In 2011/12 the following five projects were selected for support; two of these also received additional support from the Bosch Energy Research Network (BERN) (indicated by * below).
RECONCILABLE DIFFERENCES? EXAMINING THE GAP BETWEEN ENGINEERING PROJECTIONS AND EX-POST REALIZED GAINS FROM ENERGY EFFICIENCY INVESTMENTS
- Professor Meredith Fowlie (Agricultural and Resource Economics)
- Professor Catherine Wolfram (Business)
Professors Fowlie and Wolfram are conducting a state-of-the-art evaluation of the nation’s largest residential energy-efficiency program: the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP). The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) committed $5 billion over two years to this important initiative. Federal funds are being used to improve the energy performance of dwellings of low-income families. The primary objective of this research project is to estimate household-level impacts of the energy‐efficiency retrofits administered through WAP and similar utility‐funded programs. The researchers will measure the direct causal impacts of weatherization on energy consumption and expenditures. The researchers will also examine the persistent gap between engineering projections and ex post realized savings from investments in residential energy-efficiency improvements. In particular, they will investigate behavioral responses to household efficiency improvements which can lead to increased demand for energy services.
This work will facilitate a comparison of WAP’s cost effectiveness relative to other programs that aim to reduce the negative externalities associated with energy consumption. Importantly, this analysis relies on a randomized control trial so the results will be highly credible. The project thus demonstrates proof of an important concept. There is broad consensus in the social-science research community that, under certain conditions, well-designed and implemented randomized control trials provide the most valid estimate of an intervention’s impact on outcomes of interest. There is no precedent for incorporating random assignment into energy-efficiency policy evaluation. The research will demonstrate how random assignment can be used to generate estimates of energy-efficiency policy impacts that are transparent, simple to explain, and free of selection bias.
sMAP2.0 – SIMPLE MONITORING AND ACTUATION PROFILE TO UNIFT THE DIVERSE FORMS OF PHYSICAL INFORMATION INVOLVED IN EFFICIENT ENERGY-AGILE OPERATIONS, MODELING, AND ANALYSIS
- Professor David Culler (EECS)
- Professor Paul Wright (Mechanical Engineering)
- Dr. Carl Blumstein (California Institute for Energy and the Environment)
- Professor Randy Katz (EECS)
- Professor Ed Arens (Architecture)
- Rich Brown (Berkeley Lab)
This project seeks to enable optimization of energy networks as a system by overcoming today’s fragmentation, where every aspect from utilities to buildings to process control, operates as its own information silo. Research efforts across campus, such as matching demand to variable renewable supplies or integrating environmental conditioning with lighting, weather, and occupancy, suffer dealing with this fragmentation. The project builds upon a simple universal framework for physical information, sMAP, that was developed here. Currently it is being utilized by several research groups in various disciplines across campus and LBNL in projects ranging from whole building energy optimization to understanding miscellaneous electronic plug-loads, from improving occupant comfort to enabling personalized energy management, and to next generation grid design. sMAP makes it easy to write software that utilizes the real-time physical information which pervades energy networks, making it accessible as a RESTful web service with a natural resource hierarchy and JSON schema-based representation.
It will provide technical assistance to energy network research projects using sMAP and, in the process, to develop documentation, tutorials, and engineering guides supporting technology transfer, adoption as a de facto standard, and a rich ecosystem of analysis, modeling, and optimization capabilities. Currently, the researchers have over 25,000 active sMAP streams spanning numerous electrical meters (modern IPv6 low-power wireless to legacy modbus to modern smart meters), weather and meteorological streams, ISO market and power availability, steam and water flows, to building-wide BACNet installations. Gigabytes of sMAP data are streaming into repositories locally and in the cloud. The preliminary implementation (see http://new.openbms.org) using the UC Berkeley campus as a living laboratory demonstrates scalability with integrated monitoring of 35 campus buildings, some of which contain thousands of monitoring points. Various modeling and control projects, facilities enhancements, and innovative energy savings applications utilize it today.
