SunTech Drive, Stanford University and Google have announced a partnership focusing on energy. The project is tied to the Department of Energy’s NODES (Networks of Distributed Energy Systems) initiative. The objective is to coordinate and control consumer loads and distributed energy resources (DERs) out to the absolute edge of the grid. SunTech Drive’s Pico family of universal variable speed motor controllers will be the end nodes driving each of the individual loads, upgrading installed systems to “smart” loads.
According to Ana Radovanovic, research scientist at Google, the envisioned technology could revolutionize the IoT control in the domain of electric motors, by enabling a bi-directional, cloud-based communication and control for a wide variety of residential and industrial loads.
The project will also involve developing mechanisms for electric utilities to interact with individual loads using metadata schemas for both demand reduction and diversion load control.
Google’s Foray into Energy
This isn’t Google’s first energy-based project. In August 2017, Google’s parent company Alphabet announced it was hoping to revolutionize renewable energy storage using vats of salt and antifreeze.
Alphabet’s secretive research lab, simply named “X,” is developing a system for storing renewable energy that would otherwise be wasted. The project, named “Malta,” is hoping its energy storage systems “has the potential to last longer than lithium-ion batteries and compete on price with new hydroelectric plants and other existing clean energy storage methods, according to X executives and researchers,” Bloomberg reported.
The system, which can be scaled to energy demands, absorbs energy in the form of electricity and turns it into streams of hot and cold air. The hot air heats up the salt, while the cold air cools the antifreeze. Because salt maintains its temperature well, the system can store energy for hours, or even days.
In September of this year, the tech giant announced it had signed a 10-year renewable energy deal to obtain power from three new wind farms being built in Finland. The wind energy will be used to power one of its data centers.
Google said that the Finnish deal is the first where it is buying power from European projects that will not receive any government subsidies.
The combined capacity of the three farms will be 190 megawatts (MW) and will be built by renewable energy developers Neoen of France and Germany’s CPC and WPD, the news site reports.