I am excited to announce that GeoOutlook published an article on our installation in Ennis, Montana in the innovation issue!
In Tesla announcement April 2015, Elon Musk just unveiled his plan for the future of energy.
According to Elon, the future of energy will continue to put BTU’s and KWH’s in the same bag and seek to transition the world to renewable energy via solar P.V. and wind.
Fourteen minutes into his presentation Elon describes how many of his batteries will be needed to accomplish this fossil fuel free future. Since I am fairly certain that this analysis meets the space conditioning and water heating demands with a 1-1 electrical aspect I am guessing his estimate is off by at least 50%. In other words, if site-sourced thermal energy management was included in the analysis then much fewer KWH would need to be generated and stored to meet the BTU demands.
I share Elon’s desire for a fossil fuel free future and I agree that distributed electrical storage and site generation will be a part of that architecture. However, any grand scale vision that completely ignores the difference between thermal energy and other end uses is, I think, woefully incomplete.Read More
As I’ve said before, I get the same arguments over and over again from the two main industries that have established positions that we deviate from. The geo industry acts as the arbiters of how water source heat pumps are applied and the solar thermal industry acts as arbiters of how solar thermal collectors are applied. There is no shortage of furrowed brows when thermal battery applications are being discussed. In essence, each one wants us to justify our seat at their table.
I am not playing that game. I don’t feel any need to justify our applications in their existing contexts. We are defining a new context. The new context is source energy management. In this new context, the old applications are obsolete. The context is not a GSHP plus a solar thermal system. The existing industry experts are not capable of rendering a verdict on thermal battery based source energy management systems. They’ve never experienced them.
I will not use a single source system frame of reference in a defense of a multi-source system. It makes no sense. Take the “Solar Thermal is Dead” article in Green Building Advisor as an example. Since the context of that article is based on the current solar thermal industries applications I can’t find all that much to disagree with. Change the application and the conclusion would be entirely different. However make the application look like advocating adding the current context “geothermal” heat pumps to current context solar “hot water” and that sounds like an expensive and complex system with merit that is marginal at best. Good thing that is not what we’re talking about.
Context is everything. The table we are already sitting at is called source energy management. If the other trades would like to come join us we’d be happy to have em.Read More
If you look at the HVAC industry you’ll find that energy management is not an accurate description of what they “do”. In rare cases some version of it happens but really only as an add on to an existing systems controls. “Control” can mean many things and what it generally means to the HVAC industry is “it functions”.
Now that we have this emerging world of connected devices the optimized management of energy, rather than the control of the system, ought to be the focus.
As a small example, it is up to the HVAC installer to set the set-points and the differentials on a boiler or a heat pump (and size the equipment to begin with). The goal is to limit short cycling but still provide adequate supply temperature to the distribution (and capacity). Sometimes this includes an outdoor temp factor, sometimes not. The point is that wherever the set-points and differentials are set will affect the system performance but all the customer usually knows is if the system is functioning or not. Also, the contractor may be doing what he thinks is best but there is rarely any objective measure in place to verify the performance is optimal.
Even when systems do have data logging and are being monitored and controlled effectively consider that they are still generally “blind” designs to begin with. In other words, they were not modeled and optimized on software prior to being configured in the physical world. So they may be effectively managing what they are, but really the design is somebody’s guess. Who’s to say the configuration is ideal if you don’t have anything else to compare it to?
This becomes all the more relevant when systems are multi-source/sink and have thermal storage elements. The room for optimizing a design is significant and so is the possibility of poor designs and mismanaged control.
Software defined pre-configured configurations and a management service to support them is the future of HVAC.