In 1990, the Schatz Center installed 192 ARCO M75 photovoltaic (PV) modules at the HSU Telonicher Marine Lab in Trinidad, California, 150 m off the Pacific Ocean. Current voltage (IV) tests were performed on each module prior to the array’s construction in 1990, again in 2001 and 2010, and most recently in 2016 after the array was decommissioned.
The Sustainable Futures Speaker Series is cosponsored by the Schatz Energy Research Center and HSU’s Environment & Community graduate program. For details on upcoming events or to request accessibility accommodations, email us at email@example.com or call (707) 826-4345.
On Wednesday, August 9 at 10 am (Pacific), join SERC Research Engineer Mark Severy alongside Sevda Alanya, Richard Bergman, and Ted Bilek of the USDA Forest Service’s Forest Products Laboratory as they discuss results from a life cycle assessment and economic analysis of producing torrefied biomass from forest residues.
To register, visit the Waste to Wisdom site.
SERC is researching solar product use in rural Uganda, to better understand what motivates and empowers low-income energy users to adopt off-grid energy solutions. This year-long study utilizes quantitative and qualitative research methods to explore customer adoption and financing behavior for off-grid energy solutions.
The Energy Ladder Research project is an initiative of the UNCDF’s CleanStart Programme, launched in partnership with SolarAid/Acumen.
This month, SERC Research Engineer Jason McMack and SERC Research Assistant Jeff Mosbacher depart for new adventures at the Colorado School of Mines. Both Jason and Jeff are graduates of the HSU Environmental Resources Engineering program, and will be pursuing master’s degrees in Mechanical Engineering at the School of Mines. Jason began as a SERC docent in 2014, and then joined the off-grid energy access team in the summer of 2015. He completed his bachelor’s in December 2016, and has since been employed full-time at the lab. Jeff joined SERC in 2015 as a student research assistant, working on a project examining the quality of LED lights sold in Bangladesh. Jeff has continued to work with the off-grid energy access team since, and completed his bachelor’s this May. We wish them both all the best in Colorado!
In this week’s New Yorker magazine (issue: June 26, 2017), Bill McKibben reports on solar power development in sub-Saharan Africa, including the role of quality assurance testing offered by SERC and other labs in the Lighting Global network.
Clarification (for the New Yorker piece): SERC Director Dr. Arne Jacobson played a leading role in the creation and implementation of Lighting Global, a program jointly managed by the International Finance Corporation and World Bank. The international testing labs are part of the Lighting Global network, not subsidiaries of the Schatz Energy Research Center (SERC). SERC provides setup and training for Lighting Global affiliated labs in Africa and Asia, as well as off-grid product testing and standards development.
SERC presented at the Waste to Wisdom annual meeting in Sacramento on May 17th. This public meeting brought together over one hundred academics, policymakers, project developers, community members, and equipment manufacturers from around the country to discuss the opportunities and challenges to increasing utilization of forest residues.
Arne Jacobson, David Carter, and Mark Severy presented on Biomass Conversion Technologies: System Performance, Case Studies, and Implications for California’s Forest Management. Using examples from our research, SERC engineers described the state of biomass conversion technologies with a focus on biochar, torrefied biomass, and densified briquette production. Our presentation hinged around identifying and discussing methods for overcoming the current challenges of scale, site infrastructure, feedstock quality, environmental safety, and market development that are holding back widespread adoption of these biomass conversion technologies.
We are pleased to welcome Mallik Angalakudati of PG&E as the next speaker in the Spring 2017 Sustainable Futures Speaker Series. Mallik will speak on Thursday, March 2 from 5:30 to 7:00 PM in Founders Hall 118 (FH118) on the HSU campus. The title of his talk is “Changing Energy Landscape in California.”
Mallik Angalakudati serves as Vice President for Corporate Strategy at PG&E’s Corporation. In this role, Mallik works closely with PG&E senior leadership to develop utility and holding company strategies. Prior to this role, he oversaw investment planning, resource management, strategy, process and quality excellence and contract management functions as Vice President, Gas Business Performance Management. Mallik came to PG&E with more than 15 years’ experience in the energy industry.
Prior to joining PG&E, Mallik worked at National Grid in both operational as well as process leadership positions. His experience also includes management consulting and energy pricing and risk management. He holds an MBA from the University of Michigan, an MS in Environmental Engineering from the University of North Carolina, and a BS in Civil Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology. Mallik also earned an executive education certificate in Leading Change and Organizational Renewal from the Harvard Business School and a Master Blackbelt certification from the Villanova University. Mallik serves on the Operating Committee of MIT’s Leaders for Global Operations program, Utility Analytics Institute Advisory Board and the Advisory Board of the School of Economics and Business Administration at St. Mary’s College.
California is going through a major electricity sector transition that involves a strong shift toward renewable energy, energy efficiency, and demand management. PG&E has one of the cleanest electricity portfolios in the U.S. among major utilities, and it delivers more renewable power to customers than any other utility in the country. Mallik is at the forefront of PG&E strategic planning efforts, and his talk promises to provide key insights about California’s energy future.
As we move into autumn, I would like to take time to thank the SERC team and our many excellent project partners. We are in the midst of one of the busiest and most productive years in our history. The successes we have had are a result of the hard and good work of our stellar team and our collaborators.
