Siemens Smart Grid tour educates industry and consumers

Siemens Smart Grid tour educates industry and consumers

 
By Bill Lydon - Editor
 
I recently attended the Siemens Smart Grid Tour on June 23, 2010 in Chicago. The tour is a traveling educational event about the SmartGrid, saving energy, and improving the environment. The SmartGrid has created a great deal of interest, particularly because the government is injecting a significant amount of money into it around the world.
 
The Obama administration committed to making $3.5 billion in smart grid investments. A growing number of smart grid related projects are expected to come online and accelerate a shift toward increased production and use of renewable energy.
 
Siemens is putting a major emphasis on the SmartGrid as well as related energy and environmental initiatives, evident by the appointment of Richard Hausmann to manage the Siemens Smart Grid Applications project. Richard Hausmann reports directly to Siemens Energy CEO, Wolfgang Dehen. Dehen commented, “Richard Hausmann was very successful in expanding business in China and more than doubled our revenue there in just five years.”“His experience in this highly dynamic market makes him the ideal candidate to develop new business models for Siemens in one of the most important future markets in the new energy age.” Siemens believes they are the world’s only manufacturer with comprehensive expertise along the entire chain of energy conversion and plans on taking a comprehensive global approach by providing technology, IT expertise, and advise to customers. The company’s stated intention is to capture about 20 percent market share by the year 2014, in a market they estimate is worth 30 billion Euros. Electricity demand worldwide is projected to grow by more than 60 percent by 2030.
 
 
Buildings of the Future
Dr. Christopher Vogel, Head of Siemens Building Technologies, discussed Siemens’ vision of buildings 15-20 years in the future when electricity will be required for most applications in daily life. The flow of energy will need to be managed for traditional centralized generation along with decentralized energy sources such as wind, solar, biofuel, and hydro. Energy storage devices need to store energy from sources such as wind and solar for use at a later time. Two way communications between demand and supply with the Smart Grid will provide information that will be used at power consuming sources for coordination to balance power supply and demand. Future buildings may act as power plants by incorporating alternative power generation such as solar, wind, and geothermal, thus creating power at the point of use to achieve a net zero energy balance. These buildings may also distribute generation capacity when producing more energy than they consume.
 
The U.S. Department of Energy has been promoting the Net-Zero Energy Commercial Building Initiative that aims to achieve marketable net-zero energy in commercial buildings by 2025. Net-zero energy buildings generate as much energy as they consume through efficient technologies and on-site power generation. The Net-Zero Energy Commercial Building Initiative (or Commercial Building Initiative) encompasses all activities that support this goal, including industry partnerships, research, and tool development. More Information.
 
Dr. Vogel also discussed the concept of “buildings mimic living entities” to create smart integrated building envelopes that are environmentally friendly and self-managed. He noted that Siemens is spending a significant amount of money on research in these areas.
 
Preparing Buildings for Smart Grid
Phil Bomrad, Director of Energy Services, discussed preparing buildings for the Smart Grid. The demand response market is just starting to emerge with only parts of the United States involved at this time. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission website has this and other information for the United States.
 
Bomrad suggested three parts of a plan to improve operations. First, understand energy use today, do an audit of your infrastructure to understand energy consumers, and create a baseline for benchmarking energy use. Second, build the infrastructure of meters, sub meters, sensors, automation, and other appropriate items. Third, measure and report on results to refine operations and drive occupant behavior. He noted that many utilities and states have money available with various programs for each step of the process. There is a great deal of information on government money available at the U.S. Department of Energy website.
 
Currently, there are competing standards for the “Smart Meter” - a two way communicating power meter at a user’s facility. This may take time to shakeout. Bomrad proposed that the solution developed by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory may become the standard. In the question and answer session, it became obvious that standards for the “Smart Meter” are not solid at this point and consist of competing technologies and approaches.
 
Bomrad closed with the statement that the Smart Grid is emerging, but you can prepare your buildings now to be more efficient.
 
Smart Grid Dome
The Siemens Smart Grid Tour is centered around a 3,000-square foot exhibit walk-in structure that showcases end-to-end Smart Grid solutions. The dome hosts videos, interactive demos, and educational sessions that inform visitors on topics including automation, power distribution, generation, and transmission.
 
