Category: research

Center for Emerging Energy Technologies Joins MSL

The Center for Emerging Energy Technologies (CEET) at the University of New Mexico has joined MSL, the inaugural research university in the consortium. CEET facilitates collaborative research in the inherently interdisciplinary field of emerging energy technologies, a perfect complement to MSL’s cross-sector structure. The Center is a meeting place for faculty, students and practitioners from the School of Engineering, other UNM divisions, and participants outside the university to work together to find the solutions to one of society’s most pressing needs: sustainable energy. In particular, CEET provides an environment to foster large-scale research efforts, involving Universities, Industry and the National Labs.

CEET strives to support the full cycle of innovation, from the conception of a specific energy material to its manufacture and deployment in various forms of energy infrastructure, across the three main domains of materials, devices, and systems. Research groups working in basic scientific discovery are cognizant of efforts in devices and systems, while at the other end of the scale, systems researchers are aware of developing trends in materials and devices. Current research activities include a project sponsored by the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), under which CEET is helping the utility industry to catalog and maintain millions of power distribution assets.

CEET also operates the microgrid research and testing facilities at the Mesa del Sol mixed commercial-residential development in Albuquerque, a significant addition to MSL’s facilities network. The fully functioning microgrid was originally created by Japan’s New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO). The system comprises a 50 kW parking lot canopy solar PV system, and a microgrid enclosure containing an 80 kW fuel cell, a 240 kW natural gas-powered generator, a lead-acid battery bank, hot and cold thermal storage, an absorption chiller, and an electric air-cooled chiller for shifting thermal loads.

The Albuquerque-Santa Fe-Los Alamos corridor features a dense concentration of intellectual capital and assets. Joining MSL Members Sandia and Los Alamos National Labs and the Los Alamos Department of Public Utilities, CEET completes a highly effective nexus working in the microgrid domain, and will offer additional collaborative opportunities to the full consortium.



Hisham Zerriffi Joins MSL Advisors

MSL is pleased to announce that Dr. Hisham Zerriffi has joined our Advisors, further strengthening our resources focused on solutions to energy poverty and clean energy development in the emerging economies. Hisham is an  Associate Professor in Forest Resources Management, Faculty of Forestry, at UBC. Hisham’s research is at the intersection of technology, energy and the environment, with a particular focus on rural areas of the developing world. (more…)



NREL Teams with MSL, SFCC for Campus Microgrid

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) is collaborating with MSL and Santa Fe Community College (SFCC) in their efforts to develop an advanced campus-wide microgrid for training, research, and testing and validation. NREL is a member of MSL, and SFCC is a founding MSL partner with responsibility for workforce and professional development initiatives.

The campus microgrid will be a state-of-the-art facility, unique among community colleges and comparable to university campus installations, with an emphasis on supporting the college’s educational mission, sustainability goals, operational efficiencies, and MSL’s strategic objectives. It will link existing assets, including a 1.5 megawatt photovoltaic array and a district heating and cooling system, with new technology that is capable of demonstrating the full range of advanced microgrid functionality. (more…)



Former EPRI CEO Joins MSL Advisors

Kurt Yeager, the former President and Chief Executive Officer of the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), has joined MSL as an Advisor. During his distinguished career at EPRI, he led the development of the Electricity Technology Roadmap and the Electricity Sector Framework for the Future. Following his tenure at EPRI, he led the Galvin Electricity Initiative, and has also worked with the MITRE Corporation, the EPA Office of Research, and the International Institute of Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), for which he was the convening lead author for the Global Energy Assessment. (more…)



MSL Welcomes New Advisor

We are exceptionally pleased to welcome Seth Blumsack, Ph.D. as an MSL Advisor. Seth is Associate Professor of Energy Policy and Economics in the John and Willie Leone Family Department of Energy and Mineral Engineering at The Pennsylvania State University. He is also Chair of the Energy Business and Finance program; Faculty member in the Operations Research program at Penn State University; Co-Director of the Penn State Energy and Environmental Economics and Policy Initiative; and is the John T. Ryan Faculty Fellow in the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences. He also holds a position as an Adjunct Research Professor with the Carnegie Mellon Electricity Industry Center and the Centre for Energy and Mineral Economics at the Curtin University of Technology in Australia.

