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FPL, University to Build Distributed Solar Power Research Facility

Florida Power & Light Co. (FPL) and Florida International University (FIU) recently announced a new partnership to build a commercial-scale distributed solar power facility that will generate electricity for FPL's 4.8 million customers and serve as an innovative research operation.

The project involves the installation of more than 5,700 solar panels on 23 canopy-like structures that will be built this summer in the parking lot of the university's engineering center, just north of FIU's Modesto A. Maidique Campus.

"This innovative solar project builds on FIU's relationship with FPL, one that provides our students with unparalleled and unique training opportunities," said FIU President Mark B. Rosenberg. "Through this project, our engineering students will make a direct contribution to the growth of solar energy in our state, while gaining invaluable experience working side by side with professionals from one of the most forward-thinking utilities in the nation."

Using data from the 1.6-MW solar array, faculty and students from FIU's College of Engineering and Computing will study the effects of distributed solar photovoltaic (PV) generation on the electric grid in real-life South Florida conditions.

FLP President and CEO Eric Silagy said FPL is a leader in advancing solar energy and makes sure to keep costs low and reliability high.

"As the economics of solar continue to improve, we look forward to harnessing more and more energy from the sun," Silagy said. "Our partnership with FIU is designed to help us manage solar power's interaction with the greater electric grid as part of our commitment to reliably deliver affordable clean energy for all of our customers."

The project will benefit both partners in different ways.

When the sun is shining, the approximately 342,000-square-foot solar array will provide electricity for FPL customers via the electric grid. In a year, the installation is expected to produce the equivalent of the amount of energy used by some 34,000 laptop computers. The canopy structures also will create about 600 shaded parking spaces.

FIU students already have begun gathering information to be used in their research, including historical weather data and energy production and usage patterns. The research will take Florida's unique weather conditions into consideration and help determine the types of technology that might be needed to ensure the grid's reliability is not affected negatively by fluctuations in solar PV production as a result of clouds, thunderstorms and other variables.

"FPL is fortunate to have such a respected research institution with which to partner right in our backyard," said Bryan J. Olnick, vice president of power delivery distribution and operations for FPL and a member of FIU's Advisory Council for the College of Engineering and Computing. "The in-depth analysis of data from the solar panels will help us continue to advance affordable clean energy for all of our customers."

FPL, the largest generator of solar energy in Florida, operates three solar power plants in the state. The company recently announced plans to cost-effectively triple its solar generation in Florida by the end of 2016.

Hundreds of FPL employees are graduates of FIU, and many remain active with the school through boards and alumni groups. Also, in 2010, FPL established an on-campus customer care training center where FIU students learn from FPL's nationally recognized customer service organization, answering actual calls from FPL customers. The initiative helps FPL continue to attract local employees and provides career training for FIU students. In 2014, FPL donated an electric vehicle from its clean fleet to FIU's College of Engineering and Computing to further their research and testing of wireless charging technology. And since 2012, 39 students have participated in FPL's internship program and many have gone on to join the company as full-time employees.


Duke Energy, LG Chem, Greensmith to Build Fast-response Energy Storage System in Ohio

Duke Energy, LG Chem and Greensmith will team up to build a battery-based energy storage system in Ohio designed to enhance reliability and increase stability on the electric power grid, the companies announced.

Duke Energy, the nation's largest electric utility, owns nearly 15 percent of the grid-connected, battery-based energy storage capacity in the U.S., according to independent research firm IHS Energy.

The new 2-MW storage project will assist in regulating electric grid frequency for PJM, the transmission organization that powers much of the eastern U.S.

The system will be built at Duke Energy's retired W.C. Beckjord coal-fired power plant in New Richmond, Ohio, and is expected to be operational by late 2015.

It continues Duke Energy's exploration of energy storage solutions and their potential for broad adoption.

"Fast-responding energy storage is recognized for the tremendous benefits it provides to grid operations because it can instantaneously absorb excess energy from the grid or release energy," said Phil Grigsby, vice president of commercial transmission at Duke Energy. "Delivering that power in seconds, as opposed to a power plant that could take 10 minutes or more to ramp up, is the unique value the battery system provides to grid operators.

