Empower achieves a net profit of AED 641 million in 2016

HE Ahmad Bin Shafar

HE Ahmad Bin Shafar

H.E Bin Shafar: “Inspired by the vision of the wise Leadership in the UAE, Empower marks another milestone in 2016 and aims to continue the positive momentum in the current year”

Dubai, UAE, 19 February 2017: Emirates Central Cooling Systems Corporation (Empower), the world’s largest district cooling services provider, recorded a net profit of AED 641 million for 2016. Total revenues for the year reached AED 1.84 billion, which indicates an 11% increase for the company year on year.

HE Ahmad Bin Shafar, CEO of Empower revealed the financial results in a press conference held on Sunday, 19th February at Grand Hyatt Hotel, Dubai.

At the press conference, H.E Bin Shafar stated that Empower is targeting a similar growth during the current year. He also stressed the importance of the human capital, which has been a significant element in defining Empower’s success.

“2016 marks another milestone for Empower. Inspired by the vision of HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, we at Empower witnessed a steady growth in our business in 2016. During the year 2016, Empower commenced its services to various iconic and prestigious developments such as – Jumeirah Al Naseem Hotel, IMG Worlds of Adventure, Damac Paramount Towers, Prospect Heights, etc. Empower also signed a Master Development Agreement with Nakheel to serve its Jumeirah Village South (JVS) development. This is a large-scale development that includes Jumeirah Village Triangle and Jumeirah Village Circle and will require a total capacity of 260,000 RT. Empower is currently working towards delivering the first phase of approximately 30,000 RT to JVS project which will commence its services during the year 2017.

Empower has also commenced the operations of its 3rd District Cooling Plant in Business Bay to meet the growing requirements of the development. With these 3 plants, Empower is serving more than 100 buildings in the development, including Al Habtoor City. This plant in Business Bay has 2 large TES (Thermal Energy Storage) tanks which enables us to produce and store chilled water during off-peak hours.

“The financial result of 2016 is a testament of Empower’s continued efforts in effectively managing and executing projects. Over the years, Empower has established its position as the world’s largest district cooling services provider and our qualitative approach and commitment to excellence have helped us to work on massive developmental projects across the emirate of Dubai. As an organisation, we embarked on a new journey working across some of the already existing and prestigious projects by retrofitting their systems and ensuring delivery of efficient cooling services that saves energy,” said HE Bin Shafar.

“Being energy efficient, District Cooling Services market holds great potential- worldwide and in the Middle East specifically. We believe that DCS will significantly contribute in achieving the objectives of Dubai Energy Strategy 2050”, said HE Bin Shafar.

At the end of 2016, Empower had more than 65,000 clients and we strongly believe that we need to continuously strive towards improving our service standards to ensure our clients’ happiness and strengthen the company’s leading position in the market. We had carried out a customer satisfaction survey during the year 2016 and we were extremely happy to see its results and its comparison with utilities worldwide.

The company operates and maintains 69 district cooling plants in various developments of the Emirate of Dubai. In addition, the number of buildings using Empower’s cooling services in 2016 increased to 920 in comparison to 810 in 2015. While Empower continued its journey of success, the company also ensured that it played a vital role in promoting awareness and undertaking initiatives that serve its objectives i.e. raising awareness about the importance of saving energy, preserving natural resources, promoting green economy, etc. One of these initiatives was ’Saving starts at 24 degrees celsius’ which was organised in summer of 2016 to encourage customers to save energy. The campaign witnessed great success and helped to save 8.9 per cent of energy used in district cooling.

Organizing and participating in social and national initiatives

Besides the above, Empower was also a part of various social and national activities in line with its strategy to spread Happiness across the country. Empower organised a series of blood donation campaigns which witnessed a great success among its employees. The company also signed sports sponsorship agreements to support the youth of the UAE and participated in humanitarian activities as well as environmental campaigns for a clean and green future.

In the current year, we expect to continue adding new projects and customers. The strong and healthy economic environment of Dubai reinforces the growth of Empower on the coming years.

Empower currently operates 1.250 Million RT, providing environmentally friendly district cooling services to large-scale real estate developments such as Jumeirah Group, Business Bay, Jumeirah Beach Residence, Dubai International Financial Centre, Palm Jumeirah, Jumeirah Lake Towers, Ibn Battuta Mall, Discovery Gardens, Dubai Healthcare City, Dubai World trade Centre Residences, Dubai Design District, among others.

 

 

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NARUC panelists debate PURPA treatment of renewables

Jasmin Melvin reports for S&P Global about the net effect of PURPA without a consistent policy of tax credit support for the development of CHP and industrial scale waste heat recovery.

