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Final Stage Of MIT Climate CoLab Awards For KIC InnoEnergy Students



robert fisk lecture By Frank Hebbert Via Flickr

A project from two master’s students on KIC InnoEnergy’s MSc SELECT programme received the highest number of votes in Energy Supply 2016 category to advance to the final of the MIT Climate CoLab Grand Challenge.

The Collective Power Platform, created by Michiel Roelofs and Nikodem Bienia, is a local peer-to-peer energy trading market for prosumers (electricity customers who not only use but also produce energy themselves).

Votes for the project from the Climate CoLab community – which boasts some 75,000 members – far exceeded the competition during the initial rounds of the contest, leading to it winning the Popular Choice Award for the energy supply category. As a result, the pair are automatically entered into the final stage of the competition taking place at the MIT Climate CoLab Crowds & Climate conference (28th – 29th September) in Boston, USA. They will join winners from other categories on the MIT campus to present their work and compete for a grand prize of USD 10,000.

Speaking about the project Michiel Roelofs, says:

“The knowledge and inspiration we gained during the first year of our KIC InnoEnergy MSc SELECT course was a major contributing factor to bringing the idea ‘to life’. The Master’s programme encourages us to think more broadly about future energy systems and global responsibility. As a result, the initial idea of The Collective Power Platform was born and we began to work on the project during our course where we gained unique insights into future energy markets and systems.”

Michiel Roelofs : The mentoring and support we then received from our teachers is what inspired us to take part in Climate CoLab and we couldn’t be more excited to be going to the final.

The platform creates a virtual utility or power collective where people can trade energy produced in the same local area or city. Any power demand that is not covered by local production can then be bought from the energy wholesale markets by the platform, which represents the power collective in such transactions.

The concept also results in a positive effect on CO2 levels by, for instance, encouraging members of the power collective to become prosumers by investing in small-scale renewable technology.

Nikodem Bienia adds:

“We wanted to create something that empowered local electricity consumers and producers to make informed choices about the energy they use. We think that a grid can only be considered to be truly smart if the people within it are enabled to make smart decisions. We’re thrilled that we’ve now got the chance to take our idea to the next level and compete at such a prestigious event.”

KIC InnoEnergy’s CEO, Diego Pavia says:

“The whole idea behind our Master’s school is to make the links between the academic and the commercial, to encourage students to think about the market applications for the engineering concepts they’re working on. Michiel and Nikodem have created something that could really make a difference in terms of managing local grids and empowering consumers. The fact that they’re now on their way to Boston shows that their concept has real merit on the international stage. We’ll all be cheering them on in September and I wish them every success.”



Are the UK Governments Plans for the Energy Sector Smart?



The revolution in the energy sector marches on, wind turbines and solar panels are harnessing more renewable energy than ever before – so where is it all leading?

The UK government have recently announced plans to modernise the way we produce, store and use electricity. And, if realised, the plans could be just the thing to bring the energy sector in line with 21st century technology and ideologies.

Central to the plans is an initiative that will see smart meters installed in homes and businesses the length and breadth of the country – and their aim? To create an environment where electricity can be managed more efficiently.

The news has prompted some speculation about how energy suppliers will react and many are predicting a price war. This could benefit consumers of electricity and investors, many of whom may be looking to make a profit by trading energy company shares online using platforms such as Oanda – but the potential for good news doesn’t end there.

Introducing New Technology

The plan, titled Smart Systems and Flexibility is being rolled out in the hope that it will have a positive impact in three core areas.

  • To offer consumers greater control by making smart meters available for all homes and businesses by 2020. Energy users will be able to monitor, control and record the amount of energy they use.
  • Incentivise energy suppliers to change the manner in which they buy electricity, to offer more smart tariffs and more off-peak periods for energy consumption.
  • Introduce new standards for electrical appliances – it is hoped that the new wave of appliances will recognise when electricity is at its cheapest and at its most expensive and respond accordingly.

How the Plans Will Affect Solar Energy

Around 7 million houses in the UK have solar panels and the government say that their plan will benefit them as they will be able to store electricity on batteries. The stored energy can then be used by the household and excess energy can be exported to the national grid – in this instance lower tariffs or even payment for the excess energy will bring down annual costs significantly.

