The Fifth Fuel: Energy Efficiency
The debate over the right mix of sustainable and affordable energy rages on every day, most often balancing the pros and cons of coal, hydrocarbon (petroleum/natural gas), nuclear, and renewable energy sources.
But energy efficiency is increasingly considered a fifth fuel in that equation, and for good reason.
“Energy saved is as good as new energy made,” said Brad Pietras, Lockheed Martin vice president of technology. “We can address many energy problems today by applying technology to how we manage, store and distribute the energy that is available to us.”
Smart Meters Make Smart Grids
Smart grid technologies are helping utilities transition aging architectures and stove-piped systems to tightly integrated power and communication networks, changing the way we manage our power supply.
But implementing smart grid solutions can be as much an organizational challenge as a technical one.
“Utilities deploying smart meters and incorporating new distributed energy sources quickly understand the need to more accurately measure and manage voltage on their secondary networks, enabling them to better manage their electric generation or purchased power portfolio,” said Roger Flanagan, director of energy services at Lockheed Martin.
A partnership with Dominion Voltage, for example, is transforming the way we distribute and monitor power to local homes by using algorithms to determine and distribute only needed energy – reducing energy 2-4 percent across the entire coverage region.
“Combining Dominion’s expertise in distribution networks with our systems integration experience is resulting in near-immediate benefits for utility customers – which translates to smarter, more efficient energy across the grid,” said Flanagan.
Beyond the Grid
Technology has also driven energy efficiency programs within homes, offices and other building – from green lighting designs to reduce usage; to reconfigured shop floors to maximize energy efficiency; to adding smart information technology products to understand on-site consumption patterns for better, more informed choices.
“Everyone wins through energy conservation,” said Frank Armijo, vice president of energy solutions at Lockheed Martin. “When a government organization, utility or business goes green, they not only save money, but they pass potential cost savings on to their customers.”
The U.S. Department of State is one federal agency leading the conservation charge.
“We are working with the State Department in Nicaragua to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and reliance on foreign energy by more than 50 percent through lighting, transformer and chiller plant upgrades to the U.S. Embassy,” said Armijo. “And adding on-site energy generation both increases security and reduces the risk of cost volatility for energy over the next 25 years.”
Off the Grid
As local generators and renewable energy sources continue to come online, intelligent microgrid solutions are providing utility customers the capability to operate connected or independent of the public electrical grid.
“Intelligent microgrids act as an optimization system that determine if it is too costly to pull from the grid or if the system is not receiving enough energy,” said Jim Gribschaw, director of energy programs at Lockheed Martin.
Intelligent control technology can also instantly analyze power disruption and route available energy to essential locations, enabling vital areas to remain operational.
When faced with a power grid failure or natural disaster, the system ensures power quality is maintained, seamlessly transitioning from a grid-tied mode to an independent, or island, mode.
“Microgrids are the key to an energy efficient and secure future for sites such as defense installations, hospitals, universities, commercial businesses and industrial sites,” said Gribschaw.
Learn more about our smart energy solutions.
January 21, 2014
- Energy efficiency is increasingly considered a fifth fuel.
- Smart grid technologies are helping utilities transition aging architectures to tightly integrated power and communication networks.
- Intelligent control technology can also instantly analyze power disruption and route available energy to essential locations, enabling vital areas to remain operational.