Chair's Update 1st Quarter 2018

By Chris Lyons posted 01-16-2018 11:19

I am sure you’ve noticed time does not wait for anyone; it just keeps ticking forward as we move through the seasons. From my perspective – as I am sure from yours – the demands on our time are continually stressed by the variety of changes and multitude of new things occurring around us. Fortunately during these times of continuous change and some uncertainties we have a consistent, reliable go-to resource: the International District Energy Association.

IDEA again provided an outstanding conference with Microgrid 2017 this past November in Boston. The event brought in new members and technologies as we embrace the exciting revitalization to our electricity supply infrastructure that microgrids are sparking. This development in our industry is why we are working with the Microgrid Resources Coalition – to assure our IDEA members are heard as electric utilities move into the new era of adapting to distributed energy resources. Our association feels it is important to educate those making decisions and providing funding for these changes that our energy supply is more than just a one-way flow of electrons through wires: Heating and cooling are also a big part of the energy picture.

The shift to distributed energy is one of the reasons I have chosen for my term as IDEA chair the theme of “District Energy/ CHP: Local Solution, Global Impact.” We are well-positioned to address these changes thanks to our ability to utilize CHP and to tap a variety of fuels including natural gas, biomass, municipal waste and even coal in ways that are highly efficient – ultimately one of the best ways of reducing our carbon footprint. At the conference we heard examples of how our members are successfully responding to change, and there will be more great stories at the upcoming CampusEnergy2018 conference March 5-9, 2018, in Baltimore. This will be an impressive event revealing a host of applications, case studies and innovations that relate to your business and operations. I hope you will be in attendance as these valuable topics are discussed.

While IDEA is an international association with members from 22 countries, there is little doubt that an important segment of our membership is our campus members from across North America. Not only are they using proven technologies like natural gas-fired CHP at places like Harvard and MIT, but they are also at the forefront of innovation using new microgrid technologies, battery storage and renewable fuels. Examples of this can be seen at the University of San Diego in my hometown. While the campus energy system uses natural gas-fired CHP as its primary resource, it also has fuel cells using digester gas from the local wastewater treatment plant, energy storage not only from batteries but also chilled-water storage, and a host of rooftop photovoltaic panels taking advantage of our many days of sunshine.

During this past quarter, the IDEA staff has again been hard at work. In addition to their ongoing collaboration with the Microgrid Resources Coalition, I hope you have seen the new IDEA website with its improved search functions and recently launched IDEA Connect networking forum. I have always felt one of the best attributes of our organization is the willingness of our members to share and help each other with ideas and experiences. This can be seen in the exchange of information on IDEA Connect. If you have not joined this networking opportunity, I would highly encourage you to give it a try.

I hope you enjoy this edition of the District Energy magazine. As always, your participation and support of IDEA is greatly appreciated. I look forward to seeing everyone this March in Baltimore.