Laura Sanchez 2016-11-16 10:18:07
Technology shapes language. New discoveries, industries, products, and experiences make new words necessary for expression. In the digital era, “googling” has become a verb, while existing words like “cloud,” “hashtag,” and “tablet,” have developed entirely new meanings. Linguistic evolution allows us to bring the world into sharper focus and to more precisely name the devices and technologies born of our ingenuity. Shifts in energy technology have always been accompanied by linguistic changes. In Energy Transitions, Peter O’Conner explains that when energy generation in the US shifted from 70% wood-burning in 1870, to 70% coal-burning in 1900, to 70% oil and gas-fueled in 1960, the changes were accompanied by new machines for generation and transmission, as well as new words to describe their functions. In 1749 Benjamin Franklin, first used the term “battery” to describe a set of linked capacitors that he charged with current and discharged experimentally. The birth of the first transformer in 1884 not only proved the feasibility of AC electric power transmission over long distances, it made necessary a new lexicon. Prior to 1889, who had heard of a turbogenerator or could fathom large amounts of power originating from diverse locations? As energy technologies have emerged to meet the changing demands for energy services, language has developed concurrently. This parallel evolution continues today as advances in distributed energy resources, energy storage products, cleaner-burning fuels, and improved data management drive monumental industry shifts. We find ourselves in the midst of a metamorphosis of traditional power architectures, equipment, policies, and pronouns. We’re pleased to announce that our publication is evolving along with energy technology. As you may have noticed, the title on the cover has shifted back to the magazine’s original name, Distributed Energy, which it was called for the first 10 years of its life. In 2013, it became Business Energy because at the time, “distributed energy” was a relatively industry-specific term. However, today’s prevalence of distributed energy resources (DERs) and grid-edge technologies has made “distributed energy” a part of our modern vocabulary. We’ve chosen to return to our linguistic roots because we feel that Distributed Energy best describes our editorial focus, while encapsulating a sense of precision and relevance that our readers will value. Within this issue, we honor the energy industry’s evolution with stories that address the dynamic shifts currently taking place across its landscape. Our hope is to embrace change as an organization while initiating conversations that catalyze further technological innovation and industry growth. As our world becomes more electron-dependent, reliable power generation becomes increasingly critical in all kinds of climates and circumstances. Our cover story, “Gas Turbine Design for Challenging Environments” (page 12), identifies design adaptations that provide equipment protection and optimized engine performance in extreme settings from cold environments in which anti-icing is necessary, to hot, dusty conditions, and humid coastal climates. In “A Fuel Phase Transition” (page 20) we address an impactful change within the industry—the rise of compressed natural gas and liquid propane gas for energy applications. We explore the energy content, chemical structures, and engine maintenance implications of several fuels to provide a clear, apples-to-apples comparison that allows our readers to make informed fuel-selection decisions. In “Integrative Solutions” (page 34), we look at the diverse configurations powered by today’s gensets. Improvements in fuel flexibility, portability, and ability to run parallel allow them to support a variety of contemporary configurations and make them ultra-resilient. The new generation of gensets is making innovative, previously unimaginable energy pathways possible. We see first-hand the power of change in the technological improvements made in switchgear technology. Today’s switchgear can communicate to the UPS it’s serving, offering current and voltage data to determine how effectively the system is operating. “Switchgear Intelligence” (page 28) details the extraordinary performance improvements afforded by this advancement. It’s an exhilarating moment in distributed energy’s history—one that marks the birth of new technologies, as well as the industry’s movement toward intelligent energy solutions. Each of us is a participant in this electron-inspired progression. As we adopt current technologies and terminologies, weave their efficiencies into our lives, and speak their syllables, we help propel powerful transformations forward. How is your organization embracing these changes? DE
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