The Siemens Smart Grid Tour covers six cities; Click here to register for an upcoming event
 
 
 
 
Partner Products Displayed
 
PowerIT
Siemens is selling the PowerIT systems to help customers save energy in industrial plants. The PowerIt Solutions uses the SparaEMS WEB-based real-time applications appliance controller that supervises power demand levels and controls energy loads to keep demand peaks within user-defined limits. It uses real-time energy usage and cost data by connecting to the facility’s utility meters. Predictive algorithms allow the systems to identify short, precisely-timed load reduction opportunities. The system continuously calculates the volatility of the factory’s energy use at any point in time to do a highly refined projection for control. The goal is to do the minimum amount of control to save the maximum amount of electrical cost. Last year PowerIT raised venture capital of $6 million led by Siemens Venture Capital and ArcelorMittal (together with @Ventures and Expansion Capital Partners). More information.
 
eMeter
Siemens is also reselling Meter Data Management (MDM) software from eMeter. Ralf Christian, CEO of the Power Distribution Division of Siemens Sector Energy, has noted, “eMeter is the leading provider of MDM software and has a product (EnergyIPtm) with a modern architecture, proven scalability, and leading functionality that enables utility customers to remain AMI vendor neutral.” “Coupling this technology with our global sales coverage will provide utilities with a reliable cornerstone for their Smart Grid investments. The information held in the MDM can then be exploited across a utility’s operations together with Siemens’ broad portfolio of power distribution solutions.”
 
In 2008, eMeter raised $12.5 million in venture funding led by Siemens and joined by existing investors, including Foundation Capital and DBL Investors. More Information.
 
The Economist Panel
The Economist moderated discussions at the end of the day. The involvement of The Economist in this tour symbolically illustrates the linkage required for Smart Grid success between the automation industry and business. Justin Hendrix of the Economist moderated the Thought Leadership panel. The panelists included:
 
  • Tristan d’Estree Sterk, The Office for Robotic Architectural Media and The Bureau for Responsive Architecture (www.orambra.com)
  • Story Bellows, Director, The Mayors’ Institute on City Design (www.micd.org)
  • Kathy Tholins, CEO, Center for Neighborhood Technology and Project Director, Illinois Smart Grid Initiative (www.cnt.org)
 
The discussion primarily centered on urban issues, architecture and the need to educate people. Key points by each panelist include:
 
Story Bellows - Competitiveness of cities is the big topic and mayors are not well versed on energy.
 
Tristan d’Estree Sterk – Consideration needs to be given to the energy to build something and the energy to inhabit it.  A key question to answer is how can the design be changed to better fit the inhabitant while saving energy?
 
Kathy Tholins - Consumers would make better informed decisions about transportation if they had the information. For example, she is more likely to use a bus rather than a taxi because she has a bus tracker application on her Blackberry.
 
The Economist went on to interview Henry Cisneros, a politician, businessman, and former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in Clinton administration from 1993 to 1997. Cisneros agreed with the panelist and offered some comments about change. 
 
Cisneros is convinced that change must be made from the bottom up, and he has always believed that cities can be masters of their own destinies. He believes that the federal government must be thought of by local government as a partner with capital. They can help push the envelope, but they need innovative partners at the local level to make projects truly successful. Cisneros asserted that our national competitiveness is a stake. We need a better infrastructure to compete with the newer infrastructures that other companies have.
 
Today, Cisneros is the founder and head of CityView, an institutional investment firms focused on urban real estate, in-city housing, and metropolitan infrastructure. Founded in 2000, CityView has generated more than $2 billion in urban investment in 45 communities across the United States.
 
Thought & Comments
Siemens is making a big commitment and investment to the SmartGrid and associated technologies that encompass everything related to electrical power including generation, distribution, and consumption. Siemens indicates that about one-third of its revenue, 23 billion Euros, is from green products and solutions.
 
The SmartGrid is going to take some time to develop. Investing in energy conservation and efficiency has always made sense and hopefully these activities will stimulate people to do more.
 
Siemens is really doing a professional job (with style)of promoting this initiative and educating people.