Category: Research

How to meet the demand of EV infrastructure and maintain a stable grid

Andrew TangContributor – Andrew Tang is vice president of energy storage and optimization at Wärtsilä Energy, which provides solutions for renewable energy integration and EV charging infrastructure development.

As electric vehicles (EVs) become the new standard, charging infrastructure will become a commonplace detail blending into the landscape, available in a host of places from a range of providers: privately run charging stations, the office parking lot, home garages and government-provided locations to fill in the gaps. We need a new energy blueprint for the United States in order to maintain a stable grid to support this national move to EV charging.

The Biden administration announced 500,000 charging stations to be installed nationally and additional energy storage to facilitate the shift to EVs. Integrating all of this new infrastructure and transitioning requires balancing the traffic on the grid and managing increased energy demand that stretches beyond power lines and storage itself.

The majority of EV infrastructure pulls its power from the grid, which will add significant demand when it reaches scale. In an ideal situation, EV charging stations will have their own renewable power generation co-located with storage, but new programs and solutions are needed in order to make it available everywhere. A range of scenarios for how renewables can be used to power EV charging have been piloted in the U.S. in recent years. Eventually, EVs will likely even provide power to the grid.

These technological advances will happen as we progress through the energy transition; regardless, EV infrastructure will heavily rely on the U.S. grid. That makes coordination across a range of stakeholders and behavior change among the general public essential for keeping the grid stable while meeting energy demand.

The White House’s fact sheet for EV charging infrastructure points to a technical blueprint that the Department of Energy and the Electric Power Research Institute will be working on together. It is critical that utilities, energy management and storage stakeholders, and the general public be included in planning — here’s why.

Stakeholder collaboration

Charging infrastructure is currently fragmented in the U.S. Much of it is privatized and there are complaints that unless you drive a Tesla, it is hard to find charging while on the road. Some EV owners have even returned to driving gas-powered vehicles. There’s reason to be hopeful that this will rapidly change.

ChargePoint and EVgo are two companies that will likely become household names as their EV networks expand. A coalition made up of some of the largest U.S. utilities — including American Electric Power, Dominion Energy, Duke Energy, Entergy, Southern Company and the Tennessee Valley Authority — called the Electric Highway Coalition, announced plans for a regional network of charging stations spanning their utility territories.

Networks that swap out private gas stations for EV charging is one piece of the puzzle. We also need to ensure that everyone has affordable access and that charging times are staggered — this is one of the core concerns on every stakeholder’s mind. Having charging available in a range of places spreads out demand, helping keep power available and the grid balanced.

Varying consumer needs including location and housing, work schedules and economic situations require considerations and new solutions that make EVs and charging accessible to everyone. What works in the suburbs won’t suit rural or urban areas, and just imagine someone who works the night shift in a dense urban area.

Biden’s plan includes, “$4 million to encourage strong partnerships and new programs to increase workplace charging regionally or nationally, which will help increase the feasibility of [plug-in electric vehicle] ownership for consumers in underserved communities.” Partnerships and creative solutions will equally be needed.

An opportunity to fully engage technologies we already have

“Fifty percent of the reductions we have to make to get to net-zero by 2050 or 2045 are going to come from technologies that we don’t yet have,” John Kerry said recently, causing a stir. He later clarified that we also have technologies now that we need to put to work, which received less air time. In reality, we are just getting started in utilizing existing renewable and energy transition technologies; we have yet to realize their full potential.

Currently, utility-scale and distributed energy storage are used for their most simplistic capabilities, that is, jumping in when energy demand reaches its peak and helping keep the grid stable through services referred to as balancing and frequency regulation. But as renewable energy penetration increases and loads such as EVs are electrified, peak demand will be exacerbated.

The role that storage plays for EV charging stations seems well understood. On-site storage is used daily to provide power for charging cars at any given time. Utility-scale storage has the same capabilities and can be used to store and then supply renewable power to the grid in large quantities every day to help balance the demand of EVs.

A stable power system for EVs combines utilities and utility-scale storage with a network of subsystems where energy storage is co-located with EV charging. All of the systems are coordinated and synchronized to gather and dispatch energy at different times of the day based on all the factors that affect grid stability and the availability of renewable power. That synchronization is handled by intelligent energy management software that relies on sophisticated algorithms to forecast and respond to changes within fractions of a second.