SOLAR TO FUEL CONVERSION USING BISMUTH VANADATE (BIVO4)
- Professor Alessandra Lanzara (Physics)
- Professor Ramamoorthy Ramesh (Materials Science and Engineering)
Dubbed “artificial photosynthesis” in analogy to the storage of solar energy in chemical bonds by plants, photoelectrochemical (PEC) water splitting has potential to be an efficient, cost-effective and dispatchable means of utilizing the vast and renewable solar resource and an enabler for a low-carbon hydrogen economy. While many materials are able to use the energy of photons to generate hydrogen and oxygen from water, most are limited to ultraviolet radiation and only able to convert less than four percent of the solar spectrum. Bucking this trend, bismuth vanadate (BiVO4) has recently emerged as a leading candidate for PEC water splitting because of its ability to efficiently split water using visible light from the sun. However, little is known about the detailed electronic properties of this new and exciting material and the corresponding electronic and chemical mechanisms that enable its catalytic activity. In particular, the nature of the small electronic band gap that allows efficient absorption of visible light has seen little experimental characterization.
The researchers will use advanced microscopy, optical and x-ray experimental techniques to characterize the electronic properties of thin films and nano-structures of bismuth vanadate (BiVO4). High quality thin films will be grown using pulsed-laser deposition (PLD) while nanoparticles will be synthesized colloidally in solution. The structural properties of these films and solutions will be characterized with x-ray diffraction (XRD), 3D transmission electron microscopy (TEM) and Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR), while the electronic and chemical behavior of these films will be studied using the powerful synchrotron techniques of x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), x-ray absorption spectroscopy (XAS) and resonant inelastic x-ray scattering (RIXS). The ultimate aim of these studies will be to understand and optimize BiVO4 films and nanostructures for scalable PEC water-splitting applications.
The following two awards were made in partnership with the Bosch Energy Research Network (BERN):
NANOSTRUCTURED SULFUR ELECTRODE FOR NEXT-GENERATION LITHIUM CELLS*
Current lithium ion cells are reaching their maximum energy storage capability (~200 watt-hours per kg of battery weight) and are still not able to provide a safe, low-cost battery of sufficient energy storage capability for electric vehicles of more than 100-mile range. A new generation of a battery with an energy storage capability of at least 400 watt-hours per kg of battery weight, low cost (<$200/kWh), good safety, and low environmental impact is urgently needed. This project aims to develop a new nanostructured sulfur electrode that overcomes the current barriers to the commercial production of lithium/sulfur cells (which have a theoretical specific energy of 2680 Wh/kg, compared to about 580 Wh/kg for Li ion, and an estimated practical specific energy of 400-600 Wh/kg compared to a maximum of 200 Wh/kg for Li ion). See the figure for a comparison. The goal is to demonstrate lab cells showing a capacity of 1 amp-hr/gS (compared to < 1/5 amp-hr/g for Li ion cells) and at least 200 deep cycles. Success of this project would pave the way for commercialization of the lithium/sulfur battery, which could provide electric vehicles with a 300-mile range at a low cost, and with minimal environmental impact.
COORDINATED AGGREGATION OF DISTIBUTED RESOURCES FOR THE SMART GRID*
- Professor Kameshwar Poolla (Mechanical Engineering)
- Professor Duncan Callaway (Energy and Resources Group)
- Professor Pravin Varaiya (Electrical Engineering and Computer Science)
In the current grid, control intelligence is centralized in the System Operator [SO]. Centralized control is efficient with dispatchable generation and predictable demand. However, centralized control will become untenable when 40% of energy is drawn from variable and unpredictable renewable sources. This is because the variability in these sources must be absorbed by enormous and expensive operational reserves.
This project focuses on a system we call GRIP – Grids with Intelligent Periphery – that will enable deep penetration of renewable generation. This will be done by the coordinated aggregation of distribution- side networked resources. These include micro-generation, electricity storage, smart appliances, and responsive loads. Many of these resources are in the Bosch product portfolio. The proposed architecture adds intelligent control in the distributed periphery while respecting legacy grid markets, operations and control. A central component in our vision is the concept of a resource cluster, managed by a cluster manager. The cluster manager (a) interrogates its resources, (b) forecasts the cluster’s capabilities, (c) offers services ex ante in electricity markets to the SO, and (d) extracts these services from the resources optimally at delivery time. Organizing distributed resources into intelligently managed clusters offers major benefits to the bulk power grid in five metrics:
- Reduced need for operating reserves to absorb variability;
- Increased utilization of distribution network resources;
- Reduced need for transmission capacity to accommodate variable generation;
- Increased capacity to produce ancillary services in the Intelligent Periphery; and
- Market opportunities for coordination of renewable generation, demand and storage.
These advantages create incentives to invent, manufacture and sell devices for the Intelligent Periphery: distributed supply and storage, communication and control interfaces that make end-use appliances smart, and sensors that measure the activities in the Periphery. This, in turn, will launch the enterprises that organize the Periphery to realize and capture its advantages.
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