13 Mar 2009
Great article. Many people focus on the fact that clean tech led in investments last year, but it’s important to take into consideration that many of these companies and projects have stalled and need these government grants to kick them into full speed again.
One thing worth taking a look at is the technologies that are enabling these clean tech startups (as well as the big utilities) to ensure that their renewable energy systems, smart grids, etc. are operating most effectively and efficiently. One issue with both renewable energy systems and the smart grid is that they are usually made up of many components -- each created to optimize a particular function, but not necessarily created to communicate to the other components or the system as a whole. As a result, these systems are often difficult to manage, and often times if one component is not performing optimally, it can affect the performance of the rest of the system. I work with a company called Fat Spaniel Technologies (www.fatspaniel.com) that provides an open platform that can monitor and manage all components of a renewable energy system, giving a single view of the entire system and showing renewable energy companies, utilities and more how the system is performing and what could be performing better.
The reason why an open energy monitoring platform is needed is because it reins in the complexity of these systems, makes them more efficient, and reduces the cost of managing them. This is very important in the case of trying to receive government grants, because in order to do so these companies all need to show that they have the systems in place to ensure they are operating as cost-effectively and efficiently as possible.
13 Mar 2009
Very interseting observations, Fatspaniel. How many politicians would know a "systems engineer" from a hole in the ground ? Yes, it hurts to watch it hobble-on. Ever bigger and spikier MUST be better - mustn't it ! If you point-out that - for instance - Turbo-Alternator Devices - TADs - have an unusual "economy of size" (it's necklace-shaped because T's have the opposite "eos" of A's) - and that 5% p.a. of cost is readily available from a very well balanced system in an average site - and further, that current (80m high) "technology" returns only 1/30 - 1/50 th of this - The phone gets cut ? you don't hear back anyway.
It is - maybe not so simple - arithametical fact that no matter how big a "kickstart" is applied to a - dead donkey, for instance - it is never going to be able to get-on on its own.
If half of the output of an energy-gathering/supplying system - supplying 5% p.a. of its value, for instance - is used to extend the system, then it will double in size/value/output with the passing of each 100/2.5 x logn( double, 2) i.e. 28 years or so . This is enuf to maintain it and grow.
Quite obviously if we substitute 0.15 - or even a Whole percent ! - for the 5%, then a downward trend is inevitable. Maybe that's what "renewable" is about. You just give it another enormouse "kickstart" and then a few years later say "oh dear, well we did our best, and now we know that wind-energy doesn't work we will just have to build more "nuclear" "Things".
Who but "systems engineers" will see anything wrong with that ?
Currently I am completely ignored, offering 5%, and however feasible a system Actually IS, it Has to be "born" with a sensible initial investment if it is to grow to a useful size in our lifetimes !!
Useful regarding Global warming mitigation, that is.