Utilities have complained about the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act since it was passed in 1978, but both proponents and detractors view current market dynamics as cause to consider reforming the law or the regulations governing its implementation.

Under the Jimmy Carter-era electricity market policy, utilities must purchase power from qualifying facilities, or QFs, which typically are small cogeneration and renewable power plants that receive special rate and regulatory treatment, at the full avoided cost of replacing that power with other generation. FERC implements and enforces PURPA, while states can tailor their own avoided cost rules, providing a limited exception to FERC’s exclusive authority over wholesale power sales.

Speaking on a panel Feb. 13 at the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners’ winter meetings in Washington, D.C., Irene Kowalczyk, on behalf of the Industrial Energy Consumers of America, said, “For manufacturing, PURPA is just as important today as it was back in 1978.”

Kowalczyk, director of global energy at the differentiated paper and packaging solutions company WestRock Company, asserted that PURPA allowed QFs “to break into the utility monopoly on generation development,” and without the policy, building and operating combined heat and power, or CHP, units economically is very difficult. She noted that CHP and waste heat recovery facilities are not privy to the subsidies offered to renewable energy resources.

“Wind and solar still receive production tax credits and investment tax credit incentives, and they’re encouraged by state [renewable portfolio standard] programs, whereas the industrial CHP and [waste heat recovery] facilities rarely receive these incentives,” she said. “The question that we ask is, do wind and solar still need the protections of PURPA when they are really mainstream in utility [integrated resource plans] and utilities issue [requests for proposals] to acquire these resources.”

CHP, renewables need different treatment

Kowalczyk said the IECA supports “establishing different treatment under PURPA for industrial CHP and waste heat recovery QFs that are not in the primary business of selling power,” along with a handful of other changes to ensure the intended purpose of the law is realized.

In 2005, Congress amended PURPA through a provision in the Energy Policy Act that granted FERC authority to terminate a utility’s legally enforceable obligation to buy power from QFs located in competitive regional markets.

The following year, FERC issued a final rule, RM06-10, establishing a rebuttable presumption that QFs with capacities above 20 MW have nondiscriminatory access to competitive wholesale markets, and utilities in those markets should be relieved of their mandatory purchase obligation.

As a result, Kowalczyk said, “I don’t think any new CHP facilities have been installed in those [regional transmission organization] markets, at least larger ones, because they can’t get the financing because [regional transmission organization] markets don’t provide sufficient compensation that is certain to enable those units to get built.”

She added, “What we’ve seen since the passage of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 is significant reduction in the amount of CHP facilities being built in the country. With regard to renewables, they continue to go forward.”

Utilities have long argued that PURPA, enacted in 1978, requires them to overpay for power they don’t even need to meet electricity demand from their customers. In recent years, these arguments have gained traction with Republican lawmakers who have said that given the substantial changes to the markets, including the boom of cheap natural gas supplies and an ongoing transition in the generation mix away from coal, certain aspects of PURPA, including the imposition of mandatory purchase obligations, may no longer be appropriate.

This spurred FERC to hold a technical conference, AD16-16, in 2016 that produced a mix of perspectives. Those representing utilities advocated for a policy shift away from unconditional purchases and toward purchases based on power system needs; state utility regulators looked for guidance to cut down on QF developers’ ability to game the law by segmenting projects; and power producers eyed a minimum set of parameters for PURPA contracts to mitigate roadblocks to project financing that utilities are increasingly introducing into contract negotiations.

“Notwithstanding the complaint about FERC’s one-mile rule, today’s complaints about PURPA are nothing new and echo complaints made 30 years ago when PURPA was initially implemented,” Ari Peskoe, a senior fellow in electricity law at Harvard Law School, said during the NARUC panel.

Courts, Congress have kept PURPA intact

Peskoe contended that arguments that PURPA is burdening utility customers with unnecessary costs have already been rejected by the courts.

“While Title II [of PURPA] requires rates paid to [QFs] be just and reasonable, the U.S. Supreme Court explicitly rejected utilities’ argument that this requires that rates be at the lowest possible reasonable rate,” Peskoe said.

He noted that FERC’s regulations setting rates at utilities’ full avoided costs were written at a time when generation costs were on an upward trajectory, thus “FERC was well aware that this was going to be a generous rate to QFs.”

He added that the Supreme Court, in upholding FERC’s rules on the matter, agreed with the commission that it was “more important that the full avoided cost rate would provide a significant incentive for the development of QFs and that ratepayers and the nation would benefit from decreased reliance on fossil fuels” than it was for consumers to directly reap savings from the rate.

