Energy Intelligence, Research & Development
AESC provides a full complement of technical and management services that help energy investors identify and evaluate energy technology targets of opportunity. Growing energy demand, aging infrastructure, and the availability of new technologies all contribute to a climate of increasing opportunities for the deployment of new power generation, energy distribution, and innovative end-use energy technologies.
Knowledgeable investors (e.g., utilities, regulators, government agencies, and venture capitalists) leverage these opportunities through strategic technology development, market incentive designs, and orderly product introduction. AESC engineers assist private and public agencies in all phases of investment project development.Some examples of AESC's energy technology assessment services include:
Opportunity Surveying & Screening
For those investors interested in identifying potential technology targets, AESC uses proprietary methods to survey and screen technologies. In doing so, AESC considers the objectives of each investor to achieve maximum results.
Technology Feasibility Assessment
For specific technologies, AESC performs a complete technology assessment uncovering not only problem areas, but also unforeseen value. We work with technology developers in a process known as "Technology Scrubbing" which highlights technology capabilities and limitations.
Many promising technologies can be market-limited by high price. AESC conducts detailed examinations and testing of cost forecast elements for targeted technologies. This analysis assesses the potential of the developer or manufacturer to reach cost targets within the development time frame.
Proof of concept or field demonstration of an energy technology is essential in establishing potential market value. AESC provides unequaled expertise in the design and execution of field demonstrations of advanced end-use and power-generation technologies.
Before investing in a technology, investors must first understand its market viability. Challenges in the energy industry open new doors and raise interest in energy efficiency, renewable, and smart metering. AESC's market analyses determine the appropriate application for a technology and provide essential information on estimated size, growth, and competition.
Technology Progress Verification
For those who have already invested in a particular technology, AESC provides monitoring and reporting services during the transition from product development to commercial roll-out, thereby reducing risk through early warning and remedy action.
Integrated Information Management
Complex contracts with multiple participants often require a coordinated management effort to move developing technologies forward as a viable product. By leveraging its technological knowledge, AESC provides key services to integrate the management of business deals involving investors, developers, manufacturers, distributors, and customers.
The following project descriptions were selected to show the breadth of AESC's experience in this area.
Steam Turbine Generator Performance Diagnostics
AESC provided engineering support to diagnose Sithe Energy's Naval Station combine cycle plant's 10 MW steam turbine generator's performance. AESC collected data from Naval Station's DCS and analyzed the thermodynamic efficiency of the turbine generator. AESC's recommendations will save Sithe nearly a $100,000 a year in fuel cost and lost revenues from existing SO-4 contracts.
Distillation System & Cooling Tower Additions
AESC provided engineering and design support for installation of additional cooling tower capacity and a packaged water distillation unit at Sithe's Naval Station combine cycle plant. These systems will enhance the plant's performance and lower operating costs while maintaining the plant's qualified facility status. AESC provided the thermo hydraulic analysis and equipment sizing as well as engineering design support and construction management for the project.
Evaluation of Self-Generation for Energy Efficiency Programs
Under a contract with the California Board of Energy Efficiency (CBEE), AESC evaluated self-generation alternatives as a potential component of future California energy efficiency programs. Self-generation technologies evaluated included fuel cells, renewable fuel and conventional power plant technologies. Policy, energy balance and economic impacts were analyzed and reported. Recommendations to the CBEE included program designs for self-generation, eligible self-generation technologies and targeted customer classes and applications.
Hong Kong Renewal Energy Study
AESC was part of a team of experts that studied the application of renewable energy systems in Hong Kong. AESC provided expertise in renewable fueled power generation including fuel cells. The study was funded by the Hong Kong government and Camp Dresser McGee is the prime contractor.
PEM Fuel Cell Technology and Market Assessment
Under a contract with Ticona Celanese, AESC developed current state of the technology and market forecasts for stationary Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) fuel cell technologies. Domestic and international PEM developers were identified. Engineered polymer applications targeted within the PEM fuel cell plants along with estimated market value resulting from improved performance, reliability or reduced cost.
Strategic Technology Assessment
AESC performed a broad scoping study that identified key technologies that will have great impact on San Diego Gas and Electric's (SDG&E) utility business. Technologies screened included distributed generation, broadband & wireless telecommunications, advanced large gas turbines, flexible AC transmission and hybrid vehicles. Results were presented to SDG&E board of directors for approval of technology business subsidiary.
Survey of Emission Control Technologies for Gas Turbines and Reciprocating Engines
AESC assisted Resource Catalysts / Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) with development of a database of nationwide air quality permitting and emissions control requirements for gas turbines and natural gas-fired and diesel reciprocating engines. Information regarding permitting and emissions control requirements was gathered through a nation wide telephone survey of each air quality control district within in each state.
Distributed Generation Technology & Market Assessment
As part of AmerenUE's integrated resource planning effort, AESC identified market applicable DG technologies, gathered performance and cost characteristics, and developed market penetration scenarios for different incentive program designs. As part of the project, AESC surveyed DG incentive programs and developed prototype designs for AmerenUE. DG technologies, fuels and markets were screened for customer economic feasibility and, utilizing customer load and demographic data, market potentials and adoption rates were developed. Results were presented to AmerenUE stakeholders, which included regulators, environmental groups and consumer protection organizations.
AESC works to develop new and innovative technologies that enhance the ability of our customers to buy and sell energy, monitor supply and demand, and monitor and maintain systems.
A changing regulatory environment and increased security concerns have energized the electric power industry at home and abroad. Electric utility companies realize that improved productivity is essential to their long-term survival. As the electric power industry quickly evolves into an interconnected network of distributed resources, new technology is needed to facilitate electronic commerce within the utility industry.
