Distributed Energy Resource Management Systems
“How can we create a central management system for distributed energy resources?”
Without a doubt, distributed energy resources are the way of the future. With their ability to efficiently generated clean and renewable energy in optimal locations, they can make a truly sustainable civilization possible. However, if left unregulated, they can wreak havoc on the grid, and destroy an efficiency associated with them. So how can we use our engineering mindsets to solve this problem? Well, what if we were to create a centralized control system that could monitor and actuate upon these systems? Well, this is the main idea behind Distributed Energy Resource Management Systems, and are a very hot topic for the future of energy research!
Distributed Energy Resources
“How can we have true localized energy generation?”
In the past, most energy was generated through large, expensive and environmentally intensive engineering projects such as nuclear power plants and steam boiler systems. But with the advent of renewable energy, such infrastructure can now be rendered obsolete. Since Renewable energy sources can work with a few separated units and does not cause drastic environmental harm, they can be positioned close to homes and offices. As such we can realize something known as Distributed Energy Resources, which will explode in the coming years!
“How can we measure a car’s fuel efficiency?”
Cars are some of the most ubiquitous machines in the world. However, most of them are also powered by liquid petroleum, and since there is a myriad of different models they all consume this material at a different rate. So how can we create a measure of this efficiency? Well, if we use our engineering mindsets, then we will realize that we can standardize everything by seeing how much fuel is consumed per unit of distance, therefore creating something known as Fuel Economy. Fuel economy is affected by multiple factors, including onboard appliances, environmental conditions, and engine design. The better the fuel economy, the more sustainable the vehicle is.
Energy Storage in Buildings
“Is there a problem with renewable energy and buildings?”
Renewable energy has large implications for building energy use. However, one of the major problems is that it had difficulty being integrated into the grid systems, as all of the energy comes in as an active form. Therefore, we must consider how to integrate energy storage in buildings, whether it be through batteries or other devices.
Building Integrated Photovoltaics
“How can we directly integrate photovoltaics into a building?”
Solar photovoltaic panels have revolutionized energy as we know it. And since buildings are some the highest consumers of energy, it would only be logical that panels be applied to them. But PV systems can be big and clunky and take up a lot of room.
Or do they have to?
Novel breakthroughs have resulted in the creation of a technology known as Building Integrated Photovoltaics (BIPs). These systems are directly integrated into the building envelope, allowing for much more flexible use. They can be put directly on rooftops, applied to the sides, or even constructed as transparent windows! However, there are numerous factors to consider when using building integrated photovoltaics. Shading may occur from other edifices, there may be deposition from weather, and a proper tilt angle depending on the geographic location must all be considered. Despite this, BIPs are an excellent foray for humanity into greater sustainability.
Deepwater source cooling
“How can we use nature to make an efficient AC system?”
Many HVAC systems work by using chilled water to control the built environment. However, chilling this water can expend a massive amount of energy, as can providing a reliable heat sink. So how can we use our engineering mindset to make this system more efficient? Well, if we were to take our water from a source that is already chilled and use it as a heat sink, we will be able to have massive energy savings. One source of very cold water comes from deep water areas, such as lakes and oceans. So what if were to simply use this chilled water for our system? Well, this is known as deep water source cooling and is a most innovative way to solve the heat-energy problem. An example of these systems in action is Cornell University’s Lake Source Cooling project in Ithaca, New York.
“How do we evaluate buildings after they have been built and used?”
Modern Buildings are designed to function in a certain way. However, after they have been built, unforeseen factors can disrupt things and cause inefficiencies. So how can we evaluate buildings in an effective and rigorous manner after they have been constructed? Well, after many years of research, building professionals in both the U.S and Scotland have developed something called a Post-Occupancy Evaluation, which involves authorized individuals to arrive onsite an perform audits. Once an evaluation has been done, further action can be commenced to bring the unit to full operation