"This accurate and rapid response will help improve the overall reliability and economic efficiency of the grid. It also demonstrates the capabilities of new technologies and the potential for future applications, such as large-scale integration of renewable energy onto the grid."

The Ohio project adds to Duke Energy's installed base of commercially operating energy storage systems. With the addition of the project, the company will operate a total of 4 MW of energy storage at Beckjord, where a separate 2-MW storage system already exists.

Duke Energy also operates one of the nation's largest battery-based energy storage and power management systems-a 36-MW unit completed in 2012 in partnership with the Department of Energy-at the utility's Notrees Windpower Project in Texas.

LG Chem will deliver the Ohio project's integrated operating system, composed of advanced lithium-ion batteries. Greensmith will provide intelligent energy storage control and analytics software and system integration services.

Parker Hannifin will provide a 2-MW power conversion inverter.


Kansas City Passes Energy Benchmarking, Transparency Bill

The City Council of Kansas City, Missouri, on June 4 passed a building energy benchmarking and transparency ordinance that would require large municipal, multifamily and commercial buildings to measure and disclose their energy use.

Kansas City is the 14th city to enact such a policy, said Kevin J. Cosgriff, president and CEO of the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA).

Such policies make it possible to compare the energy performance of different buildings-similar to the miles-per-gallon ratings of cars-allowing prospective buyers and renters to understand the full cost of operating the buildings in which they work, live, learn and play. Understanding how buildings use energy also can help building owners address energy inefficiencies in their facilities, reducing energy waste and creating local jobs in the process.

"In passing this ordinance, Kansas City demonstrates a commitment to sustainability," Cosgriff said. "By focusing on policies that simultaneously promote efficient energy use and create high-quality local manufacturing, construction, design, engineering and energy management jobs, Kansas City is setting an example that other cities should follow."

NEMA has actively supported benchmarking and disclosure policies across the country and is working to ensure that building owners and renters have the information they need to make informed decisions about how they use energy.

NEMA represents nearly 400 electrical, medical imaging and radiation therapy manufacturers, accounting for more than 400,000 U.S. jobs and more than 7,000 facilities across the U.S. Domestic production exceeds $117 billion per year.


EYE ON the world

Ireland's ESB Networks deploys Intergraph GIS for electricity distribution system

ESB Networks Ltd., the licensed operator of the electricity distribution system in Ireland, has implemented a geographic information system (GIS) built upon Intergraph G/Technology to support the planning, design, construction and day-to-day operations of Ireland's electricity distribution network.

The GIS serves as a single enterprise solution for the full life cycle management of ESB Networks' network assets, improving work flow efficiencies and integrating seamlessly with other business-critical systems. The new system went live in June after a three-year delivery project.

"The delivery of our new GIS system has been a huge team effort from all the parties involved and provides a highly integrated, modern solution which will serve the expanding and challenging requirements of the ESB Networks' business over the coming years," said John Gallagher, IT delivery manager at ESB Networks. "We can now face the challenges of the future safe in the knowledge that we have a state-of-the-art and future-proofed solution in place."

An Intergraph customer for 20 years, ESB Networks had previously developed a highly bespoke Intergraph FRAMME-based solution to meet the specific work flows the utility's business users required. ESB Networks determined it would upgrade to a new G/Technology-based system and contracted Intergraph and its partners, Irish Mapping & GIS Solution Ltd. (IMGS) and Rolta U.K. Ltd., in 2012 to deliver the project after a competitive procurement process.

The solution features Intergraph's G!NIUS electricity data model with customizations to meet the advanced business work flows ESB had configured in FRAMME. Taking advantage of the latest in Web services technologies, including Intergraph's SAP integration module, the project featured much integration, integrating fully with SAP asset, work and customer management systems; Oracle outage management system; and Synergee network modeling system.

The new GIS solution enables ESB Networks to manage the network in three views simultaneously-geographic, geoschematic and orthoschematic-through a single system.


