Laura Sanchez 2017-03-07 12:56:46
I recently listened in amazement as Gustavo Dudamel conducted the Los Angeles Philharmonic in Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto in D major. As the interplay of perfectly executed notes and pleasant harmonies filled my senses, I wondered about the role a conductor plays as leader of an orchestra. I could see that each of the musicians had the score so he or she knew precisely which string to pluck and note to play. It made me curious: if you took the conductor away, could the orchestra play as beautifully on its own? Apparently I’m not the only one who wonders such things. As NPR reports, Yiannis Aloimonos, of the University of Maryland, and colleagues recently performed an experiment with a group of musicians from Ferrara, Italy. The researchers installed a tiny infrared light on the tip of the conductor’s baton and placed similar lights on the bows of the violinists in the orchestra. Infrared cameras captured the movement of lights when the conductor waved the baton and the violinists moved their bows. Computers analyzed the infrared patterns to determine whether the movements of the conductor were linked to those of the violinists. The study found that conductors were in fact leading the violinists’ movements. But the study also found more. The scientists asked two conductors to lead the same orchestra. One was a veteran who exercised strong control over the violinists, while the other was an amateur with a lighter touch. Without knowledge of who was leading, music experts listened to the performances and found the version produced by the authoritarian conductor more pleasing. It seems that centralized control created a more precise and harmonious sound. The same may be said of the way we manage and control the flow of electrons today. In this issue of Distributed Energy, we explore the myriad ways in which organizations today are orchestrating the function of diverse generation assets, energy storage technologies, and distribution architectures. As constellations of distributed energy resources are added to the current energy distribution structure, it is increasingly important for these interconnected systems, power sources, and grid-edge technologies to functionally complement one another. How do we coordinate the intricate inner-workings of separate systems with diverse generation assets? With intelligent, centralized management. As we explore in “Energy Management Systems” (page 10), the increasing complexity of power configurations today—with a mixture of generation sources, energy storage, and technology integration—makes management software imperative. One central platform that can analyze and oversee energy generation and delivery processes can provide system efficiency. From reliability, to integration, and demand management, we observe several ways in which today’s intelligent energy management platforms are helping energy consumers optimize efficiency and accomplish their business objectives by supporting harmonious operations. Today, microgrids offer organizations increased reliability and resiliency to outages, flexibility, and integration of variable renewables. In our project profile, “Microgrid Technology” (page 42), we get a behind-the-scenes look at the coordinated use of distributed energy resources at Caterpillar’s Tucson Proving Ground, where proprietary software facilitates the concurrent function of three Cat C15 diesel generator sets, 528 kWp DC photovoltaic panels, and 500 kW of short-term energy storage. This comprehensive system demonstrates the value of integrated energy resources and advanced monitoring and control technologies. Energy consultants can also help businesses coordinate diverse power sources and capitalize on energy-saving opportunities. In “Energy Consultant Checklist” (page 20) we take a close look at this important advisory role, as well as the consultant selection process. While verifying a consultant’s qualifications, past experience, technical ability, and impartiality are vital first steps, finding one that can effectively lead the charge toward energy savings is crucial. Businesses find that a knowledgeable third-party can help ensure that systems are streamlined and perfectly tuned to run smoothly, which oftentimes provides financial benefits. Coordinated technologies, synchronized networks, and consolidated data streams make it evident that intelligent organization—a well-led orchestra—can optimize and integrate individual power outputs and diverse capabilities in order to make our energy future more stable, resilient, and symphonic. What systems and strategies does your organization use to manage distributed energy resources? DE
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