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SNV-Lavalin hires Leonard to head up nuclear biz

SNC-Lavalin is pleased to announce the addition of John M. Leonard, Jr. as vice president of business development for the U.S. commercial nuclear sector effective last month. He will be responsible for administration and coordination of all business development efforts related to the U.S. commercial nuclear fleet to include governmental, nuclear utilities, fuel, industrial and broker process markets.

“John is an established nuclear industry leader with a strong track record and success in both operations and business development,” said Keyes Niemer, Senior Director of commercial nuclear, SNC-Lavalin. “His broad depth of industry knowledge and practical experience will be instrumental as we expand and strengthen our footprint in the U.S. commercial nuclear market.”

Leonard’s previous roles include director of business development for Worley Parsons and vice president of Regional Sales for Babcock & Wilcox Nuclear Energy. He holds an MBA from Queens University in Charlotte, North Carolina.

SNC-Lavalin is a global firm in energy infrastructure.


Amazon to purchase energy from wind farms in Ireland, Sweden and US

Amazon.com announced today that it plans to purchase the energy produced by three new renewable energy projects as part of its long-term goal to power all Amazon Web Services (AWS) global infrastructure with renewable energy. These projects – a 91.2-MW wind farm in Donegal Ireland, a 91-MW wind farm in Bàƒ¤ckhammar, Sweden, and a 47-MW wind farm in Tehachapi, California – will deliver an expected 670,000 megawatt-hours (MWh) of renewable energy annually.

These projects, combined with AWS’s previous nine renewable energy projects, are expected to generate more than 2,700,000 MWh of renewable energy annually.

“Each of these projects brings us closer to our long-term commitment to use 100 percent renewable energy to power our global AWS infrastructure,” said Peter DeSantis, Vice President of Global Infrastructure and Customer Support, Amazon Web Services.

Beyond the sustainability initiatives focused on powering the AWS global infrastructure, Amazon recently announced Shipment Zero, which is Amazon’s vision to make all Amazon shipments net zero carbon, with 50 percent of all shipments net zero by 2030.

Additional sustainability programs across the company include Amazon Wind Farm Texas, which adds more than 1 million MWh of clean energy each year. In total, Amazon has enabled 53 wind and solar projects worldwide, which produce more than 1,016 MW and are expected to deliver over 3,075,636 million MWh of energy annually.

These projects support hundreds of jobs, while providing tens of millions of dollars of investment in local communities. Amazon has also set a goal to host solar energy systems at 50 fulfillment centers by 2020. This deployment of rooftop solar systems is part of a long-term initiative that will start in North America and spread across the globe. Amazon also implemented the District Energy Project that uses recycled energy for heating Amazon offices in Seattle. 

Utilities may have $2 trillion potential market with EVs

Only time will tell, but it may be that in the future only car buffs or techno-Luddites will still actively own internal-combustion-engine automobiles.

Sure thing, you say, I’ve heard that before. True, that future is hard to pin down for certain right now, but some obvious momentum is building toward electric vehicles as the ride of choice. Millennials, the important sector for gauging future consumer patterns, express commitment to cleaning up the environment and less emotional attachment to the car culture of yore.

In fact, forecasts indicate that EVs would number 10 million in only six years and outnumber conventional automobiles by 2040, creating a $2 trillion economic opportunity for electric utility companies in North America and Europe, according to a new report by Accenture Strategy.

The report-Utilities: Lead the Charge in eMobility-was released Tuesday at Accenture’s annual International Utilities and Energy Conference held at the Ritz-Carlton in the oceanside northern California community of Half Moon Bay. Accenture’s research included input from 6,000 consumers globally.

Of that group, 63 per cent said they would switch to EVs to save money on operation and maintenance costs in the long term. Current obstacles in this market, however, include high costs of vehicles and charging stations, long charging times and impact on energy bills.

But that’s actually good news because the fix is already happening on all of those fronts.

“The top obstacles are things that are actually changing” for the better, said Greg Bolino, managing director of utilities strategy for Accenture, during the IUEC event this week. “These things will solve themselves pretty quickly.”

Indeed, EV battery costs-as high as $750 per kWh in 2010-have fallen more than 80 per cent in the past six years. Battery-driven cars are fast becoming comparable to conventional autos, price-wise.

