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Top 10 Utility of the Future blog posts (January–April 2014)

Happy May 1st! Today, we’d like to share the top 10 posts on the Utility of the Future blog from January–April 2014. Throughout the last few months, DNV GL experts shared insights and guidance on a number of hot topics from renewable energy, energy storage, cyber security, competitive retail markets, and energy efficiency. We invite you to read, respond, and share your expertise and experiences throughout this knowledge community. In case you missed them, here are the top 10 posts from January–April 2014:

1. Nest Learning Thermostats: A good fit for commercial buildings?
A staple of residential and commercial energy efficiency programs, programmable thermostats provide a basic level of control over energy use, comparable in functionality to lighting timers and occupancy sensors. According to the US Department of Energy, programmable thermostats can save 5% to 15% on annual heating and cooling bills. But they have to be programmed to work. Small detail, big impact. The recently-introduced Nest Learning Thermostat adds a new layer of simplicity and control to the standard programmable thermostat. And with its modern design, it looks pretty slick on a wall. But does it increase energy savings? And, can it work in a commercial environment?…Read more.

2.  Competitive advantage from predicting the who, what, and where of future energy demand
If you were to participate in an energy market, how much money could you save if you were able to predict not only what the future demand of energy would be, but also where it would be demanded? Even better, what if you knew exactly who was going to be demanding it? The answer varies, but for a deregulated competitive energy market, this question may mean the difference between profit and loss. Any ability to improve the understanding of future load behavior in a specific market sector or geography can help mitigate risk, gain competitive advantage, and gather market intelligence before your competitors can…Read more.

3. Cyber Security, NERC Compliance, and the Nuclear Plant Challenge
Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) Cyber Security―the protection of valuable nuclear safeguards information in digital form and NPP Nuclear Safety Systems (NSS) digital components against internal and external cyber threats is an increasingly critical management issue for nuclear power plants today. Additionally, the current administration has identified cyber security as “one of the most serious economic and national security challenges we face as a nation.” Given this, the NPP cyber security challenges are to (1) continue the ongoing excellence in reliability and availability of the facility…Read more.

4. DNV GL explains the importance of Cyber Security Health Testing of SCADA systems
As DNV GL is globally recognized as a SCADA telecommunications and data expert, we are logically involved with numerous projects regarding procurement, renewal, and maintenance of SCADA systems and the related equipment. While executing these projects, clients continue to ask the same questions: We are moving from IEC60870-5-101/ DNP3 serial to IEC60870-5-104/DNP3 Ethernet. What do we need to do regarding cyber security when introducing Ethernet components in our SCADA system?…Read more.

5. Retail price spikes – The drivers and implications
The recent extreme cold weather in the Midwest and Northeast has driven competitive retail price offers, specifically for residential customers, to historic highs. Customers and policymakers in Connecticut, New York, and Pennsylvania are investigating what these trends mean in regard to how retail markets are intended to function. While the regulatory outcomes are uncertain, scrutiny on the fundamental functions of wholesale and retail markets are in the cross hairs in these markets. We do not expect this political momentum to cease when the seasonal drivers for these competitive price dynamics wane…Read more.

6. The challenge of increasing power system support from microgrids
One of the upcoming challenges in the energy industry will be the seamless integration of numerous microgrids into the operation of the power system. The Transmission System Operator (TSO) presently sees, on average, an estimated 80–85% of the total power flow. This percentage is shrinking due to increased local generation and balancing at the lower voltage levels. TSOs want to know what is going on with microgrids at lower voltage levels, as problems could suddenly arise—but also because of a possible resource of ancillary services for the transmission grid…Read more.

7. Where is the energy storage market heading and where is the disruptive change? (Part 1)
Before the dawn of the 20th century, burning wood was the main source of energy. The 20th century witnessed three major fuel transitions from wood to coal, to oil, to gas. The past century also brought us hydro and nuclear power. The use of these fuel sources is not expected to grow in the 21st century; and in fact, some of them, like coal, are expected to become an insignificant part of our energy portfolio. As shown in Figure 1, the flourishing fuels of the 21st century are renewables particularly solar energy that is the most accessible form at the consumer level…Read more.

8. DNV GL’s Colin Morgan on politics: Energy is political
Offshore wind energy has a great story to tell. We need to make sure it’s told right. In physics energy is simple. It is the fundamental capacity of a system to do work and, as far as we can know, follows well-defined natural laws. But things get complicated very quickly once human beings are added to the picture. Tapping the myriad energy resources of our planet, converting them into usable forms and transporting them to places where we want them have posed some of the defining engineering challenges of the last 200 years…Read more.

9. Time for a national energy strategy? The roles of state, federal, and private entities
The US DOE produced an energy strategy document in December 2013 in response to a request from the Senate Energy and Commerce Committee at Secretary Moniz’ confirmation hearings last April. However, the DOE alone cannot establish a comprehensive strategy—much less implement one—due to the division of roles and responsibilities among federal agencies, such as FERC, NERC, DHS, EPA, and state agencies, such as public service commissions, research and development agencies, and other regulatory and economic development functions…Read more.

10. Putin unwittingly boosts European renewables
As Europe prepares to debate the future of renewable energy policy, the Russia-Ukraine crisis should be a wake-up call for the European Council. The 28 heads of state and government of the European Union will have plenty to occupy them when they sit down to talk at the European Council today. Top of the formal agenda are the closely related issues of the EU’s long-term ambition for climate and energy policy and the international competitiveness of Europe’s economies…Read more.

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