it…

How did they create the most competitive data centres in the world to grow so fast? How could they build the most competitive energy storage centres in the world?*

If you know the answer to the first one, you probably know what I mean in the case of energy storage.

By Steve Jurvetson (http://flickr.com/photos/jurvetson/157722937/) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Google Production server. By Steve Jurvetson (http://flickr.com/photos/jurvetson/157722937/) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

The key was and is to use inexpensive harware. With servers, rapid obsolescence meant they wouldn’t need to repair the PCs used for their servers, many of the servers wouldn’t ever work, and the design had to be optimized to work around these failures. Of course now they are interested in the most energy efficient server systems, as that is the main cost for operating data centres, but the cheap and fast concept remains.

In the case of battery storage, Sigue leyendo

II Congreso Genedis – Madrid y la colectivización de consumo

Organiza: Fenercom Madrid (link a las ponencias incluida la mía)

Lugar y fecha: Madrid, 17 y 18 de Abril

En mi opinión resultó un evento muy completo, con representantes de utilities, centros de investigación, fabricantes, promotores, escos, estudios de arquitectura, etc. Y como no podía ser de otra manera hubo discusiones sobre balance neto y autoconsumo (por ejemplo una persona de Iberdrola criticaba el peligro del autoconsumo para la seguridad de los operarios, sin poder explicar qué protecciones le “faltan” al RD1699 para garantizarla). Pero hubo mucho más, por ejemplo sobre geotermia y la impresionante competitividad de la biomasa para comunidades de vecinos, industrias y edificios en general. Otro tema, muy relacionado con mi ponencia, que dijeron cada vez se plantean más estudios de arquitectura y promotoras es el diseño de nuevas promociones directamente off-grid, como el caso que se publicó hace poco, de Gehrlicher, indepentes de la red eléctrica (como planteaba en un post antiguo)

La crisis agudiza el ingenio y la innovación, con lo que también se presentaban innovaciones españolas como el concepto CLU de polígono inteligente, el generador bi-energy o conceptos novedosos de aerogenerador de eje vertical.Joined Hands

Un tema que quiero compartir, especialmente, es la discusión que hubo sobre la legalidad de la colectivización del consumo eléctrico (compra colectiva de electricidad para conseguir mejor precio). La ley actual no permite a una comunidad de vecinos o polígono industrial comprar colectivamente la electricidad y repartir con sub-metering, salvo que quien la comercialice sea comercializadora de electricidad. La excepción a la reventa de electricidad por no-comercializadoras es la autorización a gestores de carga de vehículos eléctricos, pero exclusivamente para este fin. Realmente basta con que comercializadoras actúen como escos (o viceversa), ofreciendo servicios de gestión de microrred, o que la esco o gestor energético no revenda electricidad sino venda el servicio de gestión en horas efectivas o con otro tipo de tarifas no eléctricas. Al final no tiene tanta miga y es perfectamente realizable, las microrredes y los gestores energéticos son figuras que debemos empezar a ver cada vez más, será una muestra de que el mercado (al menos una parte) eléctrico está avanzando hacia un mercado competitivo e innovador tan necesario.

Democratization of power generation – The ongoing innovation

There is quite some discussion on the subject of energy independence and energy democracy recently (for example, this article, or the lateral power concept from Rifkin’s TIR or the initiative from Energy Democracy TV). I’d like to post my “vote” for energy democracy and explain why it is an inevitable transition and an ongoing innovation, from dependent to empowered (literally) prosumers.

Increased energy independence of a country normally refers to a reduction of oil imports, mainly benefitial to trade balance, but it is not so straight-forward how an individual benefits of this country’s independence. If, for example, the change reduces his gas or electricity bill, he will be, but if the energy he purchases is still from the same utility at the same price, is he any more independent?

Another way of understanding energy independence concept is the “off-grid-ing”, islanding both from the network and utilities, through renewables plus storage and/or electric vehicle, for example. I’m relatively against this as it is opposed to the networked economy, where interdependence and cooperation benefits all stakeholders. It also is economically inefficient as there has to be additional generation&storage dimensioned for off-grid availability. The same self-sufficient user interconnected, even in peer-to-peer networks or communities, needs less investment, can have additional income from selling power, and has more security of supply from other generators.

This brings us back to the point of energy democracy, on who generates power and who has access to it? There lies the innovation on energy democratization. On the following video from innovation and market we can have a look at innovation process:

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ICREPQ 2012

Organized by: EA4EPQ

Venue and Date: Santiago de Compostela, 28-30 March 2012

Summary:

Presentation of stabilization, integration and contingency solutions for maximizing RE penetration.

Innovative technologies presented include: Flywheel products, storage solutions, SVCs, HVAC wind solutions, polytransformers, flexiformers, mobile transformers.

Full plenary session (PL1) paper available in www.icrepq.com