Leading Electrical Engineering Journal Envisions +25% Energy Efficiency Without Major Capacity Boost; Proposes Framework to Integrate Electric Vehicles Into Power Systems

Industry Complexity Cited as Key Roadblock to Energy Progress

Jan 19, 2011, 09:15 ET from IEEE

PISCATAWAY, N.J., Jan. 19, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Our nation's power industry is too complex to hope for major resource innovations according to a special January update on Network Systems Engineering in Proceedings of the IEEE, the world's leading journal in electrical engineering and computer science since 1913. Because new energy resources are unlikely, the issue takes on the challenge of demonstrating how efficiencies as high as 25 percent are achievable with no increases in capacity or resources just by using and delivering existing power more efficiently.

Published by the IEEE, the world's largest technical professional association, this issue tackles the topics of why we need new operating paradigms to determine how we can more efficiently deliver and utilize power and also describes the information and the software needed to collect critical data.

Several papers address the future of Electric Vehicles (EV). One entitled, "Integration of Electric Vehicles in the Electric Power System" illustrates the tremendous challenges that large deployments of EVs will impose on the operation and management of electric power systems of the future and provides a framework for testing EV fleets before extending to the general public.

Among the solutions to achieving increased efficiencies in usage and delivery of our existing power supplies addressed in this issue is the identification of embedded intelligence and new software that will enable us to obtain this intelligence.

To facilitate greater efficiencies, functionality information is needed that can enable orderly power performance based on real time information about power needs. Called "just-in-time (JIT), just-in-place (JIP)"energy delivery, JIT is similar to Just-in-time (JIT) inventory strategies used by manufacturers to reduce in-process inventory and associated carrying costs. With (JIT) and (JIP) in the management of our power supplies, with the right information, we can deliver power to users when it is needed based on accurate usage projections, leaving power available at times for others with greater need.

According to the research, no single technology, hardware and/or software is likely to meet the future needs for energy. The producers of primary energy have entered the race for making traditional energy resources cleaner and safer and for coming up with scientific breakthroughs for entirely new energy resources. There has also been an increasing awareness that traditionally passive energy consumers have a larger role to play than in the past. However we lack the infrastructure to integrate and transport these new energy resources effectively because the infrastructure for converting primary energy and delivering it in a form required by the end users was designed with qualitatively different objectives in mind from the functionalities which are likely to be needed even in the near future. This infrastructure is also aging and far from what it should and could become given technological advances.

"Simply building hardware for renewable generators and the smart grid, but using the same operating paradigm of the grid, will not realize the full potential for overall system efficiency and carbon reduction" cautions the authors of the paper "Smart Operation of Smart Grid: Risk-Limiting Dispatch," one of 13 papers in this issue. "Rather we must create a new operating paradigm called risk limiting dispatch that uses information and control to design hedging techniques to manage the risk of uncertainty."

Although this issue coincides with exciting times when energy and the environment are on everyone's mind, the conditions in today's industry combined with various technological, economic and regulatory driving forces, have led to unprecedented industry complexity.

Recently investments have been made by governments worldwide to demonstrate proof-of-concept and the feasibility of deploying some of the new infrastructure technologies. Unfortunately, it cannot be assumed that large-scale penetration of the most promising solutions would take place once the feasibility of these technologies has been demonstrated on relatively small pilot projects. On the contrary, the initial conditions in today's industry, combined with various technological, economic and regulatory driving forces, have led to unprecedented industry complexity.

"It has therefore become increasingly complex to meet energy goals by attempting to deploy hardware and software innovations within today's industry in accordance with its practice, policies and standards.  In this issue a case is made for new practices based on dynamic multi-layered and interactive decision-making and information exchange. This enables integration of distributed technical and financial choices by different industry participants with the social objectives at value.  The implementation will require a wholesale redesign of communications, control, computing and policies within the industry," points out Dr. Marija D. Ilic, guest editor of the January Proceedings of the IEEE issue and Professor of Electrical & Computer Engineering and Engineering & Public Policy, Carnegie Mellon University.