– Brian Patterson and Ken Sinclair
Patterson, President, EMerge Alliance
Brian Patterson is
the president of the EMerge Alliance, a 501c nonprofit network of more
than 90 organizations reinventing electric power through the
development of forward-thinking standards for the highly efficient use
of hybrid AC/DC power in a variety of buildings. These standards focus
on delivering DC power directly to digital electronics and power
storage systems, simplifying the use of locally produced clean energy
and making systems more flexible, resilient and
Expanding our ecosystem of engineering, hardware and integration
providers who can support our standards with recognized and listed
offerings in the marketplace continues to be one of the top priorities
of the EMerge Alliance.
What’s new with the EMerge
Alliance since we last spoke?
Very exciting. Please tell
us a little more about the Net Zero Zone.
Patterson: The EMerge Alliance partnered with Hanley Wood
and the U.S.
Green Building Council to unveil the world’s first Net Zero Zone at the
Greenbuild International Conference & Expo in New Orleans, Oct. 22-
24. The launch of the Net Zero Zone marked the first time a conference
and expo had exhibition space in which booths were fully powered by an
on-site microgrid. This important milestone not only sends a strong
message to the entire green building movement, but is tangible proof
that hybrid power in buildings is both possible and practical.
Designed using EMerge Alliance standards for the hybrid use of
alternating current (AC) and direct current (DC) power in buildings,
the Net Zero Zone showcased the efficiency, reliability and resiliency
of hybrid microgrids – systems of local electric power generation,
storage and distribution that can operate either in combination with
the local utility grid or in isolation from it. Booths in the Net Zero
Zone demonstrated the seamless capability of autonomously operating
both on, off and in combination with the local utility grid.
A Nextek Power Systems DC
microgrid with solar power on the balcony of the Ernest N. Morial
Convention Center in New Orleans
With the unveiling of the Net Zero
Zone, what do you think
will happen to the future of hybrid AC/DC power technology?
Patterson: As I mentioned before, the Net Zero Zone offers
proof that hybrid power in buildings is both possible and practical.
While we have nearly 50 installations of hybrid AC/DC microgrids in
operation around the globe, including a Steel Orca data center in
Princeton, NJ, the NextEnergy Center research facility in Detroit and
the State of Michigan’s Treasury building in Flint, Mich., this is the
first time we have had an opportunity to demonstrate the technology in
action in a public setting.
Our end goal has been to create a more resilient and sustainable
infrastructure for electric power in the same way the Internet created
such an infrastructure for data, and we believe that the Net Zero Zone
is an important step toward raising awareness among the green building
community. We’re planning to have an even larger Net Zero Zone presence
at Greenbuild 2015 in D.C.
You mentioned that the EMerge
Alliance also has expanded its
footprint into South Asia. What exactly was the purpose for the
expansion and what does this mean for the Alliance in terms of overall
Patterson: Global expansion has always been a goal of ours.
As you well
know, the EMerge Alliance has been advancing DC microgrids in the U.S.
since 2008 to improve the way buildings and the devices therein are
powered. When looking for ways that we could expand beyond our borders,
we immediately saw South Asia as a likely place to begin.
South Asia has one of the highest incidences of grid failure in the
industrialized world due to the region’s lack of supply to match demand
resulting from its high industrial, economic and population growth. By
advocating for and advancing the use of off-grid DC microgrids, we
believe that we can help develop a solution to many of the supply and
demand interruption problems that currently exist in un-served, rural,
low-income populations in the region.
Through the EMerge Alliance South Asian Industrializing Region (EASAIR)
chapter, we are able to offer four levels of regional membership under
the new Industrializing membership category.
This is crucial because we are now able to work with individuals who
have just as much of a passion as we do for providing electricity to
those who otherwise would be without.
What does the future look like for
the Alliance in fulfilling
your vision for reinventing electric power and developing standards for
the highly efficient use of DC power in a variety of buildings?
achieved a great deal of success in advancing our
vision, which we attribute to the hard work of our members.
The EMerge Alliance continues to work toward completing new DC power
standards to achieve net-zero-energy buildings. The EMerge Alliance
Occupied Space Standard creates an integrated, open platform for power,
interior infrastructures, controls and a wide variety of peripheral
devices to facilitate the hybrid use of AC and DC power within
commercial buildings. The EMerge Alliance Data/Telecom Center Standard
provides a practical guide for the hybrid use of DC power in data
centers, offering improved reliability and efficiency, smaller
footprint, and lower capital and installation costs.
Currently in development, the Campus Microgrid Standard will focus on
the integration of DC microgrids throughout whole buildings and the
Task Level/Furnishings Standard will define DC power use at the
desktop. Moving forward, the Alliance recently announced the beginning
of work on standards for residential buildings and plans to continue
its vision by developing standards for building services, such as HVAC,
and standards for outdoor applications like electric vehicle charging
in the near future.
As we look to the future, we will continue to identify ways in which we
can build upon our membership. Expanding our ecosystem of engineering,
hardware and integration providers who can support our standards with
recognized and listed offerings in the marketplace continues to be one
of the top priorities of the EMerge Alliance.
For more information about membership, visit http://www.emergealliance.org/Join/HowtoJoin/Overview.aspx
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