Companies such as GM, Ford, Volkswagen, Mercedes, BMW and Tesla, of course, are investing big in positioning future EV models for the marketplace. Apple recently hired dozens of key Tesla people on the battery side.

“It’s pretty clear” that momentum is growing, Bolino said. “Talk about a ‘holy crap moment’ for the OEMS.”

Utilities don’t have to be left behind, the report pointed out. Consumers want them as trusted advisers, with opportunities open in energy sales, financing, charging infrastructure, fleet management and more.

“Over 80 per cent of future EV owners plan to charge their vehicles primarily from their homes,” the report reads. “Yet, only 55 per cent have their own garage.”

For utilities wondering where future demand growth is possible in an era of decentralized energy and retiring baseload plants, the Accenture study noted that EV-led commodity sales could top $1.7 trillion in Europe and North America by 2040.

The future opportunity is not without its challenges, such as the need for $150 billion in required costs to provide public charging infrastructure. Yet utilities have a potential $250 billion eMobility-related services market to tap through such services as charging station installation, maintenance and financing, according to the report.

To the last point, more than half of current EV owners responding to Accenture’s survey financed or leased their batteries, while a similar portion of potential future buyers expect to acquire their home charging station as part of a packaged deal.

“Companies that can help make EV ownership easy and affordable for consumers will accelerate adoption and improve competitiveness across their industries,” Bruno Berthon, senior managing director and global utilities lead for Accenture Strategy, said in a statement. “Utilities are uniquely positioned to play a significant role in the eMobility market by providing differentiated and meaningful customer experiences, while making critical ecosystem partnerships.”

Those ecosystem partnerships can include car manufacturers, fleet operators, charge point operators, ride-charging companies and parking space owners. More than half of utility executives queried by Accenture said they believe ecosystems will create new competitive advantages and customer experiences.

Some studies have forecasted that EV charging could increase electricity demand by 25 per cent and more.

Southern California Edison, Ameren, Duke Energy and Pacific Gas & Electric are among the leading utilities working toward development of more expensive EV charging networks.

Rod Walton is content director for Power Engineering and POWERGEN International, happening Nov. 19-21 in New Orleans. He can be reached at 918-831-9177 and rod.walton@clarionevents.com

Korea and Malaysia co-pilot $7m virtual power plant system

A consortium of South-Korea based utility and technology companies has been formed to address the long-term energy needs of both utilities and businesses across Malaysia.

South Korean utility Busan City Gas is partnering with smart energy IoT solutions firms Shihwa SNC and I-ON Communications develop a virtual power plant as part of a pilot project.

The consortium is collaborating with Malaysian utility Tenaga Nasional Berhad to integrate and tests an energy storage system with solar technology over a period of 30 months.

The integrated solution will be tested across five sites across Malaysia.

The project is valued at approximately $7 million and will be financed through entities directly affiliated with both the Malaysian and South Korean governments.

The Korea Institute of Energy Technology Evaluation and Planning is co-funding the pilot.

Mr. James Oh, Chairman of I-ON, said: “This research collaboration with both our Malaysian and South Korean partners comes on the heels of I-ON’s previously announced next generation VPP alliance with Japan-based TIS INTEC Group, in which we are offering and employing key components of I-ON’s energy management platform to address the demand response needs of Japan’s power grid companies.  

“Similarly, our Malaysia-focused initiative, together with TNB, will also maintain an eye towards integrating a proprietary next generation VPP that operates within its own cloud-based service environment, while utilising components of I-ON’s next generation energy management platform- Micro-Grid, Prosumer, V2G- all of which are being introduced and brought to market as part of this collaboration.”

In September, Malaysia will once again host POWERGEN Asia, which will spotlight the latest digital trends and technologies for power and utility companies.

This article first appeared on our sister site Smart Energy International

Utility survey says: It’s a distributed energy world

By Ginger Juhl, Juhl Communications

As more battery storage, solar, flexible load, EVs and other distributed energy resources (DERs) are added to the grid, researchers and analysts forecast that utilities will continue to increase the use of these resources to meet their load balancing and sustainability goals. In fact, a recent research report from Market Research Future predicts that the DER management market will grow at a CAGR of 16.50% from 2018 to 2023 as utilities install the systems needed to manage the complexities involved with integrating distributed energy resources into the world’s power grids.