Over the past year we have worked on over 20 projects involving more than 60 collaborators. This work spans four continents, including efforts in Africa (Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Uganda, and Nigeria), Asia (India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Myanmar, and China), Europe (UK, Netherlands, and Germany), and North America (USA). While I cannot thank each of our partners by name, several deserve special mention, including the Redwood Coast Energy Authority, the Blue Lake Rancheria, Siemens, Pacific Gas and Electric, Idaho National Laboratory, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Global LEAP, everyone from the BRDI/Waste to Wisdom team, and colleagues from the World Bank Group’s Lighting Global, Lighting Africa, and Lighting Asia programs.
As you can imagine, our team has been very busy. While everyone has pulled their weight and more, special thanks are due in several areas. First, our operations and administrative team, led by Allison Hansberry, has worked tirelessly to keep everything moving forward effectively. I give my sincere gratitude for their efforts and good work. Second, SERC’s project managers have managed substantial responsibility with grace and poise. Dave Carter, Jim Zoellick, Jerome Carman, and Meg Harper merit special thanks for carrying heavy project management loads in difficult circumstances. Third, Steve Karp and his team at the Humboldt State University Sponsored Programs Foundation deserve credit for all the support they provide during both the pre- and post-award periods. We all appreciate their efforts; we could not succeed without them. Fourth, the SERC Advisory Board has helped us immensely through input that ranges from strategic guidance to networking support. Their assistance has been invaluable. Fifth, I want to thank everyone on the SERC team who has stepped up and helped with fundraising and proposal writing over the past few months, despite all the other work on their collective plates. While many have contributed, several people in particular have played leadership roles in this push, including Peter Lehman, Kevin Fingerman, Jim Zoellick, Jerome Carman, Meg Harper, Richa Goyal, and Mark Severy. I also want to thank all of the agencies that have supported our work over the past year. Here, the California Energy Commission, International Finance Corporation, World Bank, and U.S. Department of Energy merit special mention for being among our leading funders.
I will close with some staff transitions. First, I am pleased to welcome our new faculty members; Peter Alstone and Liza Boyle joined us in August. Peter has a joint appointment between SERC and the Environmental Resources Engineering (ERE) Department, while Liza is a Faculty Research Associate at SERC and a member of the ERE Department. Both are already engaged in activities at SERC, and we look forward to much more of their involvement going forward. I am also pleased to welcome Scott Toyama, Jimento Aikhuele, and Steve Shoemaker to the SERC team. Scott joined in May as a full-time engineering technician in our off-grid solar laboratory. Jimento and Steve are incoming graduate students in the Energy Technology and Policy (ETaP) master’s program. Jimento is this year’s recipient of the Schatz Energy Fellowship, while Steve is the first recipient of the Blue Lake Rancheria Fellowship for Clean Energy Studies. It is great to have them both on board (and thank you again to the Blue Lake Rancheria Tribe for establishing the fellowship).
Last, but certainly not least, I want to thank people who have moved on from SERC to other endeavors. These include Malini Kannan, Janoah Osborne, Ga Rick Lee, Greg Pfotenhauer, and Lukas Kennedy; they each made great contributions over the past few years to SERC’s work related to off-grid solar, clean transportation, and/or biomass energy. I am also grateful to Asif Hassan, Jayati Thakor, Steve Harrison, Emily Klee, and Rich Williams, all of whom worked for us as students, for their efforts on projects related to off-grid energy access and biomass energy. Richa Goyal, who has been with us at SERC as a visiting scholar for the past year and a half, has moved back to India. Fortunately for us, she will continue to work with us as a consultant going forward. Finally, a very special thank you is due to Mark Rocheleau, who retired from SERC in June after 24 years of dedicated service. All of these good people are greatly missed, but we are excited about all the good things that they are doing out in the world.
Goodbye until next time.
Construction on the Blue Lake Rancheria (BLR) microgrid began in May, and great progress has been made this summer. While the lasting image of the project will be the 500kW solar array, there was significant preparatory work done above and below ground to make the microgrid functional. This included placing underground conduits for both power and communication lines to connect every aspect of the microgrid. A primary function of these conduits is to combine the 500kW of solar power from the array and the 500kW of stored solar power from the battery bank at a 12kV utility line that ties BLR to the PG&E electrical grid. As of this publication, the following building blocks of this project have been completed:
- all conduit is in place
- all 1,548 solar modules have been installed
- all three concrete pads have been poured to hold equipment for the PV array, the battery bank (BESS), and the point of common coupling (PCC) with PG&E
- all 10 Tesla batteries, as well as the rest of the BESS equipment, are in position and anchored on the pad
- PCC switchgear is in place and anchored
There is still much to be done before the microgrid can begin to provide a renewable power generation source that is resilient and reliable. Now that the equipment and hardware are in place, the process of installing the software that is integral to making the off-grid islanding aspect of the microgrid possible will begin. The project is scheduled to be completed by early December.
Pramod Singh and I, both graduate student research assistants, represented SERC and the BLR Microgrid project at this summer’s InterSolar/ASES Conference and Expo in San Francisco. We gave a brief presentation outlining the design, goals, and progress made so far on the BLR microgrid, and we attended other presentations and panels dedicated to the solar energy sector. It was encouraging to learn that many conference attendees see microgrids as playing a critical role in the future of solar energy. SERC’s experience with the BLR microgrid will prove to be a fruitful venture as microgrids become more popular and affordable.