The Rundown: 2011 BERC Energy Symposium


Last week, I attended the 2011 BERC Energy Symposium, on the UC Berkeley campus. There were a number of interesting folks both speaking and attending, so I’d like to give you all a sense of what was covered.

I attended a panel on energy and behavior on Friday morning – I will post some thoughts on it in the next few days.

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Coverage from The Berkeley Science Review:

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You can find more information about BERC and this year’s expo and symposium here.

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The University of California–Davis has opened its West Village development, which aims to be the largest net-zero-energy community in the country  (via The bankruptcies of three American solar power companies in the last month, including Solyndra of California… have left China’s industry with a dominant sales position — almost three-fifths of the world’s production capacity — and rapidly declining costs (via NY Times).  China was the United States’ number one source of and destination for PV products in 2010.  The U.S. imported approximately $1.4 billion worth of PV products from China, while exporting between $1.7 billion and $2.0 billion.  This resulted in a positive trade balance with China with net exports of $247 million to $540 million (via Greentech Media).

Hot Water, Lights, and Solar as a Service?


A number of start-up companies are trying to formulate a business model that sells hot water, lights, air conditioning, and solar power as a service.

The rationale is that the folks occupying buildings don’t necessarily want to own the equipment that produces hot water, light, cool air, or solar power, but they do want the end result.

The current model is that the companies (such as Skyline Innovations and Metrus Energy) retrofit commercial and industrial buildings, retain ownership of the equipment, and then charge a fee for the energy avoided. Because the fee is almost always less than the cost of the energy avoided, and because the maintenance costs of the equipment are generally included in the fee, the building owner can see further savings.

You can read more about this at Greentech Media.

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Visualizing the U.S. Power Grid


Source: NPR’s Power Hungry: Reinventing the U.S. Electric Grid series

National Public Radio produced an intriguing series in April and May of 2009 called “Power Hungry: Reinventing the U.S. Electric Grid“.  The series looked at the structural make-up of power conveyance in the U.S.-and the need for it to get ‘smarter’ about controlling and tracking consumption patterns- and, at the growing pains of the newer energy industries such as wind and solar, and how to get them online to more Americans.

But the real star of the show for us map fans is the great interactive map, pictured above. The map illustrates the three discrete “grids” that make up the U.S. power network: Western, Eastern and Texas. The map also includes existing and proposed lines,power source ratios for each state (coal, hydro, etc.) and the distribution of wind and solar plants. See the full interactive map here.

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