As DERs continue to proliferate, so do the challenges associated with renewables intermittency, along with the new stressors added by DERs to an aging grid that wasn’t designed with two-way power flows in mind. As the platforms needed to manage a more DER-dominated grid, Distributed Resource Energy Management Systems (DERMS) and Virtual Power Plants (VPPs) provide the software needed to deal with these challenges and keep our electric grids in a state of reliable balance.

To measure and assess what utilities are planning and doing relative to the control and management of DERs, Enbala took advantage of the large number of utilities who attend the annual DistribuTECH conference and recently conducted what has become an annual survey of conference attendees. Enbala is the leading provider of VPP software and one of the top two providers of DERMS software, according to Navigant Research, and the company’s February survey marked the third consecutive year that the survey was conducted.

Who Responded?

During this year’s DistribuTECH event in New Orleans, LA, Enbala surveyed 114 attendees. This compares to 108 in 2018 and 107 responses from 2017.

Figure 1

Utilities responding to this year’s survey were from IOUs (40%), municipal utilities or public power authorities (28%), energy service providers (ESPs) (22%) and co-ops (10%). This differs from the mix of respondent breakdowns for the 2018 and 2017 surveys. The variation is most likely due to the locations in which the conferences took place and the associated impact that geography has on attendance.  The 2018 event was in San Antonio, TX, and the 2017 DistribuTECH conference was in San Diego, CA.

Figure 2

Size and Location Factors

Some 49% of this year’s respondents were from utilities with more than one million customers – a percentage that is similar to last year’s percentage of 50%.  In 2017, on the other hand, 74% were from larger utilities. Again, the difference in the size of the utilities responding is likely a factor of the locations where the conferences were held each year and the specific utilities that were drawn to these locations.

This year, 48% of the attendees who responded hailed from the Southern U.S. – a dramatic difference from the previous two years (26% in 2018 and 22% in 2017). Some 11% were from the Northeast U.S. this year, compared to 12% in 2018 and 24% in 2017), and 10% were from the Western U.S. in 2019, compared to 22% in 2018 and 23% in 2017.   Another 11% of the respondents this year were from the Midwest, versus 9% in 2018 and 10% in 2017.  Also ringing in at 11% was the number of respondents from Canada (compared to 6% in 2018 and 8% in 2017).  Completing the picture were 8% from outside of North America, compared 25% in 2018 and 13% in 2017.  It’s not known how the demographics of the survey respondents maps to the overall conference attendee breakdown.

Figure 3

Who’s Doing What?

Some 25% of the respondents this year indicated that their organization had a Distributed Energy Resource Management Systems (DERMS) or Virtual Power Plant (VPP) platform in place, which is roughly the same percentage as last year.  In 2017, the percentage was 18%.  Of those who do not already have a platform in place, 64% said they’d be implementing one in the next 36 months.   

Figure 4

The DERs Being Controlled

Survey respondents were asked to specify what types of distributed energy resources they were connecting and controlling – or planned to connect and control.  Asked to select from among various types of DERS, many said they’d be controlling all the DERs listed in the survey.  Others indicated different combinations of DERs. (Responses add up to more than 100% because respondents were asked to select all the options that applied.)

Figure 5

What’s Being Done With all Those DERs?

As previously noted, some 25% of the respondents have a VPP or DERMS platform in place to control and manage DERs. When asked about the programs for which these assets are being used, respondents name automated demand response and integrated energy efficiency as the top two applications.  This is consistent with the results from the previous two years, though 2019 showed a decrease in respondents saying they had DERMs pilots underway, dropping from 52% in 2018 to 38% this year.

Figure 6

Overcoming Obstacles

There’s no question that utilities are continuing to expand their reliance on DERs, but it’s also clear that there are still obstacles to be overcome.  When queried about what obstacles have been encountered in expanding the use of DERs, not much has changed in terms of what these concerns are.   As in 2018 and 2017, cost and regulatory issues topped the list of the two biggest challenges that must be faced, with 60% citing regulatory challenges as their biggest obstacle, and 61% indicating that cost or financial constraints were the leading challenge when it come to their ability to deploy VPP or DERMS solutions.

