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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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Monday
Apr302007

Beyond Carbon Trading – Toward an Ontology of Power

Lately I’ve been thinking about an ontology for Power Generation. If buying green, and consumer autonomy are ever going to be valued on the markets, we must get beyond a two-dimensional system of Price/Carbon

Yesterday’s New York Times, in the article “Carbon-Neutral Is Hip, but Is It Green?” (http://www.nytimes.com/2007/04/29/weekinreview/29revkin.html) states quite well the concern that today’s Carbon Credits are much more about self image than they are about actually doing anything, well, useful. I love the category “Global Coolness”.

But there is real value here. The question is, how do we realize it?

I think we need an ontology of power generation. There. I’ve written it. As I look at the sentence, it is one of the least plausible sentences I have ever written. But it is important.

As I wrote in a previous post, customers of intelligent buildings, and of the intelligent grid are never going to have a sustained interest in pure efficiency or economy. Look around and see the number of expensive and inefficient decisions that are made every day. We need to get to an place wherein good decisions, aligned with citizen values, can be made by agents.

If the GridWise model develops, and Agents in or for Intelligent Buildings are making on-the-fly power decisions, based upon pricing and availability, and reflecting their owner’s values, we must devise a way to make these agents informed. An Ontology of power needs at least three major dimensions:

  • Economics. Price and Availability are essential in any market taxonomy.
  • Reliability/Quality of Service. This has many components. I recently listened to a generator describe Just-In-Time (JIT) coal delivery, and how more intimate interactions with the railroad reduced costs. This might be a good thing, but it might also put this generator at risk as a reliable supplier, depending on Labor Relations, Weather, or even some sort of mine catastrophe. An ontology of power needs to delineate the risks.
  • Greenliness. This is more than Carbon. What other environmental costs are involved? Do I want to trade three wild-life destructions for one carbon credit? What about water use in an arid area? Are those renewable resources harvested sustainably from farms or from virgin forests? I know an installer of wind turbines who has learned to describe bird kills in terms of fractional cat-years.

I like to imagine the consumer describing his values to the agent in his house, or the third party aggregator acting in his behalf. Either way, that agent buys power on the spot market to meet the consumer’s needs and aspirations.

This would require that each power generator in the market have its attributes published. Selections would vary with time of day and availability. New sources would come onto the market. The agent would only understand how to make the decisions needed because those attributes must fit within the ontology of power.

References:

IUCN and Accounting for Natural Resources http://www.iucn.org/

OASIS Forest Industries TC http://www.oasis-open.org/committees/tc_home.php?wg_abbrev=forest

Euopean Seafood Safety Tracking System

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