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Tweeting to Smarter Energy

Social media continue to infiltrate every aspect of daily life. Utilities are the latest industry hoping to use the power of the tweet to change consumer consumption of energy.
In the same way telephone companies shepherded users to embrace off-peak phone hours by offering weekend and night rate discounts, utilities have a vested interest in changing the public’s power use behavior.

Using communication platforms isn’t just a marketing ploy to bring attention to smart energy. The real-time information provided by smart meters will alert utilities of an impending blackout during heat waves. The utilities, in turn, can tweet or IM customers to turn down the power to prevent the outage.

Axion Power develops revolutionary battery

Axion Power International (AXPM), based in New Castle, Pennsylvania, has developed and patented a battery storage system called PbC® that promises to be an important piece of the future smart grid.  The device has already won a Frost & Sullivan Technology Award for North America.

The new battery offers major performance advantages over conventional lead-acid batteries that have “the potential to revitalize the lead-acid battery industry by breathing new life into an established technology that is not well suited to the requirements of important new applications like hybrid electric vehicles and renewable power,” according to Frost & Sullivan.

Smart Meters only tip of Smart Energy Iceberg

Pike Research has determined that $200 Billion will be invested in smart grid infrastructure and related green technologies by 2015. Clint Wheelock, the consulting firm’s managing director, believes smart meters are only a fraction of the total smart grid investment tsunami.

“Smart meters are currently the highest-profile component of the Smart Grid, but they are really just the tip of the iceberg,” he says. “Our analysis shows that utilities will find the best return on investment, and therefore will devote the majority of their capital budgets, to grid infrastructure projects including transmission upgrades, substation automation, and distribution automation.”

Naperville Getting Smart for 2010

Naperville, Illinois, a half hour west of Chicago, plans to deploy 57,000 smart meters over the next three years. The project is being done on a volunteer basis. In October Naperville, which runs its own utility, was the only plans to install 57,000 smart meters over the next three years in the homes of customers who volunteer.

In October, the city was the only Illinois city granted a smart-grid grant from the United States Department of Energy. In early December the Naperville City Council voted to match the DOE’s $11 grant through bond sales. City officials estimate that once consumers use the information provided by the smart to better regulate their power usage they could potentially save up to 15 percent of their current bill.

Software from Washington startup automates efficient energy use

Distributed Energy Management (DEM), a new company based in Bremerton, Washington has developed software that helps consumers and providers use energy more efficiently.  DEM was founded by brothers Jason and Peter Crabtree and Jimmy Jia less than a year ago.

DEM has developed two versions of smart grid-supporting software aimed at helping commercial customers use electricity more efficiently while helping utilities manage the system better at the same time.  Software from the company is already managing building systems in downtown Bremerton and at the South Kitsap Medical Center in Port Orchard.

Smart grid tech saves money for New York utility

Smart grid technology was able to save the Massena Electric Department (MED) up to $20,000.  MED was established in 1981 as a non-profit electric utility for the town located in upstate New York near the Canadian border.

MED is using smart grid technology that lessens demand spikes during peak hours, typically between 5pm and 8pm.  The integrated software, called a Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition system, is used by MED officials to monitor and manage energy usage within the Massena community.  Usage was trimmed by 2 megawatts in October because MED was able to take several temporary power-saving steps using smart grid technology.

Smart meter installations set to begin outside Chicago

Naperville, a city on the outskirts of Chicago, plans to begin installing 57,000 smart meters in 2010.  The city-owned utility will install devices that monitor energy use, reduce power outages, and streamline operations while shrinking the city’s carbon footprint.

Naperville was the only Illinois municipality that received a stimulus grant from the U.S. Department of Energy.  The Naperville City Council agreed to match the grant, as required by federal guidelines, by selling bonds.

Siemens pitches smart grid services in Philippines

Manila Electric Co. (Meralco), the largest power distributor in the Philippines, is seeking ways to improve operational performance.  Siemens believes its smart grid solutions are just what Meralco needs.

Siemens has previous experience working with Meralco.  In July, the tech giant finished upgrading the power distributor’s Santa Rosa substation in Laguna.  The substation is the delivery point for the four provinces at the southern end of the island of Luzon.

SAP at the forefront of CO2 reduction

Armed with new science and technology companies are innovating new ways to address the needs of their individual and business customers.  Looming large on the world stage is climate change and at the recent Copenhagen summit each participating country considered changes that needed to come about to reduce the effects of global warming.

Among the tech giants supplying solutions that address climate change is SAP.  Recently the company announced its participation in the Smart City Project – what will eventually become a large network of low-carbon communities all around the world.  Other companies participating in Smart City include Sharp, Nikken Sekkei Ltd, Hewlett-Packard Japan, Mitsui Fudosan, e-Solutions Inc., and the Future Design Center Incorporated Association (FDC) in Japan.

Management Solutions Evolving

Research indicates that smart meters worth $19.5 billion will be installed between 2010 and 2015. To fulfill their green potential, the information gleaned from the meters has to be parsed in a way that allows individuals and consumers use it effectively. To that end Knowledge Global has introduced a management solution called EMMA which is a subscribed knowledge base that enables consumers to better facilitate power management. EMMA was tested at an Australian University and has not yet been widely deployed.

Chris Thorman of softwareadvice.com calls EMMA “an automated environmental monitoring system for property owners and managers who want to measure, track and forecast exactly how much energy a building is using or losing, while simultaneously educating their tenants about their carbon output.”