Note: Moved specific process discussions to process definition page.
From Greg: More on the community power plant processes idea from today:
In last Tuesday's call, we asked Twan van den Broek, Wout de Jong, and Sander ten Hagen to help write a usage scenario related to utilities processes and sustainability. The three of them sat together and developed the following scenario:
an Energy Consumer applying as Producer (with his rooftop solar panels or personal windmill) with his regular Energy Supplier.
Participants: Consumer, Supplier, Grid Operator.
So Consumer fills in a form, Supplier checks Smart Grid availability at Grid Operator, if OK then new contract. If no Smart Grid, then wait. If not OK, then stop the process.
We then convened a call with the three of them and Tom Raftery to consider the scenario and Tom's subject-matter expertise. In the discussion, Tom suggested the scenario sounded a little like a vision he has been articulating recently, and which he describes below.
We then decided to add to the scenario. Consider a local township or neighborhood decides to aggregate the power generation of its residential households and commercial establishments and ask as a "virtual power plant" or composite power producer. This not only allows the entity to negotiate favorable rates as described below, but could also encourage investment in power or wind by owners, investment in the smartgrid itself, and even allow reselling of micro generated power. It also brings up interesting ideas such as enabling demand response, encouraging residents to lower consumption during peak power demand so as to maximize the amount of available power generated by the township and enhance revenue. Its a bit Utopian, but definitely interesting.
Twan, Wout, and Sander will be contributing a process diagram for bringing a homeowner or business online as a micro generator within this township and the various steps (human and automated) that are required. This is just a base. As you can see, there are a number of interesting additional processes that can be thought of related to this scenario.
What are your thoughts? Do you see lots of additional possibilities?
We'll be discussing this idea on a group call this coming Tuesday, but feel free to share your ideas now here on the wiki!
If you are not part of the call invitation, but would like to join, please email me: firstname.lastname@example.org
Virtual Power Plants
During today's call I (Tom R) brought up the idea of http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virtual_power_planthttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virtual_power_planthttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virtual_power_planthttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virtual_power_planthttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virtual_power_planthttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virtual_power_planthttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virtual_power_plantvirtual power plants. A virtual power plant is basically an energy aggregator. An entity (think at community, subdivision or township level) which buys power from microgenerators (backyard wind turbines, suburban rooftop solar, etc.) by the kilowatt typically, and sells on the aggregated power to the ISO. By selling the aggregated power, the virtual power plant can negotiate better rates for the producers as well as potentially contracting to manage installation, commissioning and maintenance of the microgeneration equipment for the householder.
Hi Andreas. I like the idea. It definitely sounds like it would reach a lot of people. But, where is the process in this? Wouldn't this be more of a Java app rather than a BPM implementation? Thoughts anyone?
AEM: Greg, all, let's bring back together the goals again:
(moved up from the bottom so its visible)
at TechEd a rather quick and simple application to be used by many people, sleek and - well - sustainable is to be developed. How about this:
- Applet for phone/iPhone/handheld combining some of the aspects seen above, answering the following user questions: "My air air condition is currently at 70 degrees. If I turn down my air condition by one degree for the next 4 hours [alt: 2 degrees for 3 hours etc.], how much CO2 can I save?" and "how much is that in money?". The applet should be able to figure out the current time, the current cost of power (from the power company), the current power generating mix (from the power company, to determine CO2), the current local outside temperature (from the weather channel or similar provider). The power company should have an algorithm how much less power is needed for an air condition turned down that way. The applet could provide for an estimator, how much CO2/money could be spared per day/month/year, if this behavior "2 degrees less" was sustained.
AEM: To Greg, and all: I guess it should be possible to bring this applet and Tom R's idea together and then make it a process. Like: In the applet (see above) the user then enters a pledge to turn down the airco by x degrees. From all the pledges coming in all the time, the power company then re-calculates aggregate demand (per neighborhood). Bringing in Tom's virtual power plant idea: The power company calculates aggregate (regional) supply, too. With reduced (neighborhood) demand and increased (neighborhood) supply, the delta to be provided by the power company is calculated. I'll put in a BPM diagram of this process next week, OK?
Sustainability gets better over time, the more neighborhoods choose to generate power from green sources to supply the very power this neighborhood consumes - and in pretty much the same timeframe. This also reduces the losses of transporting power over longer distances. Thus, power companies will more and more become brokers, and less actual suppliers of power.
From Greg: Have we done enough brainstorming?
To make a project here for BPM methodology out of this subject matter, we have to find one of the following two cases related to process:
1) There has to be a gap or lack of process
2) There has to be an existing process, but no measurement or optimization of it
In the subject areas described below, are we seeing half a dozen opportunities that fit the above questions? If so, we have enough subject matter and now need to narrow our focus.
If not, then we need to continue flying over more subject matter at 10,000 feet.
Team, what do you think? Enter your opinions here or tweet them to me.
From : Owen Pettiford - Are we getting too far away from the idea of Process Slam
I am not seeing a process that gives us something we could do in the time available. I think we need to focus on what the process slam is trying to show....IMHO it should be about sharing techniques for helping organisation re-build processes based on key guiding principles, one of those guiding principles might be Sustainability. Perhaps we need to look at a more simple example like we did in the last (and current) BigMachines project - even a simple problem can create lots of questions and we have limited time. I am happy to offer the BigMachines Merger as a candidate but it does not come with customer sponsorship (which is difficult as you have to ask people to wash their stuff in public)
Suggestion from TomRaftery:
Utilities have no process in place to roll out a (customer-centric) Demand Response program - could this be our goal?
