The rationale, status and applications of Energy 2.0 as well as the Green Button (GB) initiative were key focus areas at the Connectivity Week conference, May 21-24, 2012 in Santa Clara, CA. Smart grid applications and a reality check status report were also quite relevant. These are all summarized below.
Cloud based smart grid applications were explored, while critical cloud issues for utilities were identified and discussed. Please contact the author if you’re interested in that topic, which could not be addressed in this article due to space and time limitations.
Energy 2.0 and Green Button are new concepts which have great potential and promise for the IT industry. The opportunity is to provide devices, services and applications for the energy sector, which would use IT to better manage and monitor energy consumption in commercial buildings, homes and critical infrastructure. It is envisioned that would be done through massive connectivity of smart sensors, devices and computer/storage systems.
The desired results of Energy 2.0 include: energy efficiency, actionable information on energy consumption (through analytics), reporting of timely information to empower people, optimized use of distributed generation, peak-demand shaving, electric vehicle integration, and more.
Green Button will enable electricity customers to securely download easy-to-understand energy usage information from their utility or electricity supplier. With up to date and comprehensive energy usage information, consumers could use a growing array of new web and smart phone/smart device tools to make informed energy decisions, optimize the size and cost-effectiveness of solar panels for their home, or verify that energy-efficiency retrofit investments are performing as promised by the supplier(s).
Green Button is an industry-led effort that responds to a White House call-to-action: provide electricity customers with easy access to their energy usage data in a consumer-friendly and computer-friendly format via a “Green Button” on electric utilities’ website. Green Button is based on a common technical standard developed in collaboration with a public-private partnership supported by the Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).
Launched in January 2012, electric utilities are committed to provide Green Button capability to nearly 12 million households in 2012. Two utilities – Pacific Gas & Electric and San Diego Gas & Electric [click here for an interview with San Diego Gas and Electric’s Ted Reguly] – have implemented live functionality on their websites. Recently, nine major utilities and electricity suppliers signed on to the initiative, committing to provide more than 15 million households secure access to their energy data with a simple click of an online Green Button. In total, these commitments ensure that 27 million households will be able to access their own energy information, and this number will continue to grow as utilities nationwide voluntarily make energy data more available in this common, machine-readable format.
For more information on Green Button please visit: http://www.greenbuttondata.org/greenabout.html
To see a video interview that offers a glimpse of how San Diego Gas and Electric implemented Green Button, view this video – http://www.viodi.tv/2012/03/02/smart-energy-ecosystem/
Highlights of Sessions on Green Button:
It’s anticipated that Green Button standards (which have been adopted by utilities across the U.S.) will encourage software developers to create smart device apps that read, analyze, and present valuable energy information to electricity customers. This will help consumers make better use of their energy usage information.
What can consumers do with Green Button (GB) data?
- Draw charts of energy usage over time
- Create a platform for use of charts by eCommerce and other apps
- Augmented reality for energy efficiency
- Show GB data to children to make them more aware of their energy consumption
- Model heat storage batteries
- Adjust electricity load to stay within a pre-set profile
A later Connectivity Week session examined specific GB data types, which include:
- Hourly load profile for past billing period plus current period to date
- Fifteen minute load profile for most recent 15 days
- Daily load profile for past month or year
- Summary only data
- Energy usage and energy demand readings
- Gas, Water usage profiles
- Yearly summary data with monthly parts
Panel Discussion on Energy 2.0 Market
- The ultimate goal of Energy 2.0 is to provide abundant, clean and affordable energy to consumers.
- The ecosystem will include: government, financial community, energy suppliers, IT vendors and consumers.
- Energy use data availability, investment and good business models are needed.
- IT focused on energy demand will result in improved energy efficiency and cost effectiveness.
- Tools and devices for smart and more efficient energy consumption will likely be driven by innovative start-up companies.
- The current system of dealing with data in energy and transportation industries is “fundamentally broken,” according to Sunil Paul.
Utilities are reluctant to share or effectively use data they have. This must change so that utilities “open up” (the energy information they have accumulated). Hopefully, GB initiative will accomplish that.
- Potential bottleneck in realizing benefits of Energy 2.0 is that their might not be enough well-funded entrepreneurs or start-ups.
- It will take a transformation to get investor owned utilities to improve energy efficiency, demand response, energy storage, etc. The status quo is very difficult for them to overcome.
- If we “break the data code (and make it more available/accessible) we’ll see free flow of information happen.
- Existing utility regulatory code should remain in place.
For more information, please see the Energy 2.0 framework:
Smart Grid Applications by Doug Houseman of Enernex:
- Doug reviewed the 7 NIST domains for Smart Grid.
- He examined several applications that are possible in the 7 NIST domains (e.g. aggregation in the service provider domain).
- Discussion of how each application could be implemented and what the impacts might be
- Discussion of obstacles for each application and current status.
Doug’s very realistic assessment of smart grid status was excellent! Here are his presentation slides:
Selected Quotes from Industry Leaders:
The Connectivity Week 2012 conference chairman–Anto Budiardjo of Clasma Events Inc provided his thoughts on the conference in an email: “Our main focus for CW [Connectivity Week] this year was to work on the engagement of the high-tech sector, especially the software development message around the Green Button initiative and related apps.”
We created the Energy 2.0 framework to enable the delivery of real-time automation and analytics across the energy supply chain. We feel that in many ways, the future of energy is an IT play, especially with all the new smart devices that will come from non-energy vendors.”
But this will only be possible with collaboration among technology innovators, energy consumers, electricity suppliers (utilities), and government organizations.
We started this quest a couple of years back at CW, and we do believe that progress is being made, albeit slowly.
The discussions and sessions this year was created with this in mind, so while the cloud sessions were a little light on cloud substance, it was directed to this conversation in engaging the IT community around Green Button specifically.”
From Erich Gunther, CTO of Enernex:
“Personally, I had a very positive experience at Connectivity Week. Although attendance was down like at almost every other conference I have been at lately, the technical content of the sessions and the caliber of speakers was as high as it ever was.
I received good response during and after the event with respect to Apps for Energy and Green Button from several points of view. With my hat as Chairman of the UCAIug, I was able to recruit several new corporate and members and get some support for the upcoming testing and certification program development. With my EnerNex CTO hat on, we were successful in generating new business at the event. One side meeting in particular resulted in a very large piece of sole source work – enough to cover the cost of attending and exhibiting. With my NIST administrator hat on, we were able to engage a significant number of stakeholders not yet involved in the SGiP and we also received good feedback on how we should improve our Green Button support and collaboration with the White House OSTP.”
From Doug Houseman, VP of Technology & Innovations at Enernex:
“Connectivity Week 2012 conference provided the best focus to date on the consumer’s use of energy data. The large number of sessions devoted to Green Button and the level of support from Washington, shows that Green Button is here to stay.
Connectivity Week provides one of the few venues where the building industry actually sits down with the utility industry to discuss their mutual interests.”
AJW Closing Comment:
This conference certainly raised the level of awareness, potential and power of the Green Button initiative as well as the tech focused goals of Energy 2.0. While this was a narrower scope than last year’s CW, its focus was sharper and crisper. A new opportunity awaits IT developers focused on these new market segments.