Wednesday, September 28, 2011
Thursday, September 22, 2011
The first one is by former Austin Energy CIO Andres Carvallo, called The Advanced Smart Grid: Edge Power Driving Sustainability. Co-authored with frequent technology writer John Cooper, this book is relatively short at ~200 well illustrated pages, and is a pleasure to read. I'm going to re-use some of the laudatory words I recently posted in an Amazon review.
Before they invite you to travel with them into the future, Carvallo and Cooper do a solid job of orienting the reader with concise summaries of where the grid came from, how it's evolved over time, and as accurately as possible, how it's doing in its current state. For the many immigrants who've recently moved to energy from other sectors (like me), this is a great grounding.
The authors then look past the current climate of activity, much of it initially fueled with government grants, to a phase where business drivers alone dictate what gets deployed next. Ultimately, they begin to unveil for us a blurry but emerging vision of "the advanced Smart Grid", that's predicated on pervasive IP networking, tons and tons of data, microgrids, EVs, virtual power plants, new business models and more. For me, it was well worth the time, and depending on your background and/or day job, it might be for you too.
Book number two is from one of the (if not, THE) true giants of global energy thinking over the past decades, Daniel Yergin. Best known (to me, anyway) for his biblical telling of the history and future of the oil industry in The Prize, his new book, The Quest: Energy, Security, and the Remaking of the Modern World, expands in scope to consider all energy sources. Recently reviewed in the NYT, this excerpt seems apropos:
When it comes to assessing the world’s energy future Mr. Yergin is a Churchillian. He argues that we should consider all possible energy sources, the way Winston Churchill considered oil when he spoke to the British Parliament in 1913. “On no one quality, on no one process, on no one country, on no one route, and on no one field must we be dependent,” Churchill said. “Safety and security in oil lie in variety and variety alone.”... and one more thing, for which the a smarter grid is the essential precursor:
One of Mr. Yergin’s closing arguments focuses on the importance of thinking seriously about one energy source that “has the potential to have the biggest impact of all.” That source is efficiency. It’s a simple idea, he points out, but one that is oddly “the hardest to wrap one’s mind around.” More efficient buildings, cars, airplanes, computers and other products have the potential to change our world.Sounds great, right? Well, the bad news for you travelers is that, from a weight perspective, is that it tops 800 pages, though if you get the ebook version it's as light as can be. Now reading it, or the majority of it, that's another story. If it's too much for you to consider, maybe you can wait and hope for a movie version. But I wouldn't count on it.
Photo credit: Miamism on Flickr.com
(Cross-posted from the Smart Grid Security Blog)
Wednesday, September 21, 2011
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
As a recovering TRADOCian, I have a little experience trying to get something new into the curriculum at military schools. With packed schedules, anything new requires that something else be dropped. I predicted that it would be a long time before energy security started showing up in the school house. I was wrong.
The Green Hornet himself, SecNav Ray Mabus came up on the net late last month with an announcement:
"Let me give you the headline of why I'm here today," Mabus said. "Starting this fall, the Naval Postgraduate School will offer … energy graduate degree program[s], the first military educational institution to do so. And beginning early next year, NPS will launch the SECNAV Executive Energy Series – catchy title – a two-week program designed to tackle specific energy challenges."
The Naval Post Graduate School has the mission to “provides high-quality, relevant and unique advanced education and research programs that increase the combat effectiveness of the Naval Services, other Armed Forces of the U.S. and our partners, to enhance our national security”. Officers from all Services compete to attend this highly prestigious school. The fact that it is located in on Monterey Bay in Northern California does not reduce its appeal. As I well know, they are highly select in who attend. I bet it would have been fun.
That the Navy is willing to commit the resources in their educational program to highlight this area of study is telling. Where there may not be big dollars for projects in the near term, shaping future decision makers understanding of energy security is about setting the conditions for success. While DOD has been relatively short term focused, the Navy is stepping out to create the leaders for whom energy is an internalized value. Well done, Sailors!
Tuesday, September 13, 2011
So only a few days ago you saw a post here about grid lessons from Hurricane Irene. Now we're back with another major grid event and I'm not sure what to call it other than the recent Arizona, San Diego and Mexico outage ... SanMexiZona outage perhaps?
