Monday, December 17, 2012

How was a district of Texas hybrid heaven

Paul A. Eisenstein, NBC News contribution
"This is one of the few places where one can see a Chevrolet Volt jam," laughs Scott Hinson, the Lab Director for Pecan Street Inc., an alternative energy project in Austin, Texas.

Specifically, Pecan Street is a neighborhood in Austin, Texas, the the heart of an ambitious project to test alternative technologies - such as plug-in hybrids like the Chevy Volt as the distribution of electricity "smart grid"-added a square mile and runs also an incredibly detailed analysis of the effectiveness of such technologies really are energy consumption.

The project has the support of General Motors and a variety of utilities and high-tech companies, such as the computer manufacturer Dell and chip-making giant Intel pulled. The U.S. Department of energy has so far kicked in $10.4 million, private partners a further $14 million. But the important part of the puzzle was always residents log on.

"The project is focused on consumers, real people to collect data from these houses structure future energy systems, help to enter" said Brewster McCracken, Managing Director of the project, in a statement.

So far, about 600 have houses and commercial buildings agreed take part. What does this mean, that can vary: the most basic requirement is a smart grid system connect and then consumption to see throw an NFL quarterback allow Pecan Street Inc., each House of the consumption of energy at a level similar to as the slow-motion camera to monitor networks now.

Disasters such as Superstorm Sandy as well as major power outages, have routinely proved that power the best is the nation of creaky. The Chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the research group of propublica in public interest said "There is no better," John Wellinghoff. "It is getting worse."

Complicate, look utilities the prospect of the possible claims of electric vehicles such as the Chevy Volt to handle. There are already 60 electric cars in Pecan Street community, most of Chevrolet plug-VG Finally, but utilities makes millions of electric vehicles could be asked.

"The electric car is the largest electrical loads in a dorm in the last 50, maybe 75 years introduced" Hinson set.

Smart grid systems to help, maximize the efficiency and durability of America's utilities network - and make sure that it adds enough electricity to go around without necessarily hundreds of new generating stations. Pecan Street participants undertake inter alia to something like air conditioning and battery is temporarily interrupted charging cable when the demand peaks in grid.

Now makes the monitoring system about every 15 minutes, which reveals how to make 1,440 snapshots in each participating House or business uses. The generated data is so precise that it is switched off at a low power incandescent bulb and where-can cover even though steps have been taken to the privacy of the participants.

Ultimately the electrical demand should help the project collected information utilities - as well as consumers – the literal ups and the River understand.

The Pecan Street project also help, can create utility customers a better understanding of the role play in the production of renewable energy. Around 200 participants have now added their homes to solar panels on the roof.

While there is a national push expansion which is renewable it some push back from the utilities that warn not only for the cost of solar and wind generators, but their potentially unpredictable nature. Before a few years Texas utilities face a unexpected situation Brown-out, when winds of the country's largest wind farms create a sudden shortage of energy doldrums.

General Motors, which actively in the program of Pecan Street, is betting that the Chevy Volt may play a role. The manufacturer is looking for ways, change the vehicles in subsequent generations, so that consumers could tap the energy stored in its batteries in the future a House should be hit by a blackout.

Batteries a program would tap into more expansive, after the vehicles used it in will be sent to the scrapyard. The automaker expects that even after a decade of driving there are still many lives left in the lithium ion battery packs.

GM is now a partnership with Duke Energy, a large US utility and ABB, one of the world's largest suppliers of power equipment, you test the potential of use of old electric car batteries, a power backup system to create. This is "the Holy Grail" beats of the Duke new technology project Manager Dan Sowder because it "could help to enable the secure and reliable integration of renewable energy into the grid."

The partners are testing a prototype battery backup system that can handle four to five houses. Finally, suggest such devices but also smaller units in individual homes could be used in the entire neighborhood Pecan Street - could be placed, the partner.

Programs such as Pecan Street help consumers and utilities alike get yourself a better feel for the energy supply in the future what the nation could look like a neighborhood at a time.

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