Tuesday, January 6, 2015

CES 2015 Update

Well, as I write this, I'm winging my way to Las Vegas for the 2015 CES.  I'll be updating this entry daily with interesting bits as I come across them.  One thing though, is worth mentioning right off.

One of the hats I wear is that of the Executive Director of the USNAP Alliance, and two of that organization's members won a Consumer Electronics Association Innovation Award in the "Tech for a Better World" category.  Here's the Press Release, but the upshot is that eRadio has released a CEA-2045 module that allows appliances to receive electricity price information via Digital FM sideband (the same data channel that lets your car radio tell you what's playing).  This is the "holy grail" of prices to devices; an inexpensive, efficient, reliable and secure way for Utilities to pass pricing information to customer load equipment, allowing that equipment to determine the most economic way to meet the customer's needs.  Way cool.

In a more general sense, there are a number of people doing home automation at various levels.  Of course, the buzzword is the "Internet of Things", but that is getting played out in three realms:
  • Automobiles (including Electric Vehicles)
  • Health and Fitness
  • Home Automation
For Smart Grid discussions, the first and third areas are of the most interest.

Automobiles are getting interesting no so much for the vehicles themselves (and their batteries as a grid resource), but the notion that careful manipulation of the charge rate can be helpful for ancillary services.  (Voltage & Frequency rise, charge the vehicle faster, Voltage & Frequency drop, slow the charge if you can.)

This is great, because it allows vehicle systems to participate in Demand Response in a useful way, without worrying the automakers about shortened battery life.

A lot of the Home Automation news is less hopeful.  It seems that everyone expects to be able to provide DR services to Utilities "via the cloud".  Some appliance manufacturers want to put everything into the cloud.  Utilities have already been burned by cloud services, thanks.  Need I remind y'all what happened when a prominent Solar provider (who was managing their installations "via the cloud") went belly up and turned off their servers?  Yup, there's a lot of installed rooftop solar that is dead as the proverbial doornail, because there's no way anymore to tell the inverters to wake up and do something.  This experience pretty much puts the kibosh on cloud-managed DR, and really hoses the idea of microgrids for reliability.

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