In three decades of work on emission controls and project development, I have witnessed and collaborated on numerous examples of efforts to achieve affordable, sustainable solutions. This can be a fine line to walk as projects that are more innovative also have difficulties obtaining financing. These issues have been present for decades and the current direction, with sustainable goals becoming more dominant, is promising. Goals of decreased carbon footprint, emissions reduction, and improved efficiency and/or yields are increasingly priorities, and they are becoming more bankable as interest in green projects gains traction. These various forces are intersecting in fascinating ways and currently, the pace of change can be dizzying. There are many sources of information, and in this blog I will highlight some of these sources, the trends in the industry and my observations about work that is moving things forward.
But first, a baseline. Where is the power industry today? Deregulation of the power industry changed rate structures for many, and public interest in reducing greenhouse gas emissions has accelerated. The Internet of Things is creating a sea change in how information is handled. From homes to commercial and industrial sites, as well as the grid and power generation infrastructure itself, technologies are now available that can enable people, companies and policy makers to make choices and create innovations at many different scales. Recent innovations include combining smart sensors and newer, sophisticated advanced analytics to legacy buildings, industrial sites, power generators, and the grid itself. Through the application of advanced controls, legacy facilities can be leveraged to become more sustainable and integrate with newer technologies.
Cost improvements are paramount throughout industry, as are safety, security and reliability. As budgets tighten and competition intensifies, the good news is that the necessary components for affordable solutions are within our reach. The integration of existing power generation with energy storage and renewable generation are essential parts of planning. Policies are developing in states, cities and in companies to drive these changes. Recently developed technology for sensing, analytics and control on commercial buildings, industrial operations, and existing power plants can produce improvements in efficiency, yields, quality, reliability, emissions, and environmental footprint.
Whether your goals are saving money, improved quality, or zero carbon – or a mixture – I would love to learn more about your operation and discuss the possibilities. As new demands and capabilities transform our industry, it has become clear that the future of power generation often begins with existing infrastructure. It is key for new technology to leverage what is already in place.