Figure 7

Compared to previous years, the following chart depicts how survey respondents ranked the primary obstacles they are facing on a scale of one to five, with five being the biggest obstacle.  

Title: Priority ComparisonsFigure 8

Why Invest?

There are many compelling reasons to invest in distributed energy assets and the technologies that control and manage them. Chief among them for the last three years are meeting grid reliability concerns and sustainability/carbon reduction. Some 61% of the survey respondents this year said grid reliability was their primary investment driver, followed by 48% who cited sustainability goals and 47% focused on increasing opportunities for customer choice. These drivers are closely aligned to results from 2018 and 2017.  Addressing declining electric supply was ranked highly this year as an investment driver, with 38% of the respondents saying it was a key reason to invest.   This is higher than reflected in the survey results for the previous two years.

Figure 9

Measuring Success?

As utilities refine the criteria for what they regard as a successful DERMS or VPP solution, speed and reliability remain as the top two most important system selection factors.   Accuracy isn’t far behind, followed by flexibility in operations.  The 2019 results align with 2018 and 2017 results, with speed and reliability topping the selection criteria list for three years in a row.

Figure 10

Moving On

Navigant Research estimates that new capacity deployments of distributed energy resources are now outpacing deployments of new centralized generation capacity.  This denotes a pivotal tipping point in the energy market – one characterized by a disruption that brings with it opportunities and challenges.   This year’s survey shows that utilities are well-aware of both.  One fourth of the respondents have already implemented DERMS or VPP platforms to control DERs, and another 64% plan to deploy the technology in the next few years.   As utilities continue to interconnect DERs to the grid in a quest for a cleaner, more reliable, customer-friendly power system, the implications are large, and the decisions that must be made are many.  What do you think it will take to transform the traditional power grid to a move distributed energy grid? In 2020, we’ll take another look at how the distributed energy market progresses over the course of the next year.

Ginger Juhl is chief experience officer for Juhl Communications, a technology marketing company focused on the utility industry.

Utility industry leaders join to champion private broadband networks

United in advancing the development and adoption of dedicated wireless broadband networks for utilities, a diverse group of power providers, technology innovators and industry leaders are establishing the Utility Broadband Alliance. 

UBBA aims to assist its members in planning and deploying secure, reliable, and resilient private broadband networks to support America’s transforming digital grid.  

The founding members of UBBA represent utility industry organizations positioned at the forefront of advancing grid modernization, joining together to champion the advancement of innovative use cases leveraging private broadband networks. 

Current founding members include Ameren, Burns & McDonnell, Cisco Systems, Inc., Encore Networks, Inc., Ericsson, Inc., Federated Wireless, Inc., General Electric [GE], Motorola Solutions, Inc., Multi-Tech Systems, Inc., National Grid, pdvWireless, Inc., Sierra Wireless, Inc., and Southern Linc.

Grid modernization and digitalization are compelling utilities to move beyond traditional communications to broadband solutions. Created with utilities and dedicated to utilities, UBBA plans to drive the industry toward improved connectivity by leveraging industry successes and lessons learned.

Initial founding member, Southern Linc, recently shared that based on their experience, they are convinced that private wireless broadband networks are a strategic and tactical advantage for electric utilities.


Electric vehicle adoption to overtake gasoline vehicles by 2040

Poised to grow to 10 million in 2025 and surpass conventional vehicles by 2040, electric vehicles will create a $2 trillion eMobility opportunity for utility companies, according to new research from Accenture.

The Utilities: Lead the Charge in eMobility report from Accenture Strategy found that utilities stand to make significant competitive gains by bundling services for EV owners. Besides a $1.7 trillion opportunity from providing low-margin electricity for EVs, utilities can add $250 billion of higher-margin new eMobility services such as remote charging apps, integrated home-EV energy management, payment processing and even financing for EV purchases. 

By combining these services on a single platform, utilities can optimize system performance and help improve the overall EV customer experience.

