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Danfoss EnVisioneering Symposium: Future Smart Grid Requires Education, Collaboration between Manufacturers and Utilities

BONITA SPRINGS, FL – During the November 11 Danfoss EnVisioneeringSM Symposium, senior executives in heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC), government and industry associations explored the broad potential of the smart grid and its impact on the challenges faced today with U.S. buildings and building systems.
Entitled “The Grid, Systems & Buildings: A Glimpse over the Horizon,” the roundtable discussion examined standards, smart buildings, existing and emerging technologies, energy storage and policy, with discussion focusing especially on:
·         What does the smart grid mean to HVAC manufacturers?
·         What changes and adaptations are required to better integrate HVAC products with the smart grid?
·         What is the role of utilities, and what will the HVAC/utility relationship look like?
One key theme quickly emerged: Moving forward, utilities need stronger collaboration with manufacturers to better understand how the latest HVACR technologies can be applied and impact energy use and peak utility loads. Likewise, manufacturers need to ensure their products will help utilities become more efficient and better prepared for the future smart grid.
Christopher Irwin, smart grid standards and operability coordinator, Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability, U.S. Department of Energy, opened the symposium and underscored that HVAC manufacturers can impact the smart grid. “Equipment manufacturers know best how to optimize energy – and are most responsive to how it can be linked to the grid. Engineers need to design systems that take into consideration how they can be integrated into a ‘whole building system’ and applied to a smart grid.”
David Holmberg of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) reinforced the idea, observing that as technology continues to advance – citing variable speed as an example – utilities and manufacturers need to synchronize their efforts to understand how new building technologies will integrate with and impact grid implementation.
According to Tom Catania, vice president, government relations, Whirlpool Corporation, the time to move forward with implementation is now. He described how Whirlpool plans to push smart grid-ready technology into the market through a company line of smart appliances and explained the automatic and collateral benefits, which include the ability to shift consumer energy consumption off-peak, provide quick response to spinning reserve requirements, provide information to consumers so they can make smarter choices and gain overall superior control of home appliances and energy consumption. Critical to rapid adoption of “connected” appliances are public policies like the EPA’s recent announcement of its intention to incorporate these products into the ENERGY STAR® program, and shifting of traditional utility consumer rebate programs to connected products that make the grid more efficient.
Clay Nesler, vice president, global energy and sustainability at Johnson Controls, addressed commercial buildings and the demand for a whole building systems approach to create a “smart building” whose systems not only work together but ultimately communicate with the grid to reduce energy use during peak demand periods.
As an example, Nesler discussed an automated demand reduction project at Georgia Institute of Technology which purchases electricity based on dynamic hourly pricing from the local utility, Georgia Power. Each hour, the building management system reads energy prices for the next 48 hours provided by the utility’s web service, and adjusts usage accordingly. With an almost 1 MW reduction in peak load reduction and a 7 percent energy consumption reduction, the project improved both campus energy and grid performance.
Representing utilities, Michael Oldak, vice president and general counsel, Utilities Telecom Council, stressed the potential energy and cost savings from the smart grid for both building owners and utilities. While utility rate design could be critical for customers trying to maximize the ability to manage load shifting, it still begs the question of how the industry will be able to prove and maintain the value of their products. Revealing to customers the utility energy costs over the day, present and future capacity costs and utility costs on critical peak days would help to highlight the savings gained when energy usage is held for off-peak times, as well as allow for dynamic pricing and peak-time rebates.
Yet, even though a true smart grid may still be on the horizon, action by manufacturers, contractors, utilities and policy makers is needed today.
“As an industry, we need to encourage the designers to specify the available technology and equipment that is able to be integrated into the smart grid,” commented Mark MacCracken, chief executive officer, CALMAC Manufacturing Corporation. “If it is not being installed now, we’re setting ourselves back by not getting the equipment into place for the future.”
Citing the example of variable speed air conditioning, Robert Wilkins, vice president public affairs at Danfoss, illustrated that technologies exist today that offer two value streams: to consumers, and to utilities. Consumers benefit from greater energy savings, increased comfort and reduced noise compared to traditional fixed-speed systems. Utilities benefit from superior performance and responsiveness in peak utility load conditions, which can help defer investments in new power plant construction to handle the peak loads.
“The urgent need,” summarized Wilkins, “is in the development of utility programs that spur deployment of such innovative and smart grid-ready technologies. That’s where the cooperation between all parties is critical.”
This was the 16th EnVisioneering Symposium since the launch of the series in 2006 to keep stakeholders abreast of developments in policy and industry and present a forum for on-going dialogue among industry thought leaders in research and development and the policy community.

Contact FacilitiesNet Editorial Staff »   posted on: 12/16/2011

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