Peskoe asserted that “PURPA implementation has always been uneven,” but said, “Despite the challenges, the statute’s requirements are still relevant today.”

Further, he suggested that Congress, for the most part, also sees the merits of the law.

“Congress has repeatedly, about 10 times since 1992, passed or renewed renewable tax credits, and by 2005 when Congress amended PURPA, about 20 states had renewable portfolio standards on the books,” he said. “Congress certainly could have allowed for exemptions based on those state requirements or based on some metric of renewable energy procurement, or it could have limited PURPA in exchange for extending the tax credits as it did so many times. But Congress never chose to do that.”

With regard to the 2005 amendment to the law, Peskoe said PURPA’s “success in demonstrating that generation could be a competitive business ultimately led Congress to limit its reach.”

Peskoe also posited that utilities’ perceived abundance of capacity from QFs was a problem of utilities’ own doing.

He cited a Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory study of 12 Western U.S. utilities’ integrated resource plans, which found that “energy consumption growth was overestimated by all but one utility over planning periods beginning in the mid-2000s and ending in 2014. Moreover, peak demand growth was also overestimated in eight of the 11 cases … examined.”

For most of the utilities in the study, their more recent IRPs continued to overestimate demand growth even in the presence of much slower-than-anticipated actual growth. The report released in October 2016 also found that utilities’ acquisition of supply resources generally followed the original planning regardless of observed changes in load.

“When a utility today claims that it has an abundance of QF energy, I suggest it’s worth investigating how the utility’s actions may have contributed to that situation,” Peskoe said.

“To what extent do utilities’ inaccurate load forecasts, failure to account for those mistakes and lack of foresight about the development of renewable energy technologies contribute to their perceived abundance of QF energy? Should utilities be held accountable for these mistakes? How can regulators do so while protecting ratepayers?” Peskoe questioned. “These are obviously not easy questions to answer, but I suggest that they are worth asking.”

FERC ‘agnostic’ to PURPA reforms

Lawrence Greenfield, associate general counsel in FERC’s Office of the General Counsel’s energy markets division, offered during the panel that the commission was “largely agnostic” about changing PURPA.

“Across the commission and certainly among commissioners that I have known, there is very much a strong sense that our job is not to implement the statute people might like or might dislike, but rather to carry out whatever Congress has told us they want to see,” Greenfield said.

“Our view is whatever Congress tells us to do, that’s what the hell we’re going to do, for better or for worse,” he said.

But regarding state utility commissioners’ concerns over avoided cost rates, Greenfield noted that FERC regulations and FERC precedent give the states a lot of discretion.

“I’ve often thought, and this is a personal view, that if the states had a process where on a regular basis they were routinely looking at avoided cost rates, … the states would come up with numbers that are perhaps more representative of the true avoided costs and therefore a better target around which parties could actually negotiate,” he said.

“We’ve given you a skeleton, it’s up to you to flesh it out,” he told state commissioners attending the panel discussion. “Use the skeleton but put the muscle where you want. … I think you’ll come up with a better body of rates.”

Jasmin Melvin is a reporter for S&P Global Platts which, like S&P Global Market Intelligence, is owned by S&P Global Inc.

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Scottish Water reaches renewable power milestone

Water and Wastewater Treatment reports that Scottish Water is facilitating the generation of more renewable power than it consumes for the first time since it launched efforts to reduce its energy bill and increase renewable generation five years ago.

The company requires about 445 Gigawatt hours (GWh) per year across 4,500 sites such as water and wastewater treatment works. This is enough to power nearly 140,000 homes occupied by more than 300,000 people,

Through a combination of Scottish Water’s own investment in renewable energy and hosting private investment on its estate, new figures confirm that the company now generates and hosts more renewable power than it consumes annually and is on course to double this by 2018.

Scottish Water’s increase in renewable power generation, which supports the Scottish Government’s ambitious renewable heat and carbon reduction targets, has been achieved by improving energy efficiency, increasing self-generation and hosting private renewable investment on the company’s estate.

The company’s milestone was welcomed by Roseanna Cunningham, cabinet secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform, who said: “I am delighted that Scottish Water has met this significant milestone. By generating and hosting more renewable power than they consume, they are providing a great example to other companies of how improving energy efficiency and investing in renewable power can have a real impact. For them, renewable power is lowering their electricity bill – helping to keep customers’ water charges low.

“As we consider our current draft Climate Change Plan and consult on Scotland’s draft Energy Strategy, this impressive achievement shows that the government’s ambition to reduce carbon greenhouse gas emissions by 66% by 2032 is realistic. I therefore congratulate Scottish Water on this achievement and hope that their actions provide confidence to other businesses and public sector organizations to invest in renewable power.”

