Advanced Energy’s 2018 Projects

We hope your year is off to a great start! Our Advanced Energy team hit the ground running with many projects kicking off right at the start of 2018. We are excited to see where this year leads us as we develop new services and programs, and continue expanding our offerings within and outside of North Carolina. Here is a sneak peek at the projects we are working on this year.

Solar

2017 was a milestone year for our solar team. Duke Energy selected us to lead its PV Interconnection Commissioning in its North Carolina and South Carolina territories. This year the work will be a top priority, as many new sites will need to be commissioned and a few existing sites will be inspected. We are looking forward to a very busy and exciting 2018 for our solar work.

Electric Transportation

We have been working in the electric transportation market since 1989, and we are thrilled to see all of the recent buzz surrounding electric vehicles (EVs). This year, we will continue running our statewide education and outreach program, Plug-in NC, to increase support and awareness of EVs across North Carolina. Through Plug-in NC, we host public events, bring together stakeholders to discuss solutions to EV adoption barriers, and recognize organizations that install charging stations, purchase electric fleet vehicles and conduct education and outreach to support EVs.

We will also continue working with electric cooperatives across the country to develop and support EV strategies. One reason electric cooperatives are showing increased interest in electric vehicles is because they provide an opportunity for new, manageable kWh sales.  With cooperatives becoming the new fuel providers for many drivers, they are in a unique position to become a trusted EV resource and strategically implement programs that will benefit their members. We are excited to continue our efforts to create customized strategic electric vehicle plans for cooperatives.

Smart Grid

Last year, we launched our Exploring North Carolina Smart Grid webinar series and hosted five webinars that focused on smart grid basics, solar power and grid integration, smart meters and advanced metering infrastructure, microgrids and grid resiliency, and self-optimizing systems. In 2018, we will be sharing last year’s materials, developing new webinars and creating educational materials around additional smart grid topics. So far, we have three topics selected for 2018: battery storage, economic development and grid resiliency during extreme weather.

Motors and Drives

In 2017, we were invited to join a variable frequency drive (VFD) round-robin testing group that includes other test labs from Europe and Australia to validate the IEC 61800-9-2 test standard. Each participating lab (four total) will secure two VFDs, test them and then ship them off to the other labs for testing. Each test lab will get the opportunity to test all VFDs and results will be compared to strengthen the test method.  This year, the testing will take place and we are excited to be able to contribute.

We will also be helping with the update of the Motor System Market Assessment (MSMA), a national study last conducted by the U.S. Department of Energy in 1998. Motor efficiency has improved since then, with two rounds of federal regulations setting minimum efficiency standards. The new MSMA will document the efficiency opportunities for motor driven systems and propel market uptake of best practices and technologies.

Commercial and Industrial

We provide various levels of engineering support and consulting services to the commercial and industrial markets regarding energy efficiency challenges and issues. This year, we are continuing to help our customers identify and evaluate energy efficiency opportunities that improve operations, reduce energy intensity, lower energy and operation costs, and enhance product quality. To further support our efforts, we will be delivering trainings to utility staff members and customers who work in the commercial and industrial market. These trainings will cover various topics including commercial HVAC, chilled water optimization and pumping system assessments.

We will also be conducting new research projects. One will study the effect of the smart grid on industrial customer equipment, in particular the effect of high speed reclosing and subsequent lockout of isolated phases on equipment. Another effort will focus on specific market segments to analyze and quantify results of a strategic energy management approach to whole-site energy efficiency. An additional effort will look at the benefits that LED lighting brings to poultry farms.

Residential

In the residential market, we will continue our commitment to helping the affordable housing market in North Carolina through our SystemVision program, as well as residential homeowners as a whole through our public consulting work. We will also continue to promote program and trade ally successes through trainings and technical support on the interconnections of quality management, process development and key building science concepts.

Through research projects, we will test whether variable capacity HVAC systems can be sized and installed to minimize winter-time heat strip usage. This outcome could enhance energy saving potential year round without compromising resident comfort. A similar project will examine variable refrigerant flow HVAC technology, specifically in retrofit applications to explore energy savings, key field installation practices, installation costs and homeowner satisfaction.

Also, we are seeing increasing interest from various utility clients on the “house as a system” building science concept. Implementing this concept can maximize home improvement savings, cross sell multiple program measures and increase customer satisfaction.

2018 is shaping up to be a great year, and we will make sure to keep you updated as our projects progress. If you would like to read more about last year’s work, download our annual report. To stay updated on current projects, sign up to receive our newsletter.