Month: May, 2015
Hydraulic fracturing for oil and natural gas extraction (a.k.a fracking) has definitely become a mainstream discussion topic across many parts of the US. The fracking boom has reinvigorated the energy industry in the US, moving us from a country with a rapidly declining energy supply to a potential large scale net energy exporter. While many fracking debates have focused on serious concerns around waste water injection and the potential contamination of drinking water, less focus seems to be put on the potential for fracking to cause earthquakes, at least until now.
A recent report by the US Geological Survey (USGS) appears to have tied fracking to increases in earthquakes for the first time. While the report hedges considerably with blanket statements such as “USGS’s studies suggest that the actual hydraulic fracturing process is only occasionally the direct cause of felt earthquakes”, the data supports a fairly clear picture of the impact. Using Oklahoma as an example, a recent New York Times article included glaring evidence of the connection between fracking operations and earthquakes. The two maps below document the rise in earthquakes in Oklahoma between 2004 and 2014, an increase of more than 8000% since the region’s uptick in fracking. As the data continues to support the connection between fracking and earthquakes, the industry once again finds itself pegged as a serious threat to public health and safety.
Fracking operations cover many square miles and in some states impact a very large portion of the whole state. Oklahoma’s politicians are seemingly at a loss for a solution to the earthquake problem, given that their only recourse is to restrict future permits or put an outright ban on fracking – options that amount to political suicide for many of them. The entire fracking situation makes me wonder, if toxic drinking water and earthquakes aren’t scary enough to force action, what possibly could be?
Today’s interconnected, tech-enabled world has unleashed a powerful wave of optimization in most sectors of the economy. However, much of the energy and building operations infrastructure, particularly in the multifamily realm, is still ripe for innovation. In 2015, it’s hard to believe that some utilities still get away with employing human meter readers and sending bills by fax, but we see it every day!
The energy management landscape is primed for technology disruption. Who are our favorite companies doing just that? Read on for our list of companies to watch as the energy industry embarks on an age of transformation.
LogCheck‘s app connects maintenance staff to upper management more efficiently than ever before. The digital logbook modernizes the way maintenance staff run buildings on a daily basis by allowing them to create and maintain records, review historical data and easily share that information with building management, bringing operations and maintenance into the 21st century.
Geli, short for Growing Energy Labs, Inc. provides software and business solutions to design, integrate, network and economically operate energy storage and microgrid systems. At its core, the Geli Energy Operating System (EOS) is a software platform that brings together energy storage, distributed generation, EV charging and building controls as part of the Internet of Energy. Their EOS can even make decisions on when and how to run different energy assets. For example, based on the current price of power and energy, Geli’s software automatically makes decisions on when to sell energy back to the grid, to ensure you’re getting the best possible value.
Enertiv is a new breed of electricity monitoring company. Their software platform allows you to see real-time energy performance and provides actionable insights. Using a combination of proprietary meters and sensors, as well as by integrating with existing building systems, Enertiv makes real-time energy consumption in buildings 100% transparent down to the equipment level and provides round-the-clock access to fine-grained data. By helping owners, operators, occupants, etc. visualize and digest their consumption, Enertiv empowers change in an unprecedented way.
Urjanet addresses a fundamental market need for quick and easy access to uniform utility data. By providing an automated data feed of detailed and structured utility data to energy service and software providers, Urjanet eliminates manual energy data collection and cleansing for these companies and allows them to focus their time and resources on analysis and action. It’s hard to underestimate the value of reliable, structured utility data, especially when you realize that there are 35,000 different utility companies worldwide, each with their own utility bill format!
These are just a few of our favorites, who are yours? Tell us in the comments section below!
We at Bright Power read the news of Tesla’s Powerwall with unbelievable excitement. For years, energy efficiency has been treated as either an obligation or a lofty goal, both of which has made it difficult to adopt for consumers and businesses, but it seems we’re at a turning point. Like Nest did for the thermostat, the Powerwall makes batteries sexy, cool, desirable. The reason this product will succeed is at least in part because people will want it. That’s something the efficiency market hasn’t seen and it’s something we need. The mass production of renewable technology means we are finally at a point where efficiency meets desire.
Getting the public on board is a necessary hurdle which must be crossed in order to reach the decision-making building owners who often block out the energy company ‘noise’ because it’s complicated, it’s confusing and there’s just so much of it.
Luckily, the necessary pieces to make this a sound business decision are already in place. Like the Powerwall, Bright Power’s Resilient Power Hub deploys batteries, but combines them with solar photovoltaics (PV) and combined-heat-and-power (CHP) to provide instantaneous, long-term backup power. And it pays for itself over time! The Resilient Power Hub was designed for small businesses as a part of the RISE:NYC competition (which we won, by the way) but it’s scalable to multifamily and commercial buildings where waste is big and opportunity is bigger. Bigger fish, here we come.