TBEIC Services

Accelerating the path to market

Though the issues faced by any product commercialization effort are complex, one of the most time-consuming and logistically daunting challenges for energy-solutions companies is access to grid compatibility and “readiness” evaluation early in the development process.  This is particularly true for companies in the earlier stages of the commercialization lifecycle.  The key TBEIC value propositions for helping companies to accelerate time-to-market include:


(1) Early-Stage Access:  As early stage technologists and companies work their way to market, a major barrier many will face is their “path to the grid.”  As such, the primary goal of this project is to build a business and technical model that actively engages technologies during the development stage, providing insights into the requirements and technological expertise needed to make a technology “grid ready” and to develop new approaches to optimal integration with the grid.  Moreover, TBEIC’s core technology design enable it to serve as a development and launch point for technologies that would, upon further maturation, potentially migrate to any of these partner facilities.  By providing broad, multi-disciplinary input into the development process, these early technologies can move much more quickly toward the grid, leveraging these partner resources opportunistically. 
(2) Proving New Technology Reliability, Performance, and Cost:  TBEIC is fundamentally aimed at speeding the path-to-grid by providing an environment where intermediate systems technologies can be tuned, configured and improved to provide the right grid interface for a given technology.  While new approaches to energy generation and use have been made in power electronics technologies in the last decade, this field provides tremendous potential to improve the overall operation of the grid as an integrated system. In particular, TBEIC will focus on helping bring academia, industry and utilities together as companies attempt to develop and demonstrate systems in terms of reliability, performance, and cost.  Some of the important issues associated with these intermediate systems technologies are as follows:

    • Safety:  Safety of renewable energy sources extends to the physical safety of power generation, storage, transmission, distribution, monitoring, and usage equipment and facilities.  There are standards in place applicable to the power ratings expected to be present in the smart grid testbed.  Special consideration must be given to insure new equipment such as prototype equipment to be installed and tested on the smart grid testbed operates with 100% safety.  The smart grid test facility can serve a valuable role in alerting equipment developers, operators, and service staff with applicable safety standards and safe operating procedures.  Safety will be paramount with all operations of the center and with every interaction of staff, users or developers that interact with the with grid testbed.  Commercially available safety and access protection sensors and controls will be included in any safety equipment and procedures.
    • Security: Security is related to safety and is designed to insure the reliable continued operation of the grid and grid system components.  The scope of safety includes control of physical access, protection from logical access (e.g. cyber-access) and the prevention of disruption of service.  A suite of physical access control and monitoring devices will be installed to insure access to the grid facility and infrastructure is allowed only for qualified personnel.   Access to design, configuration, operation, and control will be maintained through a rigorous system of password protection, biometric validation tools, firewalls and reporting techniques.  A surveillance system will also be implemented to detect and respond to the sensed (or suspected) compromise in system security.
Reliability & Performance:

New technologies – whether active or passive - will be able to demonstrate reliability from a range of perspectives, including those of the technology integrator and T&D network operations.  Efficiency needs to be as high as possible in order to save energy, reduce cooling requirements,

    • and improve device performance.  Advanced hardware and control strategies are needed to take full advantage of power electronics.

Interoperability is a key component of reliability and performance:  components on the smart grid such as renewable energy sources, traditional energy sources, energy storage devices, switchgear, appliances, and other grid equipment must communicate and operate as a coordinated entity in spite of equipment going on-line and off-line and other dynamic changes in power quality, demand or availability.  Equipment at the Center will adhere to the existing communications and power interface standards such as IEC 61850.  Further, the center will have a certified engineer qualified to provide training on these standards.  Center facilities will also be used to verify that proper interoperability standards are met.  Consulting services will be available to assist new developers in implementing the needed interoperability standards.
An important role for the Center is to actively contribute to the development, validation, and implementation of emerging standards and smart devices.  The Center will be a focal point for education and implementation of component of the emerging Smart Grid Interoperability Standard (IEEE P2030™/D.4.0, Draft Guide for the Smart Grid Interoperability of Energy Technology and Information Technology Operation With the Electric Power System (EPS), and End-Use Applications and Loads, draft version 12-18,2010).  The Center will also support interoperability standards development and implementation, including power management and power usage. (e.g. ISO TC/242 Energy Management Systems  - Requirements with Guidance for Use; IEC201X Technical Specification: Energy efficiency and Eco-design requirements for Power electronics, Switchgear, Controlgear, and Power drive systems and their industrial applications.).
Monitoring the evolution of different smart grid standards and defining development programs to reflect the future state of interoperability standards can be a daunting task.  The Center is in a unique position to convey valuable information to Ohio developers to help them plan their product design and development in an efficient manner and more readily adhere to the relevant standards in this dynamic arena.  Lastly, the Center can provide unique and valuable consulting services for product developers and can provide a testbed to confirm compliance  Such a facility does not exist anywhere today.

