TechnologyI discovered a novel design for Sustainable Energy Generations Systems and released my proprietary rights into the public domain. AMA!
Oct 11th 2017 by LiveWithEarth • 13 Questions • 2635 Points
While completing my MSEE degree, I got an idea for how to design sustainable energy generation systems. To give some background, the electric power system delivers electricity to homes and buildings to power televisions, refrigerators, computers, and every other device that plugs into an outlet. A sustainable energy generation system is an off-grid (stand-alone) electric power system that can independently provide reliable electric power to a home/building from renewable energy resources. The main challenge in designing sustainable energy generation systems, i.e. solar and battery storage, is determining how much solar and how much storage are required to reliably supply power year-round.
By considering oversized PV, I pioneered an algorithm that approximates the energy storage requirements for increasingly oversized PV. The result was a graph of all possible configurations of oversized PV and storage, and I found an inverse relationship between PV and storage. Here is an animation of what this looks like.
This relationship is important to optimize for the cheapest system. Since PV and energy storage have different costs, the algorithm computes the price for each system and determines the most cost-effective configuration shown by the red “x”. This data represents the results for a residential home; however, this solution is scalable to any size.
After graduating, I founded OffGrid, an organization to design sustainable energy generation systems. My work involved working on the design, patent application, and funding opportunities. Unfortunately, I was unable to secure funding for this organization and found a job a few months after. I uploaded the algorithm on GitHub and released all potential proprietary rights, pertaining to the system, into the public domain. AMA
I'm a retired EE that spent my career in low voltage and have been out of the game for a long time, so I can't really keep up with the technical nomenclature anymore, but I'm curious...How does your algorithm account for the decreased efficiency and storage capacity of batteries over time? Are you simply relying on scheduled maintenance or do you actually account for it over time with a margin of error or other mechanism?
The algorithm requires the expected time-series power demand of the building and the expected time-series power supply of the PVs. Using this data, the algorithm simulates the time-series stored energy for increasingly oversized PV. The result is used to determine the energy storage requirements.
Currently, the algorithm doesn't account for decreased efficiency over time, but that is something which can be incorporated into the algorithm.
Barely skimmed the doc cause low on time... But first question: why is the graph for such large quantities of power generation? Is there a graph for if I had a single house? So x axis scale being 0-20kW and y axis scale being 0-50kWh?
I expressed the PV system in terms of expected annual generation. I did this to compare the expected annual generation to the expected annual consumption of the building which was 10MWh. As you can see from the graph, the smallest PV system size would require an expected annual generation greater than 10MWh because the energy storage system has losses.
Ever think about working in Dubai? I work for the group that built the sustainable city here and they are opening up a consulting arm. I'm sure they have room for your talents. At the minimum, you should book a speech at our innovation center when it's completed!
Yes, that sounds exciting and something I'd consider. I would like to hear more.
If I know people (and trust me I don't) once is never enough. What's next on your list of cool things to do?
Last year I was enlightened when I read "The Problem of Increasing Human Energy with Special Reference to the Harnessing of the Sun's Energy" by Nikola Tesla. After reading this, I was able to see the energy problem through the eyes of Nikola Tesla, and it gave me an insight into how he thought.
After we solve the sustainable energy problem here on earth, the next coolest thing that I might work on is Planetary Energy Harvesting Systems.