Proposed topic areas:
- Related to sustainability and utilities
Managing an outage incident - The outage incident management process is complex and critical to daily operations of utilities. Specialized outage management systems can analyse outage incident reports to determine the asset that must be repaired to restore power service. Extension: Possibly making this more generic to include solutions that would service Public Sector. Linking this business challenge/case to sustainability topic
Here are a few open questions:
- What is the existing situation at the utility? Is there already a process in place?
- The sustainability side of things is still pretty weak.
Here are a few related links:
- Time slicing the outage power systems - Just an abstract but looks exactly like what we need.
- Power Outage in Zambia - Interesting in that power outages are a global problem
- KUA Weathers Storm Outage Management-And Weathers it Well - Good description of a Operations Plan (EOP) that follows the format of the National Incident Management System (NIMS). This is probably a god point to start the Analysis Phase of process design.
Idea posed by Tom Raftery: Demand Management / Measurement of Renewable Resources
One of the ideas that was brought up in our first call was demand managment / measurement, in terms of demand coming from renewable / preferred sources that tend to be unreliable versus less preferred but more reliable sources.
Brainstorming from GregChase:
California has an independent grid operator that posts its forecast daily demand in real time on its web page.
Imagine that this demand measure included % of electricity coming from renewable sources (hydro, wind, solar) versus carbon-rich (natural gas, coal, oil). Here is their link, check out the graphs on the front page:
Maybe we build a real time dashboard showing % of renewable energy generated, and add in tons of CO2 generated. Probably we would need an efficiency measurement showing how tons of CO2 generated are much less from renewable sources.
Greg spoke with Andreas Muno (AEM) of SAP Public Sector IBU Solution Management who added an interesting idea: a feedback loop from residents to respond in real time to alerts from the grid operator if increased demand leads to increase % of non green electric demand resources. Andreas has a bit of BPM process he could tweak for this. California already has a similar concept. When demand threatens to exceed supply, a power emergency is put out by the California ISO. Electricity-intensive manufacturers who have previous agreed to cease operations during power emergencies will wind down their usage - this is in exchange for lower rates. Maybe residents and businesses could have similar benefit that kicks in if they agree in real time to reduce consumption. Would need smart meter installed for verification?
AEM adds: Along these lines, how about involving entire neighborhoods into the energy conservation efforts? People in any specific neighborhood would subscribe to an alert service of the power company. When the daily peak is near, the power company sends out the alert, asking people to postpone consumption to a later time that day. People respond by pledging to do just that (this could be a one-button mobile app for all cell phones). A variant of that same idea: Power company ask for pledges of entire neighborhoods to only use some of their appliances during the low-consumption times, where the power stations run at lowest costs. The benefit for the power company (or the households) in comparison with an individual approach is, you don't need as many of the modern power meters, if you go by neighborhood. The risk is, your energy efficiency gain is not as high, since the individual is not rewarded as much, and there will be free riders. The individual gains in the lower energy bill will be lower. This risk can be mitigated though: If there is no actual economic reward for people, they might still do it if organized in neighborhood teams that compete with each other... These green competitions seem to fare pretty well. Competition between green teams adds a playful element to the stern sustainability topic.
Mockup of above ideas:
Demand Response background
I brought up the idea of demand response on the call and probably didn't explain it fully - it goes well beyond the demand management scenario outlined above.
Like demand management, demand response can be an attempt to shed load at times of peak demand however its mechanisms are more typically automated, and realtime.
So in a demand response scenario, the utility companies publish their electricity pricing in realtime (remember that electricity pricing is a function of supply and demand and remember also that, somewhat counter-intuitively, cheap electricity has a higher % of renewables in the mix) and the devices in your home/business programatically consume that information and alter behaviour accordingly (device on/off, thermostat up/down, etc.).
In times of excess supply, you want to stimulate uptake of electricity so you drop the price and in times of excess demand you up the price to lower the demand.
An example of this would be, you put your dishes in your dish washer at 7pm, say - you don't care when they are washed as long as they are clean and dry at 7am the following morning. If your dish washer could consume realtime electricity info it could decide when best to turn on (ie by 6am or at 6c/kWh - whichever comes first). Similarly for refrigeration (compressor on/off, thermostat up/down), aircon, heating (central heating or immersion) pool pumps and so on. Obviously there are some loads you are not going to move - you are not going to get up at 3am to put on the evening meal just 'cos electricity is cheap, however, there are significant loads (outlined above) which are movable and when done en masse have a huge effect on the grid.
Plug-in hybrids and battery electric vehicles using vehicle-to-grid technologies in this scenario have the power to act as a large, utility-scale, distributed energy storage mechanism for the country.
The big advantage of this is by having realtime response, you overcome the instability added to the system by increasing the % of variable supply sources allowing for the addition of extra renewables to the system without further destabilising the grid.
Think of this as the TIVOising of your electricity consumption.
To roll this out we need:
- Smart grids
- Smart Meters
- Appliances capable of consuming realtime pricing information and adjusting their behaviour in response
- Home Area Networks (software portals to program, control and report on the consumption of the devices in homes)
- Customer focused utilities <- this is probably the hardest one to find (!)
Utilities are typically command and control oriented and their current attitude to smart grids and demand response is that this is a nice way they will be able to automatically turn down your aircon when it suits them. This attitude will see many demand response projects fail.
Not sure after that where the challenge for the Process Design Slam will come from - possibly a process for rolling out a customer-centric demand response program - or is that waaaaay too ambitious?
RealtimeCarbon.org is a website which displays in realtime the carbon footprint of electricity generation nationally in the UK - see screenshot below:
Also, Red Electrica de España (the Spanish grid operator) produces some spectacular realtime info on generation mix and carbon footprint see screenshot below: