Category Archives: Technical

Anaerobic digestion

Image courtesy: Indian Biogas Association a collection of processes by which microorganisms break down biodegradable material in the absence of oxygen. The process is used for industrial or domestic purposes to manage waste or to produce fuels. Pros Can be used to create and capture methane gas at sewage treatment plant. Cons The upfront technology…
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Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI)

"Smart meter" by miheco is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 an integrated system of smart meters, communications networks, and data management systems that enables two-way communication between utilities and customers. Pros Allows for higher level of electrical system awareness and control Cons It's expensive to switch over from analog meters Real Talk Energy systems rely…
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Battery Energy Storage System (BESS)

"1 MW 4 MWh Turner Energy Storage Project in Pullman, WA" by UniEnergy Technologies is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 a device that is able to store electrical energy in the form of chemical energy, and convert that energy into electricity. Lithium-ion and lead acid chemistries are common. Pros Can balance, maintain or shift energy…
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Biomass

"Biomass energy generator of Dockside Green" by John Newcomb is licensed under CC BY 3.0 organic material that comes from plants and animals and is a renewable source of energy. Biomass contains stored energy from the sun. Plants absorb the sun's energy in a process called photosynthesis. When biomass is burned, the chemical energy in biomass is released as heat. Pros Biomass is abundant. Exists around…
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Capacity factor

Image Courtesy: NREL the unitless ratio of a generation source's actual electrical energy output over a given period of time to the maximum possible electrical energy output over that same period. Capacity factor = Annual MWh / (365 x 24 x nameplate MW). Pros Enables comparison of energy generation sources regardless of fuel type Cons RE sources…
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Coal

" Coal Seam at Coal Mine" by Peabody Energy is licensed under CC BY 3.0 a combustible black or brownish-black sedimentary rock with a high amount of carbon and hydrocarbons. Coal is classified as a nonrenewable energy source because it takes millions of years to form. Coal contains the energy stored by plants that lived…
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Compressed Air Energy Storage (CAES)

Image Courtesy: U.S. Department of Energy a way to store energy generated at one time for use at another time using compressed air. At utility scale, energy generated during periods of low energy demand (off-peak) can be released to meet higher demand (peak load) periods. Pros Safe energy storage that can be put anywhere. Cons Not very efficient. Large scale CAES…
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Concentrated solar photovoltaic

Image Courtesy: U.S. Department of Energy Concentrated solar photovoltaic systems utilize lenses or curved mirrors to focus sunlight onto specialized solar cells for the production of electricity. Pros Can significantly increase PV electricity production from a smaller footprint. Cons Technology providers have struggled to develop and maintain market products Real Talk If perfected, concentrated PV could…
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Concentrated solar thermal

"Concentrated solar power - concentrated solar thermal icon" by Tommaso.sansone91 is licensed under CC0 1.0 Concentrated solar thermal systems utilize mirrors or lenses to focus the sun's thermal thermal energy onto a working fluid like water (creates steam that drives electric generators) or salt (creates molten salt, which stores the thermal energy). Common configurations are…
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Diesel

Image Courtesy: Environmental Protection Agency a specific fractional distillate of petroleum fuel oil. Non-petroleum alternatives such as biodiesel, biomass-to-liquid (BTL) and gas-to-liquid (GTL) diesel are increasingly being developed and adopted.  Pros Energy dense. Cons It's a carbon-producing fossil fuel. Real Talk We need to support electrification of trucking and earth-moving equipment. A transition to 100%…
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Distributed Energy Resource (DER)

Image Courtesy: Dover Air Force Base Distributed energy resources are small, modular, energy generation and storage technologies that provide electric capacity or energy where you need it. Typically producing less than 10 megawatts (MW) of power, DER systems can usually be sized to meet your particular needs and installed on site. DER systems may be…
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Distribution system

"American Distribution System" by No such user is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 the portion of the system that facilities the delivery of electric energy from the transmission system to the end user. Pros Allows for cost-effective market operation and access to a diverse generation supply, like your rooftop PV system. Cons Adapting the system…
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Distribution System Operator (DSO)

Image Courtesy: Western Power Distribution an emerging business model that expands on the traditional role of Electric Distribution Companies (EDCs) – delivering power from transmission networks to retail customers – to actively managing more complex two-way power flows to and from retail customers. Pros Enables customers to be both producers and consumers (i.e. prosumers) by…
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Electric current

a measure of the flow of electric charge across a surface. The SI unit of electric current is the ampere, which is equal to a flow rate of one coulomb per second.  "Ampere-o-meter" by Adamantios is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 Pros a means to measuring the pieces of energy. Cons Current, and not voltage,…
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Electric Distribution Company (EDC)

"PECO Building cropped" by Xnatedawgx is licensed under CC BY 3.0 the company that owns the power lines and equipment necessary to deliver purchased electricity to the customer. Pros Dedicated to owning and maintaining the infrastructure needed to operate our electrical systems. Cons Can be limiting due in part to goals that are misaligned with…
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Electric vehicle

"Electric Vehicle Charging Station" by Visitor7 is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 a vehicle which uses one or more electric motors for propulsion, as opposed to a single Internal Combustion Engine (ICE). Includes conventional hybrids (e.g. Toyota Prius), Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEVs), Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs) and Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles (FCEVs). Pros Vehicle…
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Electricity demand

Image Courtesy: HomElectrical the rate, measured in kW, at which electricity is consumed on an instantaneous basis. Compare to energy consumption (measured in kWh), which represents the quantity of energy consumed over a certain period of time. The "demand charges" seen on electric utility bills correspond to a customer's peak usage; this portion of the…
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Energy

Image licensed under CC0 1.0 the universal measure of power over time. Electrical energy is derived from electric potential or kinetic energy, and supplied by the combination of electric current (Amps) and electric potential (Volts) that is delivered by an electrical circuit (e.g., provided by an electric power utility). Pros A pillar of modern economies.…
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Energy audit

Image Courtesy: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers an assessment of your home or business that takes a look at current energy consumption and then identifies energy efficiency measures that you can conduct to make your home more efficient. Pros Helps you understand how you are using energy. Cons The quality of audit can vary widely. Real Talk…
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Fuel cell

"Bloom Energy Servers at eBay" by Bloom Energy is licensed under CC BY 2.0 an electrochemical cell that converts the potential energy from a fuel into electricity through a reaction of hydrogen fuel with oxygen or another oxidizing agent. Pros Fuel cells allow otherwise combustible gas like hydrogen or natural gas to generate electricity without emitting carbon. Cons The technology has proven to…
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