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Smart-Grid Power Analytics Software Addresses Alternate Energy Sources

Tue, 01/05/2010 - 5:52am

SAN DIEGO, Calif.  – EDSA, a leading developer of power analytics solutions for the design, testing, and management of complex electrical power systems, today unveiled its Paladin SmartGrid software platform, a new software solution that removes a major obstacle to the widespread use of alternative energy. Paladin SmartGrid is a “master controller” enabling the use of on-premise and distributed energy sources – such as solar, wind, or local co-generation – without jeopardizing the reliability of the legacy utility grid.

Paladin SmartGrid is now nearing final testing at an undisclosed customer site, and is scheduled to be commercially released by the second quarter of 2010 – far ahead of the timeline that industry experts envisioned such vital technology becoming available. For example, industry analysts at the Galvin Initiative – authors of the book “Perfect Power: How the Microgrid Revolution Will Unleash Cleaner, Greener, More Abundant Energy” – envisioned that “a fully functional master controller for micro grids does not yet exist,” noting that development of such a sophisticated platform could take “3 to 5 years.” But by basing Paladin SmartGrid on Paladin Live – already deployed and proven in financial data centers, FAA facilities, public power grids, and other mission-critical operations – EDSA was able to bring the technology to market far faster than previously thought possible.

“There have been numerous private sector and university development efforts undertaken to create the type of software master controller required to orchestrate the complex, changing energy needs of a modern mission-critical campus,” said Kurt Yeager, Executive Director of the Galvin Electricity Initiative, and co-author of “Perfect Power. “It would appear that Paladin Live provides precisely the type of detailed functionality needed to allow vital Smart Grid Demonstration efforts to take their work to the next level for broad commercial application.”

From Promising to Practical

Industry watchers estimate that between $100-165 billion will be invested in modernizing and “adding intelligence” to power grids across the United States over the next 20 years, resulting in a flexible, easy-to-manage nationwide “Smart Grid.” More than $33 billion has been included in the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act for Smart Grid, energy management, renewable energy, and related energy projects. A significant focus in these new programs involves Distributed Energy Resource (DER) systems, or “microgrids,” because – rather than relying solely on public power grids – they are intended to make standalone facilities both autonomous and integrated in order to enhance system efficiency, reduce overall energy costs, without degrading system reliability.

A major hurdle in the deployment of this renewable and distributed generation technologies lies in how to monitor and control consumption and demand, and effect seamless real-time “switchovers” from one source to another. Paladin SmartGrid is the first commercially-available software platform to enable the on-line management and control of next-generation “hybrid” power infrastructure incorporating both traditional utility power and on-premise power generation, e.g., co-generation, solar power, wind turbines, battery storage, etc.

Paladin SmartGrid optimizes energy consumption on site employing multiple energy sources, whether they are focused on a single objective – such as minimizing annual energy cost, carbon footprint, peak load, or public utility consumption – or a combination of objectives that vary by time, costs, energy source reliability, etc.

As organizations increasingly seek to supplement their utility power with on-premise power generation, Paladin SmartGrid:

  • Serves as a master controller for intelligent microgrid designs, monitoring and electricity trading (i.e., selling power back into the public grid)
  • Monitors the microgrid’s power quality, utilization and capacity in real-time, in order to offer excess capacity to the Smart Grid
  • Monitors all transactions between public electric service and microgrid infrastructure
  • Maintains rate and pricing information for management of private-public exchange

For example, if a facility were to install on-premise solar panels, wind turbines, or co-generation capabilities, and use those sources to charge large on-site battery storage – while attempting to use public utility power as sparingly as possible – it becomes increasingly difficult to ensure power system reliability. Since inherently episodic energy sources may be unavailable when needed, a real-time balancing act is essential to ensure energy savings and environmental goals are met, while at the same time, guaranteeing that local-loop-wide power systems reliability is never jeopardized.

Paladin SmartGrid is inherently designed to monitor and enable management of the dynamic nature, and inherently lower power “quality” feature of alternative energy sources, to meet both energy management goals, and the high levels of availability and reliability. Paladin SmartGrid “remembers” the business and operational goals of a facility – e.g., only use utility power during off-peak hours, except when system reliability falls below 99.99% – and is continually diagnosing system performance in real-time while making intelligent predictions about how to seamlessly transition from one energy source to another. 

“If America is going to be successful in using alternative energy sources to address the fragility of the national power grid, microgrids are an essential part of the solution,” said Mark A. Ascolese, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of EDSA. “Not only do microgrids alleviate the risk of a region-wide power outage on the scale of the 2003 Northeast Blackout, but they enable formerly pure energy consumers to also become energy producers.”

“Of course, the real challenge in microgrids is controlling the transition from one energy source, or one energy management system, to another without putting the reliability of the microgrid at risk; power-wise, it is the ultimate high-wire balancing act.” Ascolese noted. “This in an area where Paladin SmartGrid is uniquely suited, because it continually applies expert intelligence to both real-time power data and the original design model of a microgrid, so the operator is assured that his power infrastructure is performing precisely as it was designed to, and that any foreseeable changes in operating conditions are already planned for.”

“Microgrids won’t do away with central power generation and transmission facilities,” he concluded. “Instead, just as desktop computers work in concert with corporate data centers via a secure network, local microgrids will enable a cooperative, distributed, and synergistic energy solution that reduces energy costs, waste, and environmental hazards.”

For more information about smart microgrids and the Galvin Electricity Initiative, visit www.galvinpower.org/microgrids and follow http://twitter.com/perfectpower.

For more information about EDSA and its products, visit www.edsa.com.   

 

 

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