    • Cost:  The power conversion system hardware costs in many systems range from 25 to 50% of the total costs. If a significant reduction of hardware component costs, improved reliability, multi-use PCS topology, and higher quality components could be achieved via collaborative research and development programs, the benefits of intermediate systems technologies could be fully realized.  TBEIC resources and technological depth of the Technical Advisory Group can help guide these lower cost developments without sacrificing key systems objectives such as standardization, modularity, costs, and maintenance, etc.

(3)Robust Power and Communications Infrastructure for Grid-Compatibility Evaluation (see Technical Section below)
Commercialization Partnerships:  Operating as a Not-for-profit, TBEIC will participate in the commercialization of emerging energy technologies at three levels: (1) as an incubator and accelerator of early stage ventures and technologies; (2) as a service provider to industry players seeking to validate and refine their technologies still in development; and (3) as a collaboration-builder and network hub for energy development initiatives across the North East Ohio region. For the purposes of this proposal, the key emphasis lies in TBEIC’s ability to facilitate and drive technology development by providing a basis to prove “grid readiness.”

(5)“Neutrality” and Multi-Sector Collaborative Support.  Operating as a Not-for-Profit corporation, TBEIC is able to bring together a rich, multi-sector set of collaborators and network of expertise upon which early-stage companies may draw for support. 
An on-ramp to the Grid:  A major hurdle facing early stage energy technology developers is the task of proving the grid-readiness of their technologies.  As early stage technologists and companies work their way to market, a major barrier many will face is their “path to the grid.”  As such, the primary goal of this project is to build a business and technical model that actively engages technologies during the development stage, providing nsights into the requirements and technological expertise needed to make a technology “grid ready” and to develop new approaches to optimal integration with the grid.
By focusing on intermediate grid technologies (i.e., the technologies that help connect and control devices on the grid), TBEIC will make it possible for energy management technologies, renewable power generation, energy storage and others to more quickly develop and prove grid readiness.  A key feature of the TBEIC grid-enabled infrastructure will be its robust power electronics base.  Power electronics utilize semiconductor switching devices to control electrical power flow and convert it from one form to another to meet specific needs. The conversion process requires some essential hardware: a control system, semiconductor switches, packaging, thermal management systems, passive components (such as capacitors, inductors, and transformers), protection devices, DC and AC disconnects, and enclosures. This hardware is referred to collectively as a power conversion system (PCS). In the electric grid, power electronics have two main uses: (1) power flow control and (2) interface with electric generation and storage.  The primary focus of the TBEIC test bed is on the latter – building a test and development ground for the design, demonstration and optimization of technologies that are either connected to or serve as key components of the integrated grid infrastructure.

By accelerating proof of the key grid-acceptability criteria, including cost, performance and efficiency, TBEIC can help early stage technologists most – during the “Valley of Death”, where technology investors will require validated proof of concept in order to proceed with investment and support and, as importantly, where customers will require proof of grid readiness in order to adopt technology and drive revenue.
The specific job creation potential of TBEIC four major economic sectors: (1) Renewable energy technologies; (2) Smart Grid technologies; and (3) Energy Integration and support technologies (e.g., Power Electronics).  Each one of these four sectors is growing at a rate well above the average of the national rate economy. The Advanced Energy Systems Market sector is a combination of new power generation systems (solar, wind, fuel cells), mass storage devices, and component manufacturing. The overall market growth in the segment is over 8 % per year, and the wind turbine portion of the market grew over 40% in the past two years. Ohio has an emerging strength in this sector – with growing solar power hub in the Toledo area, fuel cells in Cleveland and Columbus, and mature corporations (e.g., Rockwell Automation, R.W. Beckett, Lincoln Electric, Parker Hannifin, and Timken) that either currently supply or are developing new products for the advanced energy industry supply chain. Currently, the global market for alternative energy systems (generation only) is $ 3:9 billion and is growing at a rate of approximately 16 %/yr. The volume of the US market in this area is almost $ 1:0 billion per year with a growth rate in base generation of approximately 40% – an unsustainable rate of growth, but clearly indicating a market place that is generating huge amount of growth. The underlying dynamic for this growth is a combination of escalating energy costs (oil is at $ 106 per barrel today) and growing concern over CO2 emissions. The net result is that this is a dynamic and growing market segment with little likelihood of a significant change in drivers in the near-term. TBEIC contributes to this market place in a number of ways. Component performance, cost and efficiency are all driving considerations in improving the grid-readiness of these technologies and are key barriers to adoption.  Current estimates vary, but as of 2007, Ohio was projected to generate about $ 75 million in the Advanced Energy Sector, with a supporting a growth rate of 12%.

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