Chris Toop, general manager of Scottish Water’s energy program, said Scottish Water was delighted to have reached this important milestone in its efforts to reduce its energy bill and increase renewable generation. He said: “Every day, Scottish Water provides customers with 1.37 billion liters of drinking water before collecting and treating 921 million liters of waste water. Providing those essential services requires a lot of power but our infrastructure also provides opportunities for us to maximize value from that asset base and fulfill our duty to act sustainably in the delivery of our services.

“We have invested in a number of innovative measures such as low-carbon, low-cost treatment technologies and doubled our renewable energy capacity to more than 54GWh through hydro, wind, photovoltaic solar, biomass boilers and combined heat and power (CHP).”

Toop said Scottish Water has installed more than 4,000 smart meters to target energy opportunities and, in just three years, these have raised the annual financial benefits to more than £7M, cut carbon emissions by 16% since 2006-7 and facilitated more than £330M of private investment on its estate.

“Facilitating more renewable power than we consume makes a significant contribution to keeping the long-term cost of providing vital water and waste water services as low as possible, while supporting national economic, carbon and renewable energy targets,” said Toop.

Dave Thomson, director of finance with Scottish Water Horizons, the utility’s commercial subsidiary which has made a significant contribution to the company’s renewables targets, said: “We have invested £16M in various renewables technologies over the last few years and have committed to invest a further £50M in sustainable energy production, enhancing energy security, job creation and ultimately keeping costs low for customers.”

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Master-planning and future-proofing: making the transition to a low carbon city

An item in Scotland Works addresses the Scottish Renewables Low Carbon Cities Conference in Edinburgh scheduled for Weds., February 22. With regard to focus, the Scottish Cities Alliance said an “Infrastructure-first approach” to energy developments is crucial.

How do we plan and create the infrastructure and regulatory frameworks for smart, sustainable cities of the future? The Alliance’s low carbon officer Amy Braddick will outline how we could do that at the Scottish Renewables Low Carbon Cities Conference in Edinburgh next Wednesday (22 February).

Amy will explore how we alter the existing structural and regulatory infrastructure in our cities to make them ready to adopt renewable and low-carbon solutions. This is Scottish Renewables’ first ever Low-Carbon Cities Conference which aims to explore the wide variety of opportunities for Scotland’s cities to embrace the transition to a sustainable, clean, green economy; reducing energy costs and tackling fuel poverty, while attracting low-carbon investment and jobs, and building Scotland’s industries of the future.

Amy will talk about the Alliance’s vital role leading projects across the seven cities to develop a common approach to district heating in new developments across their planning authorities. This includes a common approach to Local Development Plan policy and supplementary guidance to ensure consistency in messages from the cities on district heating.

To assess whether a new development should be required to take forward district heating, the project has developed an energy statement template to be completed. That enables the developer to highlight the technical and financial parameters they have considered in assessing the viability of district heating at a site. This is not only valuable information which demonstrates consideration of district heat but allows an early stage conversation to be held between the Local Authority and the developer. Where a district heating project is viable for the developer it allows the local authority to understand the details of the project at an early stage, influence its development and where opportunity may exist for retrofit of district heating in adjacent premises.

The Alliance is undertaking the third and final part of this project, to determine how an energy statement would be assessed, to review of the skills and resources in the local authorities to establish who would complete this assessment and what training, skills and resources would be needed to able to do this effectively.

The work completed to date has identified that planning has an important role to play in taking forward, as described in the recent planning consultation, an infrastructure first approach particularly related to energy. What is clear is from this project is that this cannot be done by planning alone. Although the project is not complete, the multi-stakeholder workshops have so far highlighted the need for support for planners, across the skills areas identified, to be able to review an energy statement that is both from in-house staff and from expert organizations.

The Alliance project is timely, as the Scottish Government has released the Local Heat and Energy Efficiency Strategy and District Heating Regulation Consultation which asks for views on bringing forward a regulatory duty for Local Authorities to produce Local Heat and Energy Efficiency Strategies. It is anticipated that these strategies would complement Local Development Plans in an authority area. In addition the Scottish Energy Strategy Consultation requests views on the formation of a Government Owned Energy Company which could among other activity could act to “support existing and new schemes and initiatives”.

The output of the Alliance project will be fed in to the skills and resources questions that are posed in the district heat consultation and will highlight if there is a need for support for activity such as energy statement reviews from the proposed Government Owned Energy Company.

In order to provide a real life context around the opportunities and challenges that these projects offer cities, Alastair Brown, director of infrastructure for Stirling Council will discuss the actions Stirling have undertaken and are planning to undertake including the development of planning for eat and the structures and support that are in place or are required, specifically for a city to take forward this type of planned approach.

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How to assure grid stability while tapping third-party energy sources

The Lexington Institute reports that the California Public Utilities Commission approved a pilot program in December that incentivizes utilities to use more distributed energy resources. These resources are defined as renewable generation sources, energy efficiency, energy storage, electric vehicles, and demand response technologies. As part of the pilot, the utilities must identify where distributed resources can be placed on the grid utilizing a seven step process. Several tools are available to help utilities plan and identify optimal locations on the grid for third-party energy resources.

Currently, the grid is designed to carry electricity one way from centralized generating facilities to consumers. Distributed resources allow for a two-way stream of electricity that offers advantages such as selling electricity to make up for deficiencies in different parts of the grid, but causes some uncertainty. Because the grid is not designed to handle reverse flows of electricity, high levels of distributed resource penetration could exceed energy consumption and cause high-voltage swings. These could harm or put stress on customer equipment such as circuit breakers, and make operation of the distribution system more difficult.

Analyses of multiple scenarios and energy flows moving in many directions across the electric grid need to be conducted to ensure grid stability. Stress testing and faster response times could help relieve concerns and confirm distributed resources are capable of providing electricity. Algorithms could provide fast decision routines and real-time feedback control, but they are not easily tailored to the grid’s unique assets. System complexity is exacerbated by cyber threats.

Planning for third-party energy sources must include assessments of highly volatile supply and demand that result from customer behavior. This is demonstrated by electric vehicles which are expected to become more common, especially in high-income areas with environmentally conscious consumers. As more people need to charge electric vehicles, the peak to average electricity demand could increase, reduce capacity utilization and increase rates depending on when they are charged. If cars are charged when users return home from work, they could significantly add to peak energy consumption, but if electric vehicles are charged overnight energy demand would increase unlike now when it is typically low.

Utilities could use management systems to assess the impacts of distributed resources. Advanced Distribution Management Systems allow utilities to understand conditions across service territory with communication, intelligence, and visibility of the distribution grid in real-time. In addition, the Distributed Energy Resource Management Systems allow utilities to dispatch resources and forecast supply and demand conditions up to 24–48 hours in advance, and integrate data with other utility systems.

Grid operators and distribution utilities need to be able to locate electricity and plan for the grid to operate correctly. However, some distributed energy resources are located “behind the meter,” where the electricity produced is intended for on-site use such as a home or office building. Because operators cannot locate or plan for such resources, regional blackouts could occur where difficulty is experienced meeting energy demand in extreme circumstances. Other distributed resources such as solar and wind power are dependent on weather conditions, and variability can create extreme changes in power output over short periods. Hence, system operators experience difficulty when attempting to match generation load at every moment, potentially creating grid instability.

Data and information are necessary for operators and providers to properly manage the electric grid. Information, such as hosting capacity analysis, interconnection studies, and short and long term operational planning, allow for the optimization of different distributed resources specific to their location on the grid.  Access to other types of information and data also allow regulators to make better decisions about the performance of the distributed system. However, sharing such data requires navigating challenging issues about privacy, security and the market design of the grid.

Increased situational awareness is vital to the stable operation of distributed resources on the grid.  Phasor measurement units utilize sensors to monitor characteristics in small increments, about 30 to 120 samples per second, and are time-stamped and synced with other units to get a clear picture of activity. Such data allow control systems and operators to see disturbances as they begin to develop, analyze the situation in relation to information from other parts of the grid and take corrective action. This data can be used by system operators to anticipate contingencies, reduce the risks of wide-area blackouts, enhance system efficiency and improve system models.

There may be times when a distributed resource is unable to operate or experiences disruption. The pilot program requires utilities to develop contingency plans to allow for uninterrupted flow of quality electricity. Such plans could minimize the economic effects if electricity supply is interrupted. Furthermore, transparency and cross-jurisdictional cooperation between grids along with infrastructure upgrades and new distributed control systems would increase electricity reserves and prevent interruptions.

The success and competitiveness of the U.S. economy is dependent on the uninterrupted flow of quality electricity. Such disruptions come in different forms and durations and are not always predictable or preventable. Utilities in California will increasingly need to utilize analytic tools available to increase situational awareness, and identify optimal locations for distributed resources on the grid. Such instruments will ensure third-party energy resources operate successfully and will help create backup plans to minimize reliability problems.

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The Defining Microgrid Event of 2017

Mark your calendar for the powerhouse microgrid event of the year: Microgrid 2017 Conference & Exhibition, which will be held in Boston, MA, Nov. 6-8, 2017.

