Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Major SPIDERS Update, Advancing Energy Security & Barbarians at the Gate

This mega post just in from Mr. Harold Sanborn, Program Manager at Construction Engineering Research Lab (CERL), US Army and technical manager for the SPIDERS Joint Capability Technology Demonstration (JCTD).  It's chock full of good news and you'll want to read it top-to-bottom to get the full picture. ab

Starting from the vantage point (30 years of civil service) that "no good idea goes unpunished" allows me the freedom to work complex problems knowing that the threat of doom comes with the territory. Being twisted and enjoying pain keeps me in the zone.

SPIDERS Phase I has finished the "history tour" as we codify and publish the lessons learned. First lesson, see sentence one... Acquisition of both Military Construction and Research and Development on the same contract at a firm fixed price (not a cost plus AFRL contract) isn't done every day. The Joint Capability Technology Demonstration (JCTD) guidance for a minimum of Technology Readiness Level 6 as a pre-condition, to accelerate the deployment of technologies, while needing to leave behind a functioning, sustainable and useful real property improvement in energy security, stretches one's mind. Arguably we accomplished what we set out to do.

Also note, my satisfaction in acquisition isn't simply schedule or performance, it includes beating back the DoD scope creep mentality. Yes we made some modifications, but we stuck to the facts on the ground. Sometimes doing the right thing isn't sexy enough. SPIDERS results demonstrated additional capability for Joint Base Pear Harbor Hickam; like synchronizing with the utility service power signal while pushing electricity back on to the base distribution system; also operational viewing of other circuits in the substation in addition to the one controlled by the micro-grid. Add in power factor improvements and the opportunity to test generators at load, (a novel concept - I jest) and over the life of the micro-grid, good design offers rare positive outcomes in "the law of unintended consequences."

The Navy customer (Navy Facility Command Pacific/Hawaii "rocks" - can I send my resume? ... you are short handed) provided positive and constructive feedback throughout the acquisition, execution of MILCON, and through the technical and operational demonstrations at Joint Base Pearl Harbor Hickam (JBPHH). While some straphangers suggest there are a few loose ends, they remain on the administrative side of discussions. The only item where Navy utility folks have any residual concerns for on-going operations and maintenance is keeping their workforce trained and ready to employ SPIDERS and dealing with new technology after the buzz wears off. Our contractor (Burns & McDonnell) continues the dialog of training and post contract support. Two devices at JBPHH have had heat related challenges, and we're recommending we paint the boxes white instead of Navy utility brown.

To date, there isn't a system owner. Controls, hardware and software are not static and require some continuing education and occasional attention. DoD will face this challenge across the board as we take a collection of electrical appliances and make them a systems engineered smart grid. Oops, did I say smart grid?  I meant distributed energy management system. The good news is SPIDERS showed the truth in our motto: do no harm. During our operational demonstration, the software "burped" and the system went back to traditional stand alone back up power. The amazing thing; the 24/7 operators (blue collar Navy civilian) saw the system degrade in their 24/7 ops center without tripping loads or causing other electrical problems. Their after action dialog shows true customer values: a system that does what it says it will do. Huh, we really can tell software to behave in a customer friendly manner. I'm guessing that's something that micro-soft would like to understand.

National Defense University and FEMP hosted a 1/2 day industry/government event where the deliverables of SPIDERS were discussed. Many industry teams following micro-grids were absent. Seventy plus government and industry folks heard the highlights and only two questions seemed tough, both focused on either O&M/Technology Transfer Agreements or cost. Well, given that we had the JCTD infrastructure, oversight, and controls, we accomplished what more traditional JCTD's (weapon systems oriented) choke on, which is manage requirements to a schedule and deliver performance. The systems engineering didn't start with "how much funding do we have....?" It started with what are the circuit requirements, what assets are available, and what improvements might we make in both resiliency and endurance. This occasionally cast me as the bad cop (a role I relish) insisting on managing the systems engineering process rather than inserting magic where the facts bumped into reality.

Cyber critique continues to bubble in the background. Growing areas of concern were anticipated, just not the ramp rate by which DoD is expecting trouble. PACOM (a combatant command and one of two SPIDERS Operational Managers) has invested many dollars and man hours in working closely with DHS and DOE labs to promote a comprehensive set of industrial controls cyber protection test(s). Phase I SPIDERS didn't require external hacking as part of the operational demonstration, yet in the end, we performed a cyber experiment that showed promise in our path forward. Phases II (Fort Carson CO) and III (USMC Camp Smith HI) offer expanded cyber experimentation and we plan to stay current with DoD and DHS process to validate their application in the real world of installation industrial controls.

Overall, micro-grids are still not valued by most for their energy security. To answer the question of worth for micro-grids, phase III SPIDERS will work to communicate with the local utility service, and provide ancillary services when connected to the utility service; and also offer other measurements to adjust power quality and controls while waiting for the anticipated utility outage so that the security aspect of islanding comes into play. 

In conversations with DoD authorities it slowly becomes apparent that non-technical issues remain the major impediment to deploying micro-grids. Whether it's "zero capital cost" or understandings at the operations and maintenance level of military installations, the constriction of applying new technologies on existing infrastructure is artificially drawn by existing lanes well grooved in the road.

Life cycle configuration management of smart systems might need a DoD PM to solve deployment issues. Frankly, it isn't an ownership definition that challenges DoD, although that's often the red herring slow thinking folks suggest. Ownership needs simple definitions that already exist in DoD. Accountable, physical, and custodial owners of distributed energy management systems will likely need to agree on metrics to begin programming for their responsibilities. Seems logical and straight forward, guess that's why it won't work ... but I digress.

The take away, no, the bottom line is that smart systems are coming and we can manage those if we apply just a modicum of intellectual activity up front. SPIDERS isn't the first micro-grid. SPIDERS is a systems engineered solution using hardware and controls to insert new technologies to installation transmission and distribution systems to enable more energy security from existing and planned assets. How much is it worth? I'll answer that question in a future DoD Energy Blog ... I will.


Larita paban said...

The energy performance certificate shall not in itself demands on the building, but shall inform potential buyers or tenants about the energy performance of the building by an energetic score (prefix) to be granted to the building. This score is calculated based on the characteristics of the building such as the materials and insulation of walls and roof, windows and doors, and installations for heating and hot water.

John Michle said...

The facts and the other informative points mentioned here are quite considerable and to the point as well, would be so far better idea to look for more of these kind to have more efficient results regarding your business needs.

Service Management Software