“Companies that can help make EV ownership easy and affordable for consumers will accelerate adoption and improve competitiveness across their industries. This is particularly important as consumers increasingly make purchasing decisions based on a company’s purpose and their commitment to important principles such as improving the environment,” said Bruno Berthon, senior managing director and global utilities lead for Accenture Strategy. “Utilities are uniquely positioned to play a significant role in the eMobility market by providing differentiated and meaningful customer experiences, while making critical ecosystem partnerships.”

According to companion research conducted by Accenture Strategy with 6,000 consumers around the world, environmental reasons are the main purchasing driver of EVs today, followed by the cost-saving opportunities they offer. Nearly two-thirds (63 percent) of future EV owners would switch to an EV to save money in the long term. However, while battery technology continues to advance and new leasing options arise, purchasing costs of EVs and access to charging – such as domestic energy systems or public charging stations — remain a barrier to ownership. For example, more than 80 percent of consumers who intend to be future EV owners plan to charge their vehicles primarily from their homes, but only 55 percent have their own garage.

“There is tremendous value potential in the eMobility market, but utilities need to act now. Armed with a deep understanding of the energy market and its rules and regulations, and trusted customer and supplier relationships, utilities that invest smartly and deliver targeted offerings will thrive in this market,” said Greg Bolino, a managing director for Accenture Strategy.

Schneider Electric launches digital ecosystem for IoT solutions

Schneider Electric launched Schneider Electric Exchange, a cross-industry open ecosystem dedicated to solving real-world sustainability and efficiency challenges.

As digitization revolutionizes the way we work and interact, energy fundamentally becomes more distributed. With Schneider Electric Exchange, individuals gain entry to a vast network of technical tools and resources to develop, share, and sell digital and IoT innovations.

“What differentiates Schneider Electric Exchange is that it brings together people across industries and practice areas that share a passion for sustainability and efficiency, enabling collaboration and interaction across ecosystems. While all content, IoT applications, software, datasets, analytics, and tools are available to everyone, we have focused on specific capabilities that fit the needs and expectations of each community,” says Hervàƒ© Coureil, Chief Digital Officer, Schneider Electric.

“Digitization continues to revolutionize the way we work and behave. The world can no longer work in independent silos; the need for better integration and collaboration has unearthed new opportunities and solutions. Schneider Electric Exchange brings together a diverse ecosystem of digital innovators and experts, enabling the co-creation of solutions and enriching learning and speed through collective intelligence. Together this digital ecosystem creates, collaborates, and scales business growth,” says Cyril Perducat, EVP IoT & Digital Offers, Schneider Electric.

With Schneider Electric Exchange anyone can:

“- Reach a larger customer base in otherwise hard-to-reach new markets

“- Gain access to a vast library of resources such as APIs, analytics, and data sets to improve digital offers

“- Leverage digital tools and expertise to scale solutions and speed up time to market

“- Collaborate through a powerful cloud-based platform to share insights and designs, and effectively manage and complete projects

The Minimum Viable Product (MVP) first released in private beta mode in April 2018, then opened to a broader customer base in November. The platform is poised for strong growth and already boosts a global footprint in Europe(35%), APAC (35%), and the Americas (20%).

Schneider Electric Exchange draws on the company’s ecosystem of digital partners to accelerate and scale innovation – and provide companies with the tools needed to operationalize AI for real-world problems. Accenture, a global management consulting and professional services firm, brings the ability to create customized solutions and develop digital business models.  Another partner, Claroty, a security specialist for operational technology infrastructure, offers industrial cybersecurity expertise, working with companies to address the larger digital risk surface that comes with integrating IIoT solutions.

Schneider is using published datasets and SaaS from the Schneider Electric Exchange partner Senseye, a technology company in predictive maintenance (UK), in one of its Smart Factory manufacturing plants, Le Vaudreuil. Likewise, Schneider is co-innovating a digital service offer for the retail chain market in Italy with the company Predictive Layer, which specializes in energy forecasting. Through its network of communities, Schneider Electric Exchange can broaden the geographic and market reach or our partners.

Former RI utilities regulator McCleary joins innogy Consulting staff

Energy management firm innogy Consulting has appointed former Rhode Island regulator Macky McCleary as a new partner for its U.S. subsidiary.

“Energy markets around the world are undergoing a stunning transformation, and the United States is a central driver in that change,” Klaus Grellmann, Managing Director of innogy Consulting, said. “As we set out to provide guidance to our clients on how to navigate the future of power delivery, Macky’s deep experience as a regulator, entrepreneur and agent of change will help strengthen our already impressive offering in the U.S. We are very pleased to welcome him.”

McCleary served as administrator of the Rhode Island Public Utilities Commission prior to his hiring by innogy. He was also part of the team that led the state’s landmark 2018 initiative to install over 400MW of clean energy to help meet the state’s goal of 1000MW by 2020.

“As utilities and regulators attempt to adapt to the rapidly changing environment, they will need reliable, strategic, transactional and regulatory support to achieve their goals,” McCleary said. “I’m very excited to join innogy Consulting and leverage two decades of industry experience to provide that support. We can help.”      

McCleary also served as Deputy Commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Energy, where he led the state’s efforts to transform its waste disposal and recycling policies, and the cleanup of the Housatonic River. Prior to his work in public service, McCleary worked with McKinsey & Company where he focused on carbon neutral and sustainability clients.

He also founded EmPower Solar, a successful and still growing rooftop solar company based in New York. 


Idaho Power sets goal for 100-percent clean energy by 2045

Idaho Power unveiled a goal Tuesday to provide 100-percent clean energy by 2045 on the heels of an announcement that it will purchase 120-MW of solar energy through a PPA with Jackpot Holdings at a price of less than US $0.022 cents per kWh. 

Record-low solar

On Tuesday, Idaho Power said it reached a landmark agreement to buy clean, local solar energy at a price that’s among the lowest on record. The energy will come from a 120-MW solar project to be built south of Twin Falls.

Idaho Power will purchase the solar energy through a 20-year power purchase agreement (PPA) with Jackpot Holdings, an Idaho company that plans to complete the solar array by 2022. Idaho Power will initially pay $21.75 per megawatt-hour (MWh) — less than 2.2 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh). The agreement includes the potential for Idaho Power to buy the facility, as well as obtain energy from a proposed expansion at a slightly higher price.

This is among the lowest-cost solar contracts of its size that’s been publicly reported. That low cost makes adding solar power from this facility to Idaho Power’s energy mix cost-effective for customers, said the utility in a statement. 

The Jackpot Holdings solar facility will help replace energy produced by the North Valmy coal-fired plant in Nevada, where Idaho Power recently agreed to end operations. Idaho Power’s other energy resources will help even out fluctuations that could result from new solar energy coming onto the system, said the utility. 

Once it is built, the array will connect to an existing transmission line that today delivers energy from the North Valmy plant.

In addition to being clean and affordable, solar energy production increases in the summer — when hot weather and irrigation increase Idaho Power customers’ energy needs. 

Idaho Power will submit the agreement to the Idaho Public Utilities Commission for approval.

100-percent clean energy goal

Idaho Power’s 100 percent clean energy by 2045 goal makes it one of the first publicly owned energy companies to set a goal for reaching 100-percent clean energy. To achieve the goal, the company plans to continue its path away from coal and invest in storage and additional clean generation sources like wind and solar, it said.

The initiative is called “Clean Today, Cleaner Tomorrow.”

“Providing 100-percent clean energy is an important goal for Idaho Power. More and more customers are telling us it is important to them, too,” Idaho Power President and CEO Darrel Anderson said. “We believe this goal is attainable. We have a great head start, thanks to our clean hydropower plants that produce almost half the energy our customers use. Our recently signed agreement with Jackpot Holdings moves us even closer.”

The utility said in a release that clean energy resources are becoming more affordable, which could help it accomplish its goal while keeping prices fair. Grid upgrades and battery-storage technology should help maintain Idaho Power’s impressive reliability while moving the company closer to its goal. Continued energy efficiency efforts will help.

Clean Today, Cleaner Tomorrow will require strong partnerships with utilities, customers, local governments and regulators. With its strong hydropower backbone and big steps like agreeing to buy 120 MW of new solar power, Idaho Power is taking the lead on creating a cleaner future, said the utility.

Utilities come to POWERGEN International to learn about all forms of energy, including new wind, solar and energy storage options. Learn about the event here.