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The Impact of Distributed Generation

Distributed generation is getting increasing attention for impact on the electric utility industry.  DG has been the subject of a number of high profile articles in Business Week, the Wall St. Journal and several online business and industry news sites.  The Business Week article was particularly provocative, leading with the title, “Why the U.S. Power Grid’s Days Are Numbered“.

Residential DG, primarily solar, remains relatively sparse in the U.S. compared to Europe, especially Germany.  Commercial/Industrial DG is getting greater penetration with large initiatives such as Walmart installing solar on the top of every store, and low-priced natural gas leading industrial customers to generate their own power.  Although circumstances differ, the September 17, 2013, WSJ article, “In Post-Tsunami Japan, Homeowners Pull Away From Grid”, describes how Japanese homeowners could foreshadow even more disruption.  While residential fuel cells are not presently economical, higher volume production and deployment in Japan could certainly change that.  Low cost fuel cells could enable every customer with natural gas service to make the economic analysis about when or whether it’s worth turning to self generation. Read More »

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A Reporter’s Least Favorite Story

August 29, 2012 at 10:00 am PST

When I worked as a newspaper reporter, there was one type of story my fellow writers and I always dreaded.

Weather stories.  I’m not talking about covering a major event like a tornado threatening the region or about investigating the impact of a drought on the local agriculture industry.  Those are compelling stories and we were glad to do them. Read More »

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Cloudy With a Chance of Data Center Savings

June 29, 2011 at 10:00 am PST

Ah, weather – one of life’s multi-purpose tools.  Conversation filler (“Quite the weather we’re having.”), alleged indicator of world’s end and source of inspiration for comic book writers to empower heroes and villains alike.

Weather can also be a Data Center’s best friend.  Solar energy can be harvested to help generate power, for instance, such as is happening at Cisco’s Data Center in Allen, Texas.  (Look for the 100 kW solar array on the right side of the Data Center’s roof.)  Wind energy as well.  Rainwater can even be collected for cooling system usage or to irrigate landscaping.

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