Siemens wins HVDC order to connect British-Belgian power grid

Nemo Link, a joint venture between the British grid operator National Grid and Belgian transmission system operator Elia Group, recently awarded Siemens an order for a high-voltage direct current (HVDC) transmission system to connect the British and Belgian national grids via subsea cable.

Siemens will be responsible for the turnkey installation of both converter stations using HVDC Plus technology with a transmission voltage of ±400 kV DC. After its completion, Nemo Link will provide 1,000 MW of capacity-enough to power 500,000 households. The link will run 140 kilometers between Richborough on the Kent coast and Zeebrugge near the city of Brugge with a combination of subsea and underground cables. Commercial operation of the link is scheduled for 2019. The contract also includes a five-year service and maintenance agreement.

Nemo Link has been designated one of the European Commission's projects of common interest to help create an integrated EU energy market. It will increase energy security in both countries and support the integration of renewable energy such as offshore-generated wind power.

Using subsea cables, Nemo Link will connect two high-voltage alternating current (HVAC) electricity systems separated by the North Sea. The use of HVDC avoids the need to synchronize the two interconnected AC networks. Both converter stations will use HVDC Plus voltage-sourced converters in a modular multilevel converter arrangement (VSC-MMC) that converts AC to DC and DC back to AC on the other side of the link. In contrast to line-commutated converter technology, the HVDC Plus system works with power transistors that also can be switched off (IGBT), enabling the commutation processes in the power converter to run independently of the grid voltage. The very fast control and protective intervention capabilities of the power converters provides high stability in the transmission system, which primarily serves to reduce grid faults and disturbances in the three-phase AC network. This significantly increases supply reliability for utilities and power customers.

Siemens HVDC Plus technology allows efficient transportation of electrical power over large distances, and in particular, for subsea applications with losses of around 2 percent, excluding cable losses. It is also highly controllable and brings operational benefits to both transmission systems. The Nemo Link interconnector will allow power to flow in both directions and will be the third electricity connection between the U.K. and Europe. The 1,000-MW interconnector BritNed between the U.K. and the Netherlands also was developed by Siemens and went into operation in 2011.

Interconnectors play a crucial role in the EU's strategy to achieve a competitive and integrated European energy market. By allowing the U.K. and Belgium to trade power, the Nemo Link interconnector will increase security and diversify both countries' electricity supply. To meet international and domestic renewable and climate change targets, the U.K. and Belgium will generate more power from renewable sources, including offshore wind. Wind power generation is intermittent, and interconnectors provide an effective way to manage these fluctuations in supply and demand.


Deal between Qatar, Sweden provide Gulf States new Swedish environmental technology

New environmental technology from four Swedish companies will be displayed in a special full-scale facility in Doha, Qatar's capital. The deal is the outcome of an agreement between Midroc New Technology and the Gulf Organisation for Research and Development (GORD) for the six Gulf States of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC): Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Oman, Kuwait and Bahrain.

Midroc New Technology, a member of the Midroc Europe Group, is a venture capital company that invests in groundbreaking technologies with global relevance in the environmental and renewable energy fields. GORD is a nonprofit governmental organization that promotes environmentally friendly and sustainable solutions in Qatar and the countries included in the GCC.

"With resources from Qatar and technology from Midroc's portfolio companies, we will be able to showcase new solutions that are sustainable in the long term for our planet and that are possible already today," said Göran Linder, CEO of Midroc New Technology. The full-scale demonstration facility will be placed in Qatar Science & Technology Park and will contain functions from living quarters and workplaces to greenhouses. The idea is that one will be able to see all these technologies in one place from late summer 2015 onward.

The GORD is responsible for developing sustainable solutions for the whole of the GCC. This means the innovations that will be presented could become the standard for member states. To accelerate the introduction of technologies for world improvement, four of Midroc's portfolio companies achieve a unique position:

• PowerCell has developed fuel cell technology that converts diesel and hydrogen into electricity highly efficiently. This allows energy consumption to be reduced by 50 percent while completely eliminating exhaust gases and toxic emissions.

