Research Opportunity Notices (RONs) describe areas of research that are of interest and importance to CIEE's Enabling Technologies Development program. The California Energy Commission's PIER program directs CIEE to solicit proposals when funding is available; at that time, funding opportunities are announced here for proposals.
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Enabling Technologies for Legacy Buildings
Legacy buildings would be more energy-efficient if they were retrofitted with modern digital control systems to implement low-energy strategies. However, the cost of installing a wired control system after a building has been constructed can be prohibitive. Emerging technologies — including wireless communications networks and MEMS (micro electromechanical systems) sensors with communications, computation, and self-generating power — could make such control-system retrofits more cost effective. When funding is available, CIEE accepts proposals for research and development of applications to make building operations more energy efficient and provide them with an automatic demand response capability.
Enabling Technologies for the Distribution Grid
Utilities have been automating the operation of the electricity distribution grid for enhanced reliability and more efficient operation and maintenance. Deploying automation on a wider scale, however, can yield more dramatic improvements. Automation will also equip the grid to handle current flows from distributed energy resources, a priority today. Past proposals have advanced research and development of technologies that will contribute to a more cost-effective, efficient, and reliable distribution grid.
Control and Communications Integration
California’s physical infrastructure for supplying electricity currently consists of a multitude of separate information networks: systems for managing the transmission grid, maintaining the distribution grid, monitoring substations, reading meters automatically, and providing energy services and resource aggregation. A statewide or systemwide strategy to integrate control and communications is needed to orchestrate these different networks and, ultimately, implement systemwide demand response and other innovations. CIEE fosters research and development that will support the creation of new, innovative operational strategies resulting from an integrated control and communications infrastructure.
Many networks comprise the communications infrastructure for the electric power marketplace, including the communications networks for the transmission and distribution grids, the Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) network, and the Automatic Meter Reading (AMR) network, as well as enterprise IT networks. The capability to have two-way, real-time communications with the electricity end-user is key to implementing demand response and the dynamic tariffs that will support it. When funding is available, proposals are solicited for research and development of technologies for a network architecture that will help create this capability.
Historically, utilities have employed separate, isolated information systems in each of their departments, with hardware and information databases chosen and developed to best to support each department's functions. Today, the legacy is disconnected islands of information within utilities. Project proposals further research and development of technologies to better integrate utility information systems.
Long-used electromechanical (EM) electricity meters do not support multiple tariff structures, external communications, or useful information for electricity users that could enable demand response. Solid-state meters are beginning to replace EM meters, but most of these support only a single tariff structure, which, along with other meter functions, cannot be modified easily or remotely. CIEE has advanced research projects aimed at developing technologies that will provide the communications and tariff support features lacking in both EM and solid-state meters.
Electromechanical and electronic thermostats available today cannot communicate with other devices to exchange information that could intelligently modify their set-points to maximize energy efficiency. Projects have furthered research and development of technologies to support the creation of an inexpensive, integrated solution for intelligent temperature measuring and reporting platforms. Such platforms could act as a space thermostat or as part of a group of sensing nodes that function together to enable intelligent control for another device.