Plug and Play Energy Efficiency

When: A spring day in 2015

Where: A big box home improvement store in any community

Project: Finally getting around to connecting up your personal energy system. Now that you have converted to solid state lighting and hyper efficient appliances you want to tie them all into your own intelligent personal microgrid for the ultimate in efficient operation and to take advantage of the latest global energy incentives available through national and state programs.

Shopping list:

1. Solar panels, the new ones with high efficiency and $1/W. You could spend less for lower efficiency models but you are investing for the future! It’s all good because the new personal energy standards for power interconnections have standardized the connectors and control signals assuring you have a wide choice of control and storage systems to interface the PV panels to and that upgrades will be easy in the future.

2. Grid tied energy storage system (GTESS). Not only do you want to store energy from the sun for use in the evening, but because you and your utility participate in ‘distributed demand / response’ (DDR). DDR allows trading of excess load and capacity at the edge of the grid resulting in lower energy costs for you and lower line losses for your utility. Your GTESS satisfies all of the new smart grid security and safety specifications developed to protect and secure the larger utility grid while offering plug and play convenience for you in terms of interfaces to your home, solar array and electric vehicle energy interface which is bi-directional.

3. Personal Home Manager Master Panel (PHM). You had to debate this one with your SO because he thinks you are a big geek who buys technology for technology’s sake. Once you showed him how this integrated the alarms, energy system and HVAC into an integrated, web tied and expandable system AND saved lots on your monthly bills, he agreed to go with it. A contented home is a happy home!

4. Energy sensors. Early energy sensors were ‘one per load’ and expensive if you wanted to actually monitor individual loads, they also suffered from a lack of interoperability because of proprietary hardware and interfaces. Fortunately, the new generation of smart energy sensors are developed to work with all standard PHMs and communicate over existing home networks in a secure and trusted manner. Because of the computing power of the new system on chip technologies in the sensors and PHM you chose and the compliance of the new appliances to energy star plus which asks the manufacturers to upload a model number specific energy signature to the EPA appliance database, only one sensor is necessary to gather your home energy data yet still gives you appliance by appliance energy use data.

5. …

Rewind to today. This vision of the future is not farfetched at all. High efficiency solar cells which can be integrated into a solar PV system at a total of $1/W are projected for this time frame. I have allowed for some grace in this and described a system which, with the GTESS, would be available at $2/W. The GTESS technology I describe is under development by several companies with both power technology and batteries under accelerated development schedules. My hypothetical PHM is an obvious extension of the now popular Home Energy Management or HEMs panel concept which is extended by standardized interfaces to include HVAC thermostat functions, alarm system features and a provides a persistent portal to your own home management environment. Sensors, really sensors and controllers, are in development which do all I describe and more. If we can bring some rationalization to the area through agreed on communications and data standards, these sensors can be sourced from any supplier and interoperate with any PHM system.

As you can see, the glue for my vision is a set of power, data and security standards which allow for easy integration, personal computer like plug and play ease of integration, by the end user and for the benefit of the end user. Intel Labs, through its Energy Systems imperative, is working towards a future, not too far off, in which the vision of Personal Energy Management is a reality.

To read more about Intel’s research into Personal Energy Management, download this whitepaper.PEMS whitepaper_final edits.pdf

2 Responses to Plug and Play Energy Efficiency

  1. Joseph says:

    “they also suffered from a lack of interoperability because of proprietary hardware and interfaces.”
    Yes, yes, a thousand times yes! I’m *very* glad to see you paying attention to this critical detail.

  2. nicholas says:

    i’m looking forward to these improvements as well; the producers of this technology seem to have good will at as its foundation and therefore will [produce efforts] definitely aid in improving our overall human condition. a genuine thanks to everyone for their help on the project…you’re efforts (though to often unnoticed) are a true blessing for us all, Thanks again!