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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
Jan292009

Energy, Innovation, and E-Tech

The culture of information technology is one of innovation and rapid change. The culture of energy is risk-adverse and slow to change. We need to move from energy to E-Tech to address today’s problems of climate, of security, and of reliability. E-Tech will embrace diversity to customize each solution for each situation. E-Tech will support rapid quick adoption of new technologies. E-tech must not be constrained by the slow adoption of the regulated utilities. E-Tech must be more tolerant of poor power quality. E-Tech must provide better support of digital systems for business and entertainment than do today’s systems.

Today’s energy distribution systems are deeply integrated and intolerant of diversity. Utilities routinely demand new components based on 20 year old technology. SCADA security relies on physical defense of dumb systems. Every decision is made to preserve a static hierarchy of systems from generator to final user.

Tomorrows energy distribution must acknowledge and accept distributed generation and diversity of technology. Every demarcation will potentially support energy flows in either direction. Net energy users will be able to negotiate with different suppliers. Todays presumption of hierarchical control will not support this.

As new technologies hit the market, new sources of energy will appear in a patchwork across the distribution networks. Some of these will be competing brands of existing technologies. Some of these will be radical variants and extensions of existing technologies, perhaps leveraging intelligence or nanotechnology to create something that is qualitatively distinct. Some of these will use whole new approaches to electrical generation, such as the bacterial system I wrote of last fall.

Other approaches will change the way energy is used. Energy storage, conversion, and recycling are all parts of the Net Zero Energy (NZE) building. If some of these approaches create excess energy that can be sold to the grid, our interface should support it. As the price, i.e. scarcity, of electricity grows, a building may wish to redeploy more and more of its energy for sale. It is imaginable that the mix of energy sources inside a building may be unique. It is certain that the mix of energy sources in each building are likely to change over time.

The current models of grid operation will not support these new scenarios. Deep process-oriented integration will be a barrier to rapid innovation. Current assumptions of a paternalistic utility providing all control will not be sustained. New models of loose integration and symmetric interactions are required.

Today, new energy technologies have an additional hurdle to get to market; they must be accepted by the utilities as a proper peer with full process revealed. This can add years to the trip to market. This presents a huge barrier to venture funding of energy project. We must remove that barrier, through adopting service oriented integration and abandoning process integration. When we do, many more energy ventures will be funded. When we do, we will have gone a long way toward making E-Tech as agile and innovative as high tech.

 

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Reader Comments (3)

Here here!!! I whole-heartily agree. I'm not exactly sure how we get from here to there...but it's certainly a noble cause.

January 29, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMichaela

Thx for the thoughts tc. I've wondered if Duke Energy has committed to X number of megawatts produced by solar/wind/other means by end of 2009/2010? Their 'rooftop solar' initiatives seemed to get media attention latter 2008, but is it gaining real traction?

February 2, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRob

fwiw, saw this update, re: Duke and solar: http://bitly.com/dukesolar

February 3, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRob

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