AESC energy industry technology development efforts progress on several fronts to keep clients competitive in this increasingly complex market environment. Strategies include:
The staff at AESC believes that intelligent software agent technology plays a key role in a competitive market. Intelligent software agents communicate with their users and each other, helping to expedite transactions on a variety of platforms. To this end, AESC has advanced agent technology in three areas. First, AESC developed its Smart*DER intelligent agent software. Smart*DER agent-based software monitors site and equipment operation and schedules operation of distributed energy resources in response to external market signals. Second, AESC developed the "Power Neighborhood" concept under a DOE-funded SBIR project that demonstrated how intelligent agents, operating in an open auction environment, can quickly and efficiently aggregate site loads and facilitate site responses to system disturbances. And third, AESC has developed and demonstrated an agent-based approach for coordinating renewable generation, storage and subtransmission system assets. Additional information on AESC agent technology can be found at our dedicated website www.smartder.com.
Customized VB, Excel, and Access Interface Development
Improved access and use of energy-related information is essential to both utility companies and their customers. AESC develops and maintains customized Visual Basic, Excel, and Access applications for use in the energy industry. These applications facilitate data entry, calculation, and viewing of energy use, cost, and savings associated with energy saving equipment.
AESC developed and maintains the Standard Performance Contract (SPC) software used by California utilities and their customers to estimate and report savings associated with energy saving measures.
AESC developed custom Excel and Access applications that facilitate data entry, calculation of energy savings, and tracking of utility programs that promote installation of energy saving equipment.
Custom Java-based Applications for Interactive Data Display
AESC software engineers develop Web-based data display and manipulation software such as "Ruby on Rails."
AESC has worked with the California Energy Commission and the Department of Energy on a variety of applications, which are described in the following project descriptions.
Intelligent Software Agents for Scheduling of Distributed Generation
In anticipation of the dynamic electric markets that was to be the key feature of the newly deregulated California electric marketplace; the California Energy Commission (CEC) awarded AESC a contract in 1998 to explore using intelligent agent technology to control distributed generation (DG) assets. The resulting project was successful in demonstrating that agent technology could be used to schedule DG assets in response to market price signals. Demonstration software, developed as part of the project, showed how an agency of Smart*DER agents could collaborate to routinely collect the necessary inputs (i.e., pricing, weather data, etc.) and generate operating schedules that maximized the benefit of DG operation.
Demonstration of Intelligent Software Agents for Control & Scheduling of Distributed Energy Resources
The deregulated California electric marketplace was subsequently replaced by a newly regulated market with a strong emphasis on customer demand response and on efficient energy use. Understanding that Smart*DER technology could be useful in this new marketplace, the CEC awarded AESC a follow-on contract in 2000 to demonstrate Smart*DER technology in a "real-world" environment. During this project AESC updated and refined the Smart*DER agents in response to the evolving California marketplace and installed a Smart*DER system at the Los Angeles County Sanitation District's Calabasas landfill. The Smart*DER based control operated successfully to schedule DER asset operation in response to a Critical Peak Pricing (CPP) further demonstrating the utility of Smart*DER technology.
Distributed Intelligent Agents for Decision Making at Local DER Levels
AESC received a 2003 Department of Energy Small Business Innovative Research grant to study application of agent technology to integration of distributed generation into the distribution system. During this effort, AESC worked closely with the Center for Networked Distributed Energy at Colorado State University to identify a hierarchy of intelligent agents needed for electric grid system control. At the distribution system level, this hierarchy of collaborating agents was termed a Power Neighborhood. AESC developed demonstration software that showed how a hierarchy of agents, working via a web-based auction process could routinely schedule operation of their DER assets in response to market prices or, if needed quickly reconfigure operation of their DER assets in response to a signal indicating eminent loss of power to their distribution feeder.
Agents for Renewables
The California Energy Commission (CEC) and the California ISO (CAISO) recognized that the planned construction of new/upgraded transmission facilities in the Tehachapi region of California will be unable to support the construction of new wind generation facilities in the next five to ten years. The goal of the CAISO is to deliver as much energy as possible from these renewable resources by taking advantage of all spare capacity available on the transmission system without exceeding the ratings of the facilities. Wind generation is an intermittent resource with the amount of energy available varying from minute to minute. Likewise, the available transmission capacity will also vary from minute to minute. The CAISO desired a solution that enhances both the visibility and dynamic control of these intermittent resources. To this end, the CEC awarded a contract to AESC to successfully apply and demonstrate that agent technology, when used with storage expands the potential delivery of renewable energy and increases the capacity and use. In this recently completed project AESC demonstrated that intelligent agent technology could successfully coordinate the energy production and delivery from wind generation resources in the Tehachapi region of California. During the 2-month demonstration phase of the project a multi-agent system successfully collaborated to gather and process SCE SCADA data in real time, developed recommendations for capacitor bank operation, storage system operation and wind curtailment. Agent recommendations for 100 kW Beacon Power flywheel storage system operation were implemented via agent control. The project successfully demonstrated that local, dynamic control control using agent technology could utilize storage more fully to address both global and local needs.
CEC Energy Innovation Small Grant Program Support
AESC was a member of California Energy Commission's Energy Innovation Small Grant Program Technical Review Board (EISG PTRB) and provides technical assistance for program design and project awards portfolio management. This program provides grants to developers of energy technologies including those in energy efficiency. As a PTRB member, AESC reviews and awards grant proposals according to EISG program goals and milestones. Currently AESC is working closely with program administrators in developing an EISG program framework for portfolio management of the grant awards.Additional information on AESC agent technology can be found at our dedicated website www.smartder.com.