Hosted jointly by Microgrid Knowledge, the Microgrid Resources Coalition (MRC) and the International District Energy Association (IDEA), Microgrid 2017 is the one conference no one in the industry should miss.

Microgrid 2017 follows up on Microgrid Knowledge’s highly successful 2016 NY & Beyond conference.

More Information and Registration

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ESG implements energy & water conservation improvements at Naval Air Station Jacksonville, largest Naval installation in SE

Energy and water conservation improvements are currently underway at Naval Air Station (NAS) Jacksonville as part of a $12.6 million project signed in September 2016 and developed by Energy Systems Group (ESG), a leading energy services provider and wholly owned subsidiary of Vectren Corporation (NYSE: VVC), in partnership with TECO Peoples Gas, an Emera Company (TSX: EMA). ESG is a member of the International District Energy Association (IDEA).

Naval Air Station Jacksonville--aerial view looking due west (U.S. Navy photo)

Naval Air Station Jacksonville--aerial view looking due west (Source: https://www.facebook.com/NASJacksonville/photos/)

NAS Jacksonville, one of the Navy’s fastest growing installations, is the largest base in the Navy’s Southeast Region, and the third largest naval installation in the nation. As a master air and industrial base, it supports U.S. and allied forces specializing in anti-submarine warfare and training of the best aviators in the world. Looking to increase energy resiliency in support of its mission and to reduce ashore vulnerabilities, NAS Jacksonville sought upgrades that would decrease energy and water consumption as well as provide improved capability to control its energy supply and distribution.

“This UESC (Utility Energy Service Contract) project represents a critical advancement in support of NAS Jacksonville’s long-standing goal of increasing our energy resiliency,” said NAS Jacksonville Commanding Officer Capt. Sean P. Haley. “We look forward to continuing our efforts to conserve energy while preserving the mission effectiveness of our installation.”

NAS Jacksonville’s energy intensity is expected to be reduced by over 22 percent annually upon completion of project implementation, helping NAS Jacksonville support the Department of the Navy’s overall Shore Energy Management goal of reducing shore energy consumption by 50 percent by 2020.

Estimated to save approximately $14.3 million over the performance period, the project scope includes controls upgrades, high efficiency lighting, transformer upgrades, water conservation measures, and HVAC system upgrades.

“This project is a keystone in NAS Jacksonville’s energy conservation program and it’s expected to save the Navy a substantial amount of energy over the next decade,” said NAS Jacksonville Energy Manager Andrew Rubio. “After this project is constructed, the first year’s energy savings alone (over 30,000 MMBTU) amount to the average annual energy use of more than 800 U.S. homes.”

“The project is also expected to conserve over one million gallons of water annually, or roughly the equivalent of over 625,000 toilet flushes,” Rubio added. “All together, this project should make significant progress for NAS Jacksonville and the Navy toward meeting the Executive Order 13693 mandated targets for energy and water conservation.”

“We are proud to partner with TECO on this innovative project that will increase energy efficiency and resiliency at NAS Jacksonville while modernizing the base’s facilities,” said ESG Senior Vice President Steve Spanbauer. “Along with helping to exceed the Federal Performance Contracting Goal, all of the energy and water infrastructure improvements are paid for from savings; this is good for the U.S. Navy, U.S. business, and the U.S. taxpayer,” added Spanbauer.

Energy Systems Group (ESG), a wholly owned subsidiary of Vectren Corporation (NYSE: VVC), is a leading energy services provider that specializes in energy efficiency, sustainability, and infrastructure improvement solutions in the government, education, healthcare, commercial, and industrial sectors. ESG is strongly positioned to develop projects across the full spectrum of federal contracting opportunities, including Energy Savings Performance Contracts with the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers. ESG is an industry leader in developing and implementing federal government projects under Utility Energy Services Contracts and through public / private partnerships such as Enhanced Use Leases. ESG also offers a full range of sustainable infrastructure solutions including waste-to-energy, distributed generation, and renewable energy. To learn more about ESG, visit www.energysystemsgroup.com.

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Going digital: Con Edison modernizes substation serving NYC: Upgrades at a critical substation following Superstorm Sandy

In a recent feature article published in Transmission & Distribution World, Manuel Pimenta* of Consolidated Edison describes how the utility upgraded a critical downtown substation serving Manhattan. Click the link at the end of this excerpt to access the full feature. The upgrading and hardening of this electrical substation is analogous to the post-Sandy efforts of Consolidated Edison Steam Operations to harden its steam distribution system. ConEd  is a member of the International District Energy Association (IDEA) and will deliver a major presentation on post-Sandy hardening of their steam distribution system at the IDEA Campus Energy Conference, Thermal Distribution Workshop in Miami, FL, Feb 20-21.