This model also makes it possible to manage the cost of electricity and EV demand on the grid. Those subsystems could be municipal-owned locations in lower-income areas. Such a subsystem would collect power in its storage asset and set the price locally on its own terms. These systems could incentivize residents to power up there at certain times of the day in order to make charging more affordable by providing an alternative to the real-time cost of electricity during peak demand when using a home outlet, for example.

Behavior change

The greatest challenge for utilities will be how to manage EV loads and motivate people to stagger charging their vehicles, rather than everyone waiting until they are home in the evening during off-peak renewable generation periods. If everyone plugged in at the same time, we’d end up cooking dinner in the dark.

While there’s been talk of incentivizing the public to charge at different times and spread out demand, motivators vary among demographics. With the ability to charge at home and skip a trip to the “gas station” — or “power station,” as it may be referred to in the future — many people will choose convenience over cost.

The way we currently operate, individual energy usage seems like an independent, isolated event to consumers and households. EVs will require everyone — from utilities and private charging stations to consumers — to be more aware of demand on the grid and act more as communities sharing energy.

Thus, a diverse charging network alone won’t solve the issue of overtaxing the grid. A combination of a new blueprint for managing energy on the grid plus behaviour change is needed.

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Solar energy start-up Aurora hits Unicorn Status after $250 Million Funding Round

Aurora Solar, a software platform for solar sales and design that allows solar professionals to remotely determine various factors key to an installation: from how many solar panels will fit on a property, to the project’s energy production potential and battery needs, to the financial savings that switching to solar will bring to a client. 

Using features such as automated photovoltaic system design, lidar-based shade analysis and AI-assisted 3-D modeling, a solar installer using the Aurora software can save money as well as the time normally required to travel to the location of the installation, capturing its sunlight exposure and processing the results, ahead of providing a customer with a quote. 

Aurora Software illustration
Aurora’s solar design software allows for remote installation planning.

It’s a popular proposition: Aurora claims that more than 40,000 projects are created on its platform each week. Investors are increasingly paying attention, too. Aurora has raised a total $320 million in the past two years after nearly five years of bootstrapping. The startup announced today the closure of a $250 million Series C round—a fivefold increase since its $50 million Series B round announced in November. It is a testament to the increasing attractiveness of the solar industry, where costs for photovoltaic panels have decreased by more than 80% in the past decade, according to some estimates

And even if recent research indicates a reversal in the collapse of solar power price due to rising costs of its key raw material, polysilicon, Aurora’s cofounders say their technology can help push costs related to solar panel installation down further. “If you can be more accurate, and you know what system size fits how much you’re going to produce, what the savings are going to be, you can quote with much more confidence, and this is also going to reduce costs,” says Hopper, adding: “If we can make a dent in soft costs, that would be massive.”

The project was found by Sam Adeyemo and Chris Hopper in 2012 when they were M.B.A. students at Stanford University.

Aurora’s platform, which is powered by a variety of data sources, has been used so far to complete 5 million projects, Adeyemo tells Forbes—95% based in the U.S., with international demand picking up. With every new project, the platform acquires more data. “Increasingly, as our product develops, we’re also generating data that we can use to make the product better. That’s actually one of the most exciting aspects of what we’re doing,” he says. 

The automation potential and its application to other services is also what excites backers like Nomad. “As a software-as-a-service company, Aurora continues to outperform in all traditional metrics and, more importantly, continues to grow at rates that we only see in early-stage companies. The opportunity is beyond their initial SaaS product but in becoming the operating system for the solar industry,” he says.

Solar energy Aurora Cofounders Samuel Adeyemo and Christopher Hooper.
Samuel Adeyemo and Christopher Hooper met while earning their M.B.A.s at Stanford University and founded Aurora in 2013.

This solar energy project is expected to thrive more strongly in the future. Blockinvest Ventures is hereby to help you understand more regarding the investment industry with conscientious advice. We hope that you can feel the article was helpful and don’t forget to subscribe our website for further news!

The Future of Blockchain Technology

Blockchain is one of the most talked-about technologies in business right now. Blockchain tech has the potential to drive major changes and create new opportunities across industries – from banking and cybersecurity to intellectual property and healthcare. But not everyone agrees on what role blockchain should play in the future. What is blockchain, and what impact will it have on business going forward?