Following a fruitful collaboration at a Santa Fe Institute workshop, co-chaired by Seth, on “Reinventing the Grid,” in which MSL Managing Director David Breecker was a participant, Seth agreed to join MSL’s advisory panel; and MSL is now working with him on plans for one or more extended cross-sector working groups and a 2016 workshop on the same topic. (more…)



MSL Director Helps “Reinvent the Grid”

MSL Managing Director David Breecker participated in the Santa Fe Institute’s invitational workshop, “Reinventing the Grid: Designing Resilient, Adaptive and Creative Power Structures” in April. Co-hosted by two visiting researchers on sabbatical at SFI, Seth Blumsack (Pennsylvania State University) and Paul Hines (University of Vermont), along with SFI internal faculty member Cris Moore, the workshop brought together a fascinatingly diverse set of experts from a range of relevant fields to consider the future of our power systems. These included industry and utility representatives, research scientists and engineers, policy and regulatory experts, ecologists, search algorithm designers, statistical physicists, and network theorists among others.

As the abstract states, “Electric power grids are complex infrastructures that operate across large swaths of space and time. A power grid’s planning and operation timescales can span up to twelve orders of magnitude: from milliseconds to decades. The largest networks, such as the Eastern US and European Interconnections, synchronize power plants across many thousands of kilometers. And this spatial integration is increasing: in many locations, the locus of control is moving from local electric utilities to regional entities. (more…)



Human Factors Report Available

Human, Social, And Cultural Practices Work Advances

MSL is pleased to announce that its inaugural research publication is available for download: Human, Social, And Cultural Practices For Rural Electrification Using Microgrids develops a critical set of insights and tools to ensure the success of rural microgrid (and other technology) deployments based on essential aspects of community engagement and input. This work was the subject of the MSL-hosted workshop in May 2014, and formed part of a Stage 1 feasibility study for rural deployments in India. MSL is now part of a consortium comprising MSL Members General MicroGrids, Inc. and The Energy and Resources Institute, along with Alstom Grid USA, India Smart Grid Forum, and India’s TERRE Policy Center, which is assembling funding for Stage 2 design and deployment work. In addition, MSL is developing the Center for Participatory Energy Practice (CPEP), and through it will support training and community engagement work in the field. (more…)



Energy Workshop, Design Thinking

In support of its human factors work on the DOE-India microgrid pilot feasibility study, MSL convened a cross-sector workshop of a dozen experts drawn from a broad range of  relevant disciplines and on-the-ground experience. The highly successful workshop was co-facilitated and hosted by the Santa Fe Art Institute (an affiliate of MSL partner institution the Santa Fe Innovation Park) and its director Sanjit Sethi, an expert in “design thinking” and its application to many problem-solving settings. It featured a user-centered design approach to the Human, Social, and Cultural (“HSC”) factors bearing on successful technology and energy projects in rural community settings. Joining Sanjit in leading the session were MSL General Manager David Breecker, and Christian Casillas, who recently completed his Ph.D. at the Energy and Resources Group of the University of California, Berkeley. Christian did his field work in community participatory energy planning in Nicaragua, and also has practical experience in India. (more…)



MSL, Universities Chosen for DOE Submission

A team comprising MSL, the University of New Mexico’s Center for Emerging Energy Technologies, NM State University, and NM Tech has been selected to submit the New Mexico proposal to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science, under its current EPSCoR funding opportunity. DOE’s Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (DOE EPSCoR) is a federal-state partnership program designed to enhance the capabilities of designated states and territories to conduct sustainable and nationally competitive energy-related research. DOE EPSCoR addresses this mission by fostering competitions for scientific and engineering research in states and territories that have demonstrated a commitment to develop their research bases and to improve the quality of science and engineering research conducted at their universities and colleges. The New Mexico proposal will focus the state’s considerable assets and capabilities on accelerating the deployment of Utility Distribution Microgrids, including technical and engineering challenges, standardization goals, and policy, regulatory, and social factors. Utility Distribution Microgrids will be critical enabling infrastructure for the nation’s overall grid modernization and smart grid efforts. (more…)