This was the moment of truth. On May 8, 2016, the Energy Control Center was about to issue the command to close Breaker 4 and energize the first 345­kV transformer at the East 13 Street substation. At 1:58 p.m. the command was sent, Breaker 4 closed, and the new integrated substation automation and protection system (SAPS) was officially on-line.

A few team members momentarily held their breath as the Breaker 4 command was issued. It was Con Edison’s first time installing and energizing the 345­kV Plug and Switch System (PASS) breaker. In addition, the technicians were also installing a new SAPS, which was completely based on an IEC 61850 fiber­optic architecture. After exhaustive testing and double and triple checks, the breaker operation was anticlimactic. The power came back on, and everything worked as expected.

Hardening a Critical Substation

Eighteen months earlier, Sanjay Bose, the central engineering vice president, had given his team the directive to upgrade and modernize the East 13 Street substation from its 1950′s vintage relay protection system to a state-of-the-art IEC 61850 system. This was a radical departure from the standard design for systems of this type.

It was also going to be perhaps the largest brownfield implementation of its kind: an IEC 61850 protection and automation system in a high-voltage substation serving a critical and high-density metropolitan area. The East 13 Street substation provides power for 220,908 meter customers in Manhattan, which translates to almost 1 million people. Except for the World Trade Center load pocket, all customers south of about 36 Street depend on this substation for their power.

This was dramatically demonstrated during the onslaught and aftermath of Superstorm Sandy. A picture of Manhattan taken that night shows a dark outline south of 36 Street, where normally one would see a dense concentration of lit up buildings and streets. The East 13 Street substation, which is separated from the East River by only a narrow highway, had suffered the brunt of the storm’s fury. It was flooded by the storm surge and was forced off-line.

As a result of Sandy, Con Edison has launched a massive effort to harden the substation against future flooding events. The utility has raised perimeter wall heights around the substation and deployed movable gates, which can be rolled into position and tightened down to effectively seal the substation perimeter against water ingress. In some instances, Con Edison also elevated equipment above expected flood levels and installed an extensive high-­capacity pumping system.  More….

*Manny Pimenta is a senior engineer for Consolidated Edison. He joined the company in 2012 and has more than 20 years of experience with SCADA systems. He also worked for eight years in the defense industry as a test systems engineer and engineering team leader. He was part of the EPRI IEC 61850 test bed project and participated in EPRI’s Transmission and Substation Area Task Force.

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Danfoss and PSU form partnership

Danfoss and the Pennsylvania State University at Philadelphia are partnering to advance sustainable buildings and low-carbon communities. A major grant from Danfoss will support internship program and launch the “Engineering Tomorrow’s Cities” initiative. Both Danfoss and Penn State University are members of the International District Energy Association (IDEA).

Prof. James Freihaut of Penn State and Lisa Tryson of Danfoss

Prof. James Freihaut of Penn State University and Lisa Tryson of Danfoss

Danfoss North America and The Pennsylvania State University at Philadelphia today announced a major grant from Danfoss in support of the Penn State 2017 Immersive Internship in Global Sustainability Practices. The grant marks the launch of a collaborative “Engineering Tomorrow’s Cities” initiative through which Penn State and Danfoss will focus on enlarging the workforce required to create, maintain, and renew sustainable, low-carbon communities; advance the deployment of innovative technologies and designs to reduce carbon emissions; and highlight the important role of engineering in creating the sustainable commercial buildings and communities of tomorrow.

The Internship initiative will be based at Penn State’s building and energy “living laboratory” research facility at the Philadelphia Navy Yard under the direction of Dr. James Freihaut, professor in the Penn State Department of Architectural Engineering. The Department is routinely ranked among the best in the world.

Thirty graduate and undergraduate interns from leading universities around the world are expected to participate in the research project during the summer of 2017. Research topics will include district energy/combined heat and power through a multi-city onsite initiative across Pennsylvania; building/microgrid integration; smart building and demand response technologies; variable speed controls and building equipment; energy storage and building systems and sub-systems integration. Participants will gain tangible work experience on real building efficiency and low-carbon footprint development projects, and be matched with leading public and private sector sustainable development organizations in their home countries for additional and ongoing impact.

“The Engineering Tomorrow’s Cities initiative with Danfoss grew out of our work together for their EnVisioneering Symposium on buildings and energy in June 2016, and our subsequent collaboration to support the work of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe to develop a framework for high performance building standards,” Dr. Freihaut said.

