by Melissa W. Sais
The University of New Mexico will train three engineering graduate students this year in the rapidly emerging area of sustainable energy analytics with help from a PNM contribution of $250,000 to the UNM Foundation.
The students and project collaborators will set up and monitor Distributed Energy Resource – Customer Adoption Model (DER-CAM) services in several of PNM’s New Mexico business customers. The research team expects that participating businesses will see a cost savings of between 10 and 20 percent by using the information provided by the services to reduce energy consumption and to draw electrical power from PNM at times when the cost of power is less expensive.
“The basic assumption in this research is that distributed energy resources are at the beginning of an exponential expansion,” said Andrea Mammoli, director of the Center for Emerging Energy Technologies at UNM. “The partnership with PNM is of fundamental importance. We will gain valuable experience in applying the service to various facilities in the PNM service territory, and in so doing streamline the process of implementing this service to a large number of future customers.”
“This project will provide hands-on advanced learning opportunities for students, businesses and the industry,” added Pat Vincent-Collawn, PNM chairman, president and CEO. “The issues being studied have real-world implications and could result in a number of beneficial applications to help businesses use energy more efficiently.”
The project, called Cloud-based Energy REsource Scheduling, assesses whether the service can be used by facility operators with some assistance from technical advisors. Researchers also will look at whether there are unintended consequences to the flow of power on the electrical grid when individual facilities manage their own electrical power consumption for significantly greater efficiency.
“One of the objectives of this study is to simulate potential pitfalls, and develop solutions that work for both the customer and the utility,” Mammoli said.
The optimization system UNM and PNM will be using was developed at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratories. Through the PNM funding, two graduate students will spend time at Berkeley this summer learning how to operate the DER-CAM system. The students also will work with UNM staff members who run a similar system at the UNM Mechanical Engineering Building to understand details of the database that is critical to operating the system.
For more information about this story, contact Jennifer Kemp at the UNM Foundation, (505) 277-4503.