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A low-cost solution to strained electric grid

By Kevin Braley

Orion Energy Systems’ Senior Analyst Joel Sandersen on Wednesday will speak about a simple but impactful concept at TechConnect World 2010 Conferences and Expo, a multi-disciplinary and multi-sector conference addressing advancements in traditional technologies, emerging technologies and clean business practices.

Joel will be joined by speakers from companies like Honda, Sanyo, Lockheed Martin, Samsung, Panasonic and P&G, among others. TechConnect draws more than 5,000 business and technical professionals.

Joel’s presentation will address permanent distributed load reduction, or what Orion coined PDLR. PDLR has a wealth of benefits to end-users and the strained electric grid.

PDLR deploys energy-efficient technology at the point of use and thereby permanently reduces the need to generate, transmit and distribute electricity — a process in which 65 percent of energy is lost.

PDLR is smart grid technology in the truest sense because the load reductions are distributed throughout the system, they are permanent, and they are economical.

And the technology to achieve PDLR is available today in the form of energy-efficient commercial and industrial lighting, controls and direct renewable day-lighting systems. When integrated, these technologies can deliver capacity to the grid, particularly during peak hours, and permanently reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

PDLR has been proven in more than 5,600 facilities in North America, including for corporate giants like Coca-Cola Enterprises, Apple, Sysco Foods, OfficeMax and more. PDLR has delivered more than 527,000 kilowatts to the electric grid, displacing 11 billion kilowatt-hours.

The reduction of energy generation has prevented 7.3 million tons of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere, which is the air-scrubbing equivalent of a 2 million-acre forest, or like removing 1.7 million cars from the road.

But the most important aspect is the potential energy reductions of PDLR when the technology spreads across the system. The Energy Information Administration estimates that as of 2003, there were 455,000 commercial or industrial buildings in the U.S. that still utilize traditional, inefficient lighting systems. With an average of 500 lights per facility, there are more than 227 million traditional inefficient lighting fixtures hanging in commercial or industrial facilities.

If each of these facilities replace their traditional lighting systems with high-intensity energy efficient lighting systems — the move would displace more than 55,000 megawatts of power — the equivalent of 111 power plants. And, the payback period in a large majority of the projects is less than two years. The economics make sense.

Even more powerful is that when high-intensity, energy-efficient lighting systems are integrated with the latest in wireless controls and solar day-lighting technology, the capacity delivered could be as much as 81,000 megawatts, or more than 160 power plants. That’s the air-scrubbing equivalent of 111 million acres of trees, removing 97.8 million cars from the road or saving more than 50 billion gallons of gasoline annually, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

To read the abstract to Joel’s paper, click here.

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