“Danfoss is an invaluable partner with deep expertise in district energy and building technologies that are central to our research,” Dr. Freihaut continued. “Students from many first-class institutions around the world will benefit from their financial and intellectual support, and carry that benefit back to their countries.”

“Supporting this project with Penn State and Dr. Freihaut is a natural fit for Danfoss. We are committed to helping drive energy efficiency and sustainable infrastructure in our cities. We believe innovation is key; many technologies exist today, but we also need to take a holistic approach to understand the nexus between innovation, policy, and financial incentives in order to move forward,” commented Lisa Tryson, director of corporate communications for Danfoss North America.

The Engineering Tomorrow’s Cities project will leverage the educational and research capacities of Penn State to serve as a catalyst for international collaboration among future global sustainability/low-carbon community leaders in industry, government, and the research communities. It aims to create public-private sector partnerships on a global basis to address some of the world’s most urgent resource and environmental concerns.

Results from the initiative will be the subject of workshops at Penn State, a Danfoss EnVisioneering Symposium to be held at the Philadelphia Navy Yard in 2018, and a culminating report issued by the participating students.  For more information, visit www.danfoss.us.

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Tapping into underground urban heat islands

Peter Rüegg reports from ETH Zurich (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich) that cities are heat islands – not only above ground but below ground too, and therein lies the enormous potential to better harness this energy through geothermal heat exchangers. A group of researchers demonstrated this in a case study conducted in the city of Zurich and published by Elsevier.

Cities and densely built-up areas are warmer than their environs. This is particularly noticeable on hot summer days, when the heat builds up between the buildings and streets radiate sweltering heat. The air outside the city is often noticeably cooler.

But cities are not just heat islands on the surface; the ground below built-up areas is too. The heat dissipates into the ground through the streets, cellars, underground garages and sewers. This heat input can be considerable; for example, in the city of Zurich, 20 meters underground, it is several degrees warmer than at the same depth outside the city.

Heat input regenerates the natural reservoir

In an article published in the journal Renewable Energy, a group of researchers, including ETH earth scientist Jaime Rivera, demonstrated that these subterranean heat islands harbour an as yet untapped potential source of energy production. This potential could be tapped with systems already used for the collection of geothermal heat.

Thus, Rivera and his colleagues used a model to calculate that the potential for the use of geothermal heat in urban areas is much greater than in rural areas due to the island effect – up to 40 percent higher.

The extra heat stored in the ground also regenerates the natural heat reservoir in the soil, which can be tapped using geothermal heat exchangers. By exploiting only the underground thermal energy surplus, geothermal systems in urban areas can be used for longer periods and more intensively than if only natural heat is used. “If the use of surplus geothermal heat is moderately intensive, the waste heat from urban structures is sufficient even to regenerate the natural heat reservoir,” says Rivera, lead author of the study.

More energy, shallower drilling

Thanks to the surplus heat input, more thermal energy could be collected from the ground and the length of the drill holes shortened. “Each additional degree Celsius at the urban ground surface means the borehole required to collect the same amount of energy can be four meters shorter,” explains the earth scientist.

In order to test their model, developed to calculate the heat usage potential, the researchers used an example from the Zurich metropolitan area. In addition to the increased heat flux from the island effect, they also included atmospheric warming due to climate change.

“Our findings will be helpful in the planning of geothermal energy systems in areas with elevated soil temperatures,” says Peter Bayer, who is leading the study. Cities also have other heat sources that contribute to soil warming, such as tunnels, sewers and district heating systems. “But since all these heat sources are artificial, strictly speaking we’re not exploiting a naturally renewable energy source,” emphasizes Bayer.

Geothermal heat

Geothermal heat pump systems are the most common type of geothermal technology in Switzerland, normally with boreholes of about 150 metres – even deeper in cities. A heat exchanger – usually two U-shaped pipes through which a fluid circulates – is installed in the borehole. This fluid absorbs heat from the ground and then transports it to the surface. An (electric) heat pump uses the thermal energy in a building to heat rooms and process water.

Reference
Rivera JA, Blum P, Bayer P. Increased ground temperatures in urban areas: Estimation of the technical geothermal potential. Renewable Energy 103 (2017) 388-400, doi: 10.1016/j.renene.2016.11.005

  • a ETH Zürich, Department of Earth Sciences, Sonneggstrasse 5, 8092 Zurich, Switzerland
  • b Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), Institute for Applied Geosciences (AGW), Kaiserstraße 12, 76131 Karlsruhe, Germany
  • c Ingolstadt University of Applied Sciences, Ingolstadt, Germany
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