Think of this as demand response, minus the daily urgency.
EPS, which makes energy efficiency and control systems for the food industry, has managed permanently to shift nearly 1.5 megawatts of demand to off-peak times, saving customers $232,000 annually. EPS essentially consults with companies to determine what functions can be shifted toward off-peak periods and then implements the energy-savings plan. In this case, it shifted power for an icemaker, a cold storage unit and a produce storage facility.
EPS' underlying technology is similar conceptually to the building management systems promoted by Cimetrics and others, but EPS has tailored its systems for the needs of people with large industrial boilers and other heavy machinery. They work with a significant number of breweries and dairies: at one dairy, the system cut electrical consumption by 22.6 percent. Last year alone, EPS raised $30 million. Apparently, there's money in them thar freezer cases.
Elsewhere in the world:
--Lumenergi has won the contract to network the lights in two federal buildings that are being retrofitted: the Philip Burton Building in San Francisco and the Ron Dellums Building in Oakland. Lumenergi has devised a way to dim and network fluorescent lights, a trickier task than you might think. Fluorescent tubes light about 85 percent of U.S. office buildings and they aren't employed in a particularly efficient manner. Only a small percentage (one to ten percent, depending on whose figures you rely on) of lights in commercial buildings are networked. That means they can't be shut off or dimmed remotely.
Dimming could save a lot of power. Lumenergi CEO Mike D'Amour (his real name) says that his company's technology can cut power consumption for lights by 50 percent to 70 percent. You could dim lights by 20 percent and almost no one would notice, he's told me. Lumenergi competes with Adura, and over time the two will likely try to control heating and air conditioning systems, the other big power hog in buildings, or team up with companies that control HVAC to provide a complete building solution.
--Recurrent Energy has signed a deal with Southern California Edison to sell all the power from three solar plants it is building in California's Inland Empire. The solar projects will have a combined output of 50 megawatts when completed in 2013.
--Nissan will work with city officials and utilities to get an electric charging network for cars built in Orlando. That way you won't have to worry about running out of power between Disney World and the gator zoo. In the U.S., Nissan -- along with promoting standard charging stations -- wants to help deploy high voltage (480v) charging stations that can charge 80 percent of a battery in less than half an hour. However, the company will not test battery swapping stations in the U.S. yet.
--Marco DeMiroz will join Soliant, a solar concentrator company, assuming the role of COO. DeMiroz has been at Trinity Ventures (years before that, he worked at General Magic) and last year stepped in as interim CEO of Soliant. Soliant makes concentrators tailored to big, flat roofs, like the kind you see on top of Wal-Marts. The target geography is the Southwest. However, investors have begun to look skeptically at concentrators. The decline in silicon prices and panels have made this a difficult market. Still, millions have been invested in the concept and target marketing may help to revive the sector. Other names to watch: Skyline Solar (a cheap concentrator made from bent sheet metal) and Cool Earth Solar (Mylar concentrators with pumps attached, an appendage that raises questions).
--The UK will put $35 million into wave power. The companies that will share the pool include Pelamis (which had quite a bit of trouble in the last year despite actually getting a large system in the water in 2008), Aquamarine and Marine Current Turbines. Scotland and Ireland could one day get a substantial percentage of their energy (as in, like, double digits) from wave power, but the technology remains in the early stages and transmission to non-coastal areas remains an issue.
--And if you're a landlord or REIT in Seattle, get ready to disclose. The mayor signed an ordinance that requires energy consumption for condos, apartments and multi-family dwellings to be disclosed starting in 2012. Commercial building owners will have to comply in 2011, as dictated by a similar law that was recently passed.