zaterdag 9 mei 2015

Inverter Ownership

This tweet with a questionable statement came by recently. It singles out one potential application of the Tesla powerwall, and links to an interesting document about how the inverter in a local powersystem should possibly belong to the grid, so that the local powersystem as a whole can be adapted to play nicely with the larger gridneeds.

From an archaic perspective I understand this white paper. If you are a struggling utility company with your hands in your hair, you start researching different, oldskool business opportunities, and the prehistoric businessdevelopment departement is then set to calculate businesscases with these type of convoluted “solutions”.

But this is a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist. Here is why:

When you change to decentralised powergeneration, then the demand problem is divided into decentralised powerrequests as well. The dimensionality of these powerrequests is relatively in balance, and should not be compared to central powerdemand management which serves industrial and privately sized requests all in one go.

Industry sized requests should be served by industry scale storage, not by a series of your garden variety homebattery. There are also several scales of storage in between industrial size and homebatteries. An entire street, an entire district, maybe a city. To create storage at these different scales you probably need different technologies as well.

A small district could be served quite well by a flow battery solution in a small utility transformerbuilding. That technology is well suited for the size of the requests, and the safety requirements of the environment. And even when considering a small industrialised area; many of the companies and buildings will be generating power of their own, have some sort of online storage, and only require supplemental storage in specific cases.

Which brings us to smart sharing. Smart sharing is pretty much the very heart of the “power to the people” motto. If you own the generating facilities, you own the generated power. And clearly this means you get to decide to whom and for how much you might want to sell that power. The entire trick is to facilitate this sharing and make it as efficient as possible. This does mean that the technical infrastructure needs to be able to handle this sharing.

Clearly, that type of infrastructure is not currently available. Clearly, that type of infrastructure is dependent on how we connect the grid nodes. Since efficiency is a prime driver, it is likely not all based on inverters and powerconversions. Local powerdemands may well be served by a low voltagegrid for which no powerinversions are required.

So, my advice to Utility companies is that instead of focussing on odd businessmodels that convolute the relation between knowledge and responsibility, they should start focussing on a new gridsystem with new gridstandards that allow them to serve and deliver smart sharing in the most efficient way possible.

See also: cloudbased powerstorage

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