The rate of return on energy exported to the national grid is currently between 6% and 10%, but there are many variables to take into account, such as, the cost of battery storage and light levels. Still, those with state-of-the-art solar electricity systems could end up with an annual profit after selling their excess energy.

The Internet of Things

Much of what the plans set out to achieve are linked to the now ubiquitous “internet of things” – where, for example, appliances and heating systems are connected to the internet in order to make them function more smartly.

Companies like Hive have already made great inroads into this type of technology, but the road that the government plans are heading down, will, potentially, go much further -blockchain technology looms and has already proved to be a game changer in the world of currency.

Blockchain Technology

It has already been suggested that the peer to peer selling of energy and exporting it to the national grid may eventually be done using blockchain technology.

“The blockchain is an incorruptible digital ledger of economic transactions that can be programmed to record not just financial transactions but virtually everything of value.”

Don and Alex Tapscott, Blockchain Revolution (2016)

The upshot of the government’s plans for the revolution of the energy sector, is that technology will play an indelible role in making it more efficient, more flexible and ultimately more sustainable.

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4 Case Studies on the Benefits of Solar Energy




Demand for solar energy is growing at a surprising rate. New figures from SolarPower Europe show that solar energy production has risen 50% since the summer of 2016.

However, many people are still skeptical of the benefits of solar energy.Does it actually make a significant reduction in our carbon footprint? Is it actually cost-effective for the company over the long-run?

A number of case studies have been conducted, which indicate solar energy can be enormously beneficial. Here are some of the most compelling studies on the subject.

1.     Boulder Nissan

When you think of companies that leverage solar power, car dealerships probably aren’t the first ones that come to mind. However, Boulder Nissan is highly committed to promoting green energy. They worked with Independent Power Systems to setup a number of solar cells. Here were the results:

  • Boulder Nissan has reduced coal generated electricity by 65%.
  • They are on track to run on 100% renewable energy within the next 13 years.
  • Boulder Nissan reduced CO2 emissions by 416,000 lbs. within the first year after installing their solar panels.

This is one of the most impressive solar energy case studies a small business has published in recent years. It shows that even small companies in rural communities can make a major difference by adapting solar energy.

2.     Valley Electric Association

In 2015, the Valley Electric Association (VEA) created an 80-acre solar garden. Before retiring from the legislature, U.S. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid praised the new project as a way to make the state more energy dependent and reduce our carbon footprint.

“This facility will provide its customers with the opportunity to purchase 100 percent of their electricity from clean energy produced in Nevada,” Reid told reporters with the Pahrump Valley Times. “That’s a step forward for the Silver State, but it also proves that utilities can work with customers to provide clean renewable energy that they demand.”

The solar energy that VEA produced was drastically higher than anyone would have predicted. SolarWorld estimates that the solar garden created 32,680,000 kwh every year, which was enough to power nearly 4,000 homes.

This was a major undertaking for a purple state, which may inspire their peers throughout the Midwest to develop solar gardens of their own. It will reduce dependency on the electric grid, which is a problem for many remote states in the central part of the country.

3.     Las Vegas Casinos

A number of Las Vegas casinos have started investing in solar panels over the last couple of years. The Guardian reports that many of these casinos have cut costs considerably. Some of them are even selling the energy back to the grid.

“It’s no accident that we put the array on top of a conference center. This is good business for us,” Cindy Ortega, chief sustainability officer at MGM Resorts told Guardian reporters. “We are looking at leaving the power system, and one of the reasons for that is we can procure more renewable energy on the open market.”

There have been many benefits for casinos using solar energy. They are some of the most energy-intensive institutions in the world, so this has helped them become much more cost-effective. It also helps minimize disruptions to their customers learning online keno strategies in the event of any problems with the electric grid.

4.     Boston College

Boston College has been committed to many green initiatives over the years. A group of researchers experimented with solar cells on different parts of the campus to see where they could produce the most electricity. They discovered that the best locationwas at St. Clement’sHall. The solar cells there dramatically. It would also reduce CO2 emissions by 521,702 lbs. a year and be enough to save 10,869 trees.

Boston College is exploring new ways to expand their usage of solar cells. They may be able to invest in more effective solar panels that can generate far more solar energy.

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