• Heliospectra offers intelligent lighting systems for greenhouse cultivation that also can be used in extreme environments. Compared with conventional solutions, less energy and water is consumed, there is no waste, crop yield is increased and crops taste better.

• Air to Air has technology for heat and moisture exchange, giving the best possible control of indoor climate with the least possible energy consumption.

• Solarwave offers solutions driven by solar energy for water purification and desalination, making it possible to use water that otherwise would be undrinkable. Its compact plants can be as small as a backpack or big enough to supply thousands of liters per hour.


Northern Ireland Electricity awards 2 contracts to SPIE for national T&D renovations

Northern Ireland Electricity (NIE), Northern Ireland's national electricity distribution company, recently awarded two framework contracts to SPIE.

The independent European leader in multitechnical services will assist NIE in the refurbishment of the country's electricity transmission and distribution networks.

The transmission contract, the first of the two long-term assignments, involves renovation and new-build work on Northern Ireland's high-voltage network up to and including 275 kV and is expected to finish in early 2019.

The distribution framework contract requires SPIE to restore and replace the distribution wood pole network up to and including 33 kV. The work will occur between now and February 2018 with the potential for a two-year extension.

NIE is responsible for the electricity infrastructure throughout Northern Ireland. It owns and maintains the wires and utility meters for the entire country. Its 1,200 employees work around the clock to plan, build, repair and develop Northern Ireland's electricity network. SPIE initially will supply 40 linemen to work across both projects and increase the number to 70 to complete the current work.


Innovari opens new tech center in India

Interactive energy platform developer Innovari recently partnered with TEKsystems Global Services, the IT services division of TEKsystems, to open a technology center in Bangalore, India, in June.

Innovari's new India Technology Center (ITC) establishes a center of excellence in India to enable development and rapid delivery of its technology across the country and to support the company's global expansion. Innovari has an expanding role in optimizing India's power grid with its Interactive Energy Platform, having signed deals with several utilities throughout the country. The ITC opened in June with a dozen employees and will scale to support global operations and customer service functions through a partnership with TEKsystems.

Innovari's global expansion also includes a new office in Colombia.


Deloitte: Attitudes shifting on energy consumption

The fifth annual "Deloitte reSources Study" reveals emerging practices and attitudes consumers and businesses have toward energy consumption.

The business findings of the 2015 study suggest a critical perceptual shift is underway. Energy management has evolved from a cost-cutting necessity to a strategic commitment.

A tipping point has been passed: Thoughtful, deliberate energy consumption has permeated the business psyche, and companies consider energy management an essential aspect of corporate strategy. This shift is occurring despite relatively low electricity prices and moderate expectations of increases. Energy management is becoming a core business discipline for companies of all sizes-not just enterprises.

Nevertheless, consumers generally held steady in their attitudes and behaviors but showed little desire to revert back to their previous electricity consumption patterns, even as the economy has improved.

Business Highlights

    •Seventy-nine percent of businesses said reducing electricity costs is essential to creating and maintaining competitive advantage, and 57 percent said they have formal energy reduction goals-up from 46 percent in 2014.

    •Businesses are allocating a greater percentage of their capital budgets to energy management, with 93 percent investing in energy management programs during the past three years. These funds represent some 18 percent of their total capital budgets compared with 12 percent in 2014.

    •In the Goal Setting category, businesses increased their energy or resource reduction targets in all areas except carbon footprint. Companies are aiming to reduce their electricity consumption 25 percent on average-up from 22 percent in 2014. Businesses also are giving themselves more time to achieve their reduction goals: 4.5 years on average compared with 4.2 years in 2014.

    •Companies generally feel good about their accomplishments; 52 percent characterized their energy management efforts as extremely/very successful compared with 42 percent in 2014.

    •Companies are not afraid to try something new or to roll up their sleeves as commitment to energy management gets progressively stronger. Thirty-nine percent of businesses said new/innovative solutions are actively encouraged, experimented with and deployed-up from 30 percent in 2014.

