Thursday, January 24, 2013

quick link to a fun history of Invention in Oakland CA

Fun romp through Oakland California's inventive history. Kinda heavy on the food (sound right - we have serious foodies going waaaaay back. ) Not so far as he Miwok (they ate blanched acorns - yuck) but sometime after first contact things started getting yummy...

Take a look. Someday I could be on that list.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Why am I so posessed by Air Conditioning?

I finished some paperwork today and my reward is some time surfing the web looking at where folks see the energy market going... Lots of neat stuff. Like storage. Wow are folks sure storage is the next big thing. Will it ever be as cheap as demand management or load shifting? I would not have guessed so but the efficiencies some of the players are claiming and the low costs of some of these systems (liquid metal batteries and LightSail energy) might make a believer out of me. But even their new found passion for low cost seems like it might not be enough. I know, lots of "mights" in that. I'm an outsider so I need to hedge my bets.

I don't envy any of them trying to pitch that side (the utility side) of the meter. To me, bypassing the electric utilities has (if you can still keep costs down) the merit of one less middleman (or middlelady or, more likely. middlehorde) and a bit more profit to be had/split with the customer. Further you can diversify your customer base, potentially. But those guys need gear for sure.

But my sense of it is based on the broad energy appetite of buildings (and their inhabitants of course.) And that appetite can be served by electricity AND heat as a service and natural gas and heating oil and wood and even ground temperature differences.  Let's look at a pie chart, may we?

HOLD ON... Check out all the hits on Google Image search when you put in: "household energy use pie chart" Neato! It looks like everybody is doing their own work on this one. Sometimes I search for things and I find the same images used over and over by everybody. But on this, they are not just using their own colors and other decorative choices, they are using their own data too. Yay for regionally specific content... so let's grab some:

Texas? Are you there? Come in Texas! Yes I know you are the second largest State! And yes, I know you used to be a country. Can you show me your pie chart now? I'll bet it is the biggest, right?

Nice work. Y'all should have it made into silver belt buckles or something. Really smart looking...

Readers... (No Texas, I'm not making fun of you - I know you read, I want you to join in this part too) do you notice that all the parts except for appliances and lighting (aka the majority) are thermal? Half is straightup old fashioned heating things up. Water and air... then nearly 20 is cooling things off... (which can be accomplished, albeit inefficiently with heat.) The majority of the loads in Texas can be served with heat. Solar is awesome for heat.

OK... back to the pile o' pies... what looks good... ummm.... Florida? Florida!

Ok now we're styling...  tipped with a slice sliding down, how appetizing. This comes from United Solar. Florida? Why did you put in dollar amounts? Seems like it will make your graphic dated soon. But super for us, right? Again, we have all those heat serviceable loads hanging together and totaling some 77% Same 45% on the space heating and air conditioning. Something Floridians and Texans can agree on.  Lots of folks would round that up to 50%.

What might we learn from the wizard community? Wizards? What say ye? (and try to keep it in pie chart form, ok?)

Stylin'! Those drop-shadows really bring it home. Well played Home Wizard. And again, services that can boil down to heat are the majority.  Very wizardly exclusions too. What an odd batch: Kilns and digital video recorder boxes... you can't be too careful I suppose..

I'm all full up on Pie. Thanks Google, Florida, Texas and Wizards. Great work.

So, if a hybrid can address those thermal needs AND the electric needs it can earn its keep faster. But those air conditioning needs are special in the sunbelt. The are big, concentrated in just a few hours of a few months and they eat the most expensive watts the sunbelt makes: peak summer watts.

So that is why I'm on the lookout for others who would serve that market... and here is a neat story about some of the more interesting ones: Assuming you have been sedated. Which is not unlikely because here you are reading waaay down on my obscure blog. on air conditioning to watch out for.

Interesting that so many are aimed at shaving down the demand there. That is a good idea for sure but it runs the risk of joining lighting projects as the low hanging fruit of efficiency first, generation second. Great for customers, tough on me. I can take it I think. At some point, though as generation prices drop, buying prices rise and efficiency grows the lines will cross on the graph and we'll potentially have super efficient homes serving as widely distributed power plants rather than just lower net-energy users. That will be odd. Exciting and odd. IF we keep pressing.