Electric generation and delivery is going through a quiet revolution. Demand for electricity is increasing. And while it is true that this economy has slowed recent growth, supply has not kept up with demand growth in the last decade. Investment in delivery infrastructure has also been lacking and several base load generating plants are nearing the end of their usesful life.
Utilities know how to build new power plants, but the process is not so simple. No one wants a power plant located near them, so location issues can cause delays and expense. Nuclear power is not popular and fossil fuel plants receive opposition as fossil fuel use contributes to CO2 emissions and global warming. As a result, conservation and efficiency have a renewed focus in the building construction industry, and renewable energy is a strong focus of utility generators and political leaders.
Conservation, efficiency and using renewable energy has always seemed like the right approach to take for sustainable designs, but those measures were not often utilized. If energy was cheap and plentiful, why bother with the added engineering and cost? Today is a different climate. Economies all over the globe are competing for source energy and global warming has changed the outlook on burning fossil fuel for energy. With these changes come opportunities created by the need to use existing resources and infrastructure wisely while pursuing new ways to be efficient and provide new electric generation from renewable sources.
Business opportunities will exist for companies that provide goods and services that help electric consumers manage supply, and, now, demand. It used to be that the timing of electricity consumption never mattered. Now the timing of consumption matters a great deal. These changes open the door for many business opportunities associated with energy storage. Thermal energy storage is gaining in popularity because air conditioning is a simple load to shift. Night time electricity is used to generate and store thermal energy which is used the next day to cool the building during times of high demand, high prices or high cooling loads. Thermal Energy Storage (TES) is a proven, reliable solution that can help, along with other forms of storage, to solve renewable energy’s lack of storage issues. Many business opportunities exist for companies in the construction and energy business.
Energy consultants will be valuable to building designers and consumers to help them understand the opportunities that time dependant purchases of energy provide. Utilities in states that are deregulated, like Pennsylvania and Texas, are pricing electricity based upon market demand. Electricity used during peak demand is more expensive than in the dark of night when demand is low. States that are not deregulated are also pricing electricity to reflect market demand. Some states have changed local energy codes to reflect and manage peak demand. California, for example, has implemented Title 24 – a time dependant based energy code that rewards efficiency based upon the market value of electricity in local regions.
Consulting engineers that can design smart buildings will have the ability to look at energy markets and manage it when using energy will be highly sought after in the construction industry.
Life cycle cost analysts will need to model different building systems to see which is most cost effective.
Property developers who can match clients and develop a building or campus with different usages, and who will require architects and engineers to provide smart buildings, will find many clients.
Energy storage companies of all types will be needed to store and discharge energy created by renewable resources. Energy storage manufacturers, designers, and installers will be needed on the utility side of the meter as well as the customer side of the meter to capture renewable energy when its available and to discharge stored energy when renewable resources are not available. This storage will help create a market for renewable energy suppliers while helping to keep the grid stable. Building operators who understand the new electricity market and can manage that knowledge will be in high demand as well.
If you think about the changes that the building industry is facing with this fundamental shift in electricity delivery, it seems daunting. The utilities and regulators want to slow growth by improving efficiency and using existing resources better while providing the next generation with less polluting renewable energies and implementing a smart grid. This change is an opportunity for businesses to manufacture, develop, design, install, and maintain all types of facilities that use energy storage systems to reduce costs and lower the impact of cooling on the environment.
Written by Paul Valenta, CALMAC Manufacturing Corp.
Paul Valenta is the North American Sales Manager for CALMAC Manufacturing Corp and is responsible for Marketing and Sales of Ice Storage in North America, Central America, and The Caribbean. Paul has an Electrical Engineering degree from the University of Nebraska and has been in the HVAC industry for 24 years, the last 19 with CALMAC. Paul is a member of ASHRAE, AEE and is a LEED Accredited Professional.
Tags: CALMAC, conservation, consulting engineers, electric generation, energy consultants, life cycle cost analysts, Paul Valenta, power plants, property developers, renewable energy, renewable energy suppliers, thermal energy storage, utility generators