From Cost-cutting Necessity to Strategic Commitment

    •Fifty-nine percent of respondents cited the desire to cut costs as a primary driver for their resource management programs-down from 67 percent in 2014.

    •Seventy-seven percent of respondents said reducing electricity costs is essential to staying competitive from a financial perspective compared with 81 percent in 2014.

    •Seventy-nine percent of businesses in this year's study said reducing electricity costs is essential to staying competitive from an image perspective-up from 74 percent in 2014. This is also the highest proportion since the study was first conducted in 2011.

    •Twenty-six percent of companies use external market intelligence to gain a more comprehensive perspective of their exposures to energy risk-up from 21 percent in 2014.

Energy Supply: A Move Toward Self-reliance

    •On-site production has skyrocketed. Fifty-five percent of businesses said they generate some portion of their electricity supply on-site-up from 44 percent in 2014 and 33 percent in 2013.

    •The technology, media and telecommunications (TMT) companies (67 percent) and health care organizations (65 percent) lead in on-site generation.

Capitalizing on Big Data: Better Data, Advanced Analytical Tools

    •Although 63 percent of companies said they still use spreadsheets for at least some of their tracking needs, they increasingly are using advanced analytical tools or focusing on quality or visibility of energy data across their organizations.

    •Twenty-eight percent of business respondents said high-quality energy data and data management exist across their companies compared with 22 percent in 2014.

    •Twenty-seven percent said advanced analytical tools are deployed across their companies-up from 20 percent in 2014.

Consumer Highlights

Despite lower gasoline prices, improved economic conditions and the abundance of U.S. energy resources, consumers' views on energy management and commitment to reducing consumption have become entrenched:

    •Eighty percent of consumers said their families took steps to reduce their electric bills during the past year-holding steady from 83 percent in 2014 and 81 percent in 2013.

    •Sixty-five percent plan to use about the same amount of electricity in 2015 as they did in 2014, and 25 percent said they will use less. Only about 10 percent of consumers expect their households to use more electricity during the next year.

    •Although consumers continue to reduce household electricity consumption, 64 percent agreed with the statement, "Our family is already doing everything we can to keep our electric bill down so there isn't really anything incremental we can do to cut costs further." This implies that 36 percent think they could do more-up from a low of 23 percent in 2012.

Social Media: A Resource for Energy-Saving Tips

    •More consumers said they have received "several good tips" on saving energy-up from 24 percent in 2014 to 31 percent in 2015, and 67 percent said they got some tips directly from their electricity providers.

    •Social media jumped substantially as a source of energy-saving tips in this year's survey-from 19 percent in 2014 to 28 percent in 2015.

    •Gen Yers, ages 21-33, are even more likely to find social media a useful information source; 39 percent said they have received good tips through their social networks.

Greater Awareness, Acceptance of Increased Use of Renewables

    •Seventy-seven percent of consumers consider themselves knowledgeable about alternative energy resources-up slightly from 75 percent in 2014.

    •Sixty-four percent of consumers ranked "increasing the use of solar power" among their top three energy-related issues-up from 58 percent in 2014 and 50 percent in 2013.

    •Fifty percent cited "increasing use of wind power" among their top three issues-up from 45 percent in 2014 and 41 percent in 2013.

    •Consumers expressed a strong desire to end U.S. dependence on imported oil; 81 percent ranked that goal among their top three energy-related matters-up from 77 percent in 2014.

Smart Energy-saving Technologies not Being Fully Embraced

The penetration of smart thermostats or home control and automation systems remains low and consistent. Only 4 percent said they have programmable smartphone-accessible thermostats, and only 3 percent said they have mobile device-accessible home automation systems.

DR Meets OnDemand Cable TV? Greater Consumer Interest in Multiservice Packages

    •More consumers are interested in other services from electricity providers.

    •Fifty-one percent are interested in purchasing Internet services-up from 36 percent in 2014. Thirty-eight percent are interested in cable TV-up from 27 percent in 2014.

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