- Cascading failure reached into California and Mexico, knocking power out to millions
- And caused 2 nuclear facilities to shut down
- Navy and Marine bases turn to back-up diesel generators and kept non-essential personnel home
- And many other types of trouble you'd expect from a black out in a large US city ensued, driving cost estimates into the hundreds of millions.
But then a little thing happens during routine maintenance and a big chunk of the grid unexpectedly swoons. Amory Lovins and others on the 2008 DoD Science Board (DSB) task force on Energy identified the US grid as brittle and a threat to CONUS military readiness. Here's Lovins in 2010:
The US electrical grid ... is very capital-intensive, complex, technologically unforgiving, usually reliable, but inherently brittle. It is responsible for 98–99 percent of U.S. power failures, and occasionally blacking out large areas within seconds—because the grid requires exact synchrony across subcontinental areas … and can be interrupted by a lightning bolt, rifle bullet, malicious computer program, untrimmed branch, or errant squirrel.
Image credit: KUSI News San Diego
(Cross-posted from the Smart Grid Security Blog)
Wednesday, September 7, 2011
- the Management
Thursday, September 1, 2011
Superb piece by Dr. Richard Andres and Micah Loudermilk in livebetter eMagazine. I love periodicals that save money on capitalization! Dr. Andres’ piece cites an experiment run by the Power Surety Task Force, where I happened to work at the time. We talked Clark Real Estate (privatized housing) into letting us modify four housing units under construction at Fort Belvoir, one as a control and three with progressively greater degrees of energy efficiency and conservation as well as renewable energy.Our goal was to be able to determine the contributions of the various mods in reducing grid energy use. The only thing we couldn't influence were who lived there or how they behaved. There’s the rub!
Our control house turned out to be the most efficient; our Cadillac house, an energy hog. After resetting everything we could reset and running the numbers again, the results were the same. So we surveyed the occupants. Control house had dual military, no kids, readers (vice TV) who didn’t like air conditioning. Cadillac house had teenagers. Need I say more?
The point that Dr. Andres and Micah make is that behavior matters in energy use. All of the Services talk about needing to change their culture to achieve greater energy awareness. But the cultures are fine. Ask any Drill Sergeant. Culture is just the transmission of values and wisdom from one generation to the next. “Here, kid, this is what works.” Wisdom is the prescription for “what works”. The medium for the transmission are the behavior of senior leadership and the actions they take. Values can be taught, but they are better caught. Each audience will require different messages, the theme tailored to that audience.
If you want to impress a room full of Marines about the importance of energy conservation, have the Commandant deliver the message and make sure commanders know that it will be part of their evaluation. That is using culture to modify behavior.
If you don’t mod the behavior, it doesn’t matter what else you do. When the PSTF introduced energy savings through spray polyurethane foam spraying on tents in Iraq, the efficiency was immediately evident. Energy consumption dropped significantly…until commanders found they had extra energy. Suddenly, other non-mission critical facilities could be powered, and who doesn’t want a latte’ on a cold winter’s night?
As a young battery commander, I decide I would check things in the battery I thought noone else was really checking. I had a great First Sergeant, superb Chief of Smoke and excellent Motor Sergeant. My Lieutenants were equally good, but they would never hear that from me! When I took it over, Bravo Battery was the best in the battalion (or so the outgoing commander said in his speech). Since everything else was going so well, I decided that my “thing” would be to check for pinholes in waterproof bags. If a waterproof back has a pinhole, the sleeping bag inside gets wet and the soldier can’t sleep. Since everyone else had a piece of checking the important stuff, I checked for pinholes.
Eventually we had NO pinholes in our waterproof bags…..but the quality of training, maintenance and supply had fallen dramatically. LTC Del Campbell, the battalion commander, took me aside and said, “Remember, the important thing is to make sure that the important thing remains the important thing”. Once I finally figured out what he meant, (thanks, Top!) I made sure I was paying attention to important things, because that is what the rest of the leadership would then do. The unit does well what the boss checks.
If you want to change behavior, assign responsibility, provide the authority commensurate with the responsibility (no unfunded mandates!) and hold those responsible ruthlessly accountable for the execution of those authorities. It is how it is done in combat and training; why not use that behavior tool here? Well done, Richard and Micah. Dan Nolan