Netanya college campus to become self-sustainable micro-grid

Energy Ministry establishing administration for Sustainability in Cities project.

Solar panel 390 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Solar panel 390
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The president of a college in Netanya intends to transform his campus into a self-sustainable island to demonstrate how a “smart” electricity microgrid can function successfully in an urban community.
Prof. Gady Golan, president of the ORT Hermelin Academic College of Engineering and Technology, presented his vision for the project at a session on smart energy management at the Electricity 2013: Jerusalem International Convention for Innovation and Business Development in Electricity and Energy – organized by the Society of Electrical and Electronics Engineers in Israel.
During the smart energy panel, experts from government institutions, academia and the business world discussed the necessary components for establishing smart energy systems that facilitate optimized energy use through constant consumer and producer communication yet are financially viable and can stand up to cybersecurity threats.
By transforming the ORT Hermelin campus into a functional microgrid, the college’s faculty and students hope to reveal how electric power can be delivered precisely to the modern consumer exactly according to request and without power failures or extraneous costs.
“We are not the pioneers worldwide,” Golan said, referencing the Illinois Institute of Technology and other global campuses that have done the same. “But here I’d like to be the pioneer. We wish to demonstrate that electric power can be delivered to the ‘procumer’ precisely upon request without power failures and increases in costs.”
Golan used the word “procumer” to highlight the more active, less traditional role that the producer-consumer or professional- consumer will more and more be taking in the electricity market.
At ORT Hermelin, an intelligent power system with solar cells and wind turbines in addition to the conventional electricity grid will be managed on a micro-grid cloud system and will allow for storage of unused energy, Golan explained.
“The project will eliminate electric outages and moderate the ever growing demand in electricity,” he said.
The project is on its way to becoming a reality and already has several financial backers from both the governmental and corporate world, Golan told session participants. One company that will likely be part of the plans is Nation-E, an Israeli firm that uses island methodologies to optimize energy production and consumption, with a focus on energy cybersecurity, energy storage systems and energy risk management solutions.
Smarter energy management is critical because “if you do not know how to manage your energy, energy goes into areas you never expected,” stressed Daniel Jammer, the president and founder of Nation-E.
For example, he explained, approximately 20 percent of energy production in Germany is not actually monetized, equivalent to losses of 20 billion euros.
“This is the entire capacity of our Israeli grid,” Jammer said.
His dream and a core goal of his company has been “to create a bank of energy” with reliable storage as well as provide a constant knowledge to the consumer and producer as to what is taking place with their physical energy assets, he said.
To do so, proper communication, management and security is obligatory, Jammer explained.
Jammer presented some of his technologies, such as a device called the Cerebrum, which provides a virtual power that involves the same infrastructure used by the telecommunications industry, yet with a basis in energy.
“Energy needs to be what telecommunications is today – a network, a dynamic network where we can optimize constantly,” he said. “This dynamic is the future.”
Shlomo Wald, the chief scientist of the National Infrastructure, Energy and Water Ministry, stressed that he “disliked the notion ‘smart’” in describing smart energy management, smart cities and other such phrases. Instead, he explained, he and his ministry colleagues are calling a new smart city administration that they are developing Sustainability in Urban Areas or Sustainability in Cities – which they have informally abbreviated to “sexy.”
“When you say smart, you claim that what was done before was not so smart,” Wald said, observing that the current topology for electricity grid infrastructure has successfully sustained itself for 150 years.
“We have now a new scenario.”
Some challenges that the world is facing including the fact that there no longer are sustainable supplies of electricity as well as a minimal amount of resources, and planners have to integrate new types of producers and provide tools for future generations, according to Wald.
“The smart grid should give the answer to all these things,” he said.
Wald advocated a distributed management of Israel’s future smart grids, similar to the way the Internet is managed, whereas Israel Electric Corporation senior executive vice president Yasha Hain advocated one unit acting as a manager.
In developing smart grids for electricity, Wald stressed that it is crucial to take into account that electricity systems and their use must tie in seamlessly with other types of infrastructure, such as water, operating like one functional human body.
“We have to think about the nexus between all the markets,” he said, emphasizing the importance of “holistic design.”
All in all, in the Sustainability in Cities project, Wald said that he and his colleagues have come up with about 450 parameters that they want to consider while building the city, in order to incorporate all the markets and shareholders.
As part of the project, they would like to see a new neighborhood – such as a specific one planned for Dimona – built based on the parameters, as well as make improvements to an existing neighborhood.
Throughout the entire process, Wald stressed that his administration will be in constant contact and collaboration with the designers and planners.
“We want to change the way of designing, change the way of planning,” he said.