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Why New Daedalus?

Daedalus was the mythical great architect and artificer of the classical world. Today, embedded intelligence is enabling the most profound changes in the way we create and use buildings since his day.

Building Intelligence meets the Intelligent Building. The Intelligent Building negotiates with the Intelligent Grid. How will this transform how we interact with the physical world?

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Thursday
Jul282016

The End of Net Metering

Net metering can never be more than a fantasy that dissolves once the level of distributed power generation rises beyond the level of noise. This is as true as water is wet.

If any neighborhood were all generating, all houses would produce more than they need at the same time. The only “target” for the power would be a use different than the houses, which means somewhere else. The distribution infrastructure must be in place to get there.

Assuming you could solve the physical problem of power transport, you are still left with the market problem. Each house wants to sell power at the same time as all the others do. In any realistic scenario that must reduce price.

This problem is dealt with today by enabling the [Utility] to disable the inverter to support system stability. This means that as the owner of home solar, a third party can decide whether you come to market, and what price you must take. By any economic definition, this means you do not own your solar power system.

Distribution itself brings other problems. Maintenance of the network is expensive. An actual net zero house is free-riding on all others. Middle income power hobbyists are subsidized by the poor. Transporting power is like driving a pickup truck filled with water, there is always splashing (line loss) and the further you travel, the less is left at the end.

The best place to use distributed generation is where you generate it, with no line loss, and no restriction on your use. The second best use is to store it, for later use on site. The third best use is to sell it when it fits your needs and you receive a price you accept. Perhaps the price you receive is from your neighbor. Perhaps you must discount your price because your customer is far away and much of your “product” is lost.  Home (and business) storage is an essential part of this.

It is inevitable that charges for the distribution network will eventually be unbundled from power. Per-kWh prices will drop. We must continue to innovate so that distributed generation and distributed storage fit within those future prices when the time is ripe.

For widely deployed distributed energy to work, we must adopt business models that encourage full use of all the power generated at the edges. To use power at the edges, we must manage power at the edges, and this includes power storage at the edges. It will require shared signals of scarcity and abundance within homes and commercial buildings, and between those homes and commercial buildings.

The supply of distributed energy varies over time and that supply is always local. Local usage is inherently more volatile than usage combined and averaged over a wide area. Local supply and local demand for power must be solved locally, with local transactive integration of systems.

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