The Easiest Way To Invest In Blockchain Technologies

How Blockchain Works

A blockchain is a decentralized database – an electronically distributed ledger or list of records that is accessible to various users. Blockchains use cryptography to log, process, and verify every transaction, making them secure, permanent, and transparent.

There are two general categories of blockchain:

  • Permissionless, which anyone can join
  • Permissioned, which requires participants to be authenticated by the person or group managing it (this category is further divided into private and community blockchain networks)

Who is Using Blockchain Already

Bitcoin is the most well-known example of blockchain technology, but it is joined by a growing number of early adopters. For example, Google, Goldman Sachs, Visa, and Deloitte are investing in blockchain projects. And businesses working on blockchain based services include:

  • Spotify, to manage copyrights
  • IBM, to build a tracking tool for shipping companies and retail chains
  • Eastman Kodak, to create storage for stock photos

What the Future Holds for Blockchain

Blockchain is an emerging technology, so predictions are still mixed about its potential.

In a TechRepublic Research study, 70% of professionals who responded said they hadn’t used blockchain. But 64% of said that they expect blockchain to affect their industry in some way, and most predict a positive result.

A recent Trend Insight Report from analyst firm Gartner made the following forecast:

  • Through 2022, only 10% of enterprises will achieve any radical transformation by using blockchain
  • By 2022, at least one innovative business built on blockchain technology will be worth $10 billion
  • By 2026, the business value added by blockchain will grow to just over $360 billion, then by 2030 grow to more than $3.1 trillion

Cybersecurity is one of the most promising areas of projected growth for blockchain technology. An ongoing challenge for businesses of all sizes is data tampering. Blockchain technology can be used to prevent tampering, keeping data secure and allowing participants to verify a file’s authenticity.

“We believe that blockchain technology will be transformative in the tech and IT sector in the coming years, similar to what the internet did for the world back in the 90s and early 2000s,”  said John Zanni, President of the Acronis Foundation, in Forbes. “Today, part of our storage and backup software lets users notarize any digital data and put that fingerprint on the blockchain to ensure it can’t be tampered with.”

Blockinvest Ventures is hereby to help you understand more regarding the investment industry with conscientious advice. We hope that you can feel the article was helpful and don’t forget to subscribe our website for further news!

The Effect of DeFi on Financial Services

The financial services sector has been largely unaffected by software and the internet. Sure, market preferences have shifted, and banks are doing what they can to balance the online experience of the increasingly personalized, on-demand internet providers to which consumers have become accustomed — but business models have not.

This is in stark contrast to the total chaos faced by many other sectors, ranging from shopping to hospitality to newspapers. The music business is the clearest indication of this, as shown by the following sales breakdown over the last 17 years:

Physical sales were practically the only way to make money in music in 2001. By 2018, subscription revenue had increased by 34% year on year and accounted for almost half of global revenue, leaving physical revenues as a longing, derelict shell of their former selves. Today’s industry leaders (Apple, Spotify, Amazon, and YouTube) were not in the music business at the turn of the century. The internet altered the music industry’s economics, encouraging new competitors with orthogonal business models to enter the market.

Business structures in financial markets, on the other hand, have not undergone a similar transition. Though FinTech systems are used by a significant proportion of retail customers in particular countries, most notably China, FinTech companies have mainly sought new niches — for example, P2P lending sites, investing, cross-border transfers, and underserved clients, such as small enterprises or individuals without a credit background — or they have collaborated with incumbents or major tech firms. Cooperation provides FinTech start-ups with customer access (via white-label, co-branded products) while reducing their regulatory enforcement burden in many situations.

As a result, incremental upgrades, such as improved user interfaces and alternative data outlets on the edges, are not strong enough drivers to unseat big financial institutions. To disrupt the financial services sector, the underlying networks must be re-architected to bear orders of magnitude less risk. Only then would an alternate business model gain enough of a strategic edge to capture a commanding market share.

Blockchains are distinct from other open source programs in that they preserve a shared state. They work as global accounting machines, processing financial transfers and storing the results in stable, public data structures. Both transactions can be validated by ensuring that a record of them exists on the blockchain. This increases the social scalability of financial systems: Since blockchain transaction parties use a shared accounting scheme, there are fewer opportunities for them to injure one another. Blockchain networks can handle larger numbers of individuals on a global scale by offering better protective assurances.

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