The Net-Zero Neighborhood: Advanced Energy Storage and Highly Efficient Photovoltaics Take Transportation Off the Gasoline Grid and Residential Off the Electric Grid
|The NZN concept relies on high energy density storage systems incorporated into the local grid, as well as efficient photovoltaic generation. NZN can integrate with the centralized grid. Source: Gil Weigand. Click to enlarge.|
In a special presentation yesterday at the “Beyond Lithium Ion: Computational Perspectives” conference held at Argonne National Laboratory, Dr. Gil Weigand of Oak Ridge National Laboratory outlined his vision of a critical solution to the energy, climate and ensuing national security threats facing the US: the Net-Zero Neighborhood (NZN).
The Net-Zero Neighborhood is based on local generation using renewables; distributed energy storage in proportion to the population; electric transportation as an integral part of energy storage; energy becoming a consumer commodity that is bought and sold in a local marketplace; and a new jobs base in the form of local energy service providers.
|NZN Needs the Exa Era|
|Actually delivering commercially viable 500-mile batteries will require exascale computing—i.e., ultra-high performance computing with computing speed on the scale of 1 x 1018 operations per second, Weigand says.|
|Ab initio materials, design, performance, and manufacturing can initially be handled with petascale (1 x 1015 op/s) computation, Weigand suggests.|
|But safety analysis, cycling/aging analysis and integrated validation will push those computational requirements into the exa era.|
|“If we are going to create some of the batteries, you better be ready to crank out some cycles.”|
The plan requires significant scientific advances; key technology drivers for the NZN are highly energy dense, mass-market, interchangeable energy storage products (e.g., batteries); the creation of grid-enabled consumer-side energy generation appliances; and a robust set of standards and protocols.
Weigand is looking for a “500-mile battery” such as a Li-O2 (Lithium air) thin film nano-technology system and for 50% efficient photovoltaic cells. (Weigand also noted that “I’m not selecting a technology—when I say battery, fuel cell is fine with me.”)
Weigand, a former assistant energy secretary and Time Warner technology executive, is currently the director of strategic programs and planning with the Computing and Computational Sciences directorate of ORNL. Weigand served in several management positions with the Department of Energy (DOE) during the late 1990s and received the Secretary of Energy Gold Medal in 1996.
Among the DOE titles he held were deputy assistant secretary for research, development, and simulation with the agency’s Defense Programs, now National Nuclear Security Agency; deputy assistant secretary for strategic computing and simulation; and Defense Programs senior technical information officer.
He also served as a media and technology executive at Time Warner, both in corporate positions and at the company’s America Online (AOL) division. Weigand’s positions with the company included vice president of the Corporate Technology Group as well as chief technology officer international and senior vice president for Web services at AOL. The core of his NZN approach is turning energy into a consumer product.
The rationale. Noting that the status quo in US energy consumption “is no longer viable”, Weigand went on to explain how the conventional wisdom on tackling the energy and greenhouse gas emissions issues (as exemplified by the stabilization wedges of Pacala and Socolow or variants thereof) is insufficient to the task.
Plans based on conventional wisdom rely on current technology or a modest extrapolation of current technology, and can be implemented immediately, such as in plug-in hybrid cars, the now moribund Pickens Plan, or solar thermal plants, according to Weigand.
There are real-world realities that prevent or slow progress on those implementation objectives, however. On top of that, there is little or no communication between the wedges, he noted.
|Delivering more than 29 TW of clean energy to meet demand in 2050 is a significant challenge. Click to enlarge.|
“Meet Mr. Reality.” The current thinking on climate stabilization is based on a world-wide goal of an 80% reduction from 1990 levels of GHG emissions by 2050.
Global annual demand for energy in 2005 was about 16 TW, Weigand noted. By 2050, the annual demand is expected to double to about 32 TW. But with an 80% reduction target in GHG, that means that in 2050 the allowable annual level of energy with associated greenhouse gas emissions is about 2.7 TW.
To bridge that gap between the 2.7 TW of fossil-based energy and the 32 TW demand, Weigand said, would require the daily construction—starting today—of one million square feet of solar panels; about 200 square miles of wind turbines, and one 1 GW nuclear power plant.
There are 14,600 days-ish until 2050. At just 1 GW per day, that’s only 14 TW. This is not a small engineering feat. And there will be resource contention...Energy objectives, meet the reality of environmental concerns.
|The Net-Zero Neighborhood. Click to enlarge.|
Net-Zero Neighborhoods. The NZN approach relies on the multiplier effect of consumerism. Energy storage becomes an integral part of the local grid infrastructure, for both mobile and stationary systems. NZN shifts the emphasis of energy storage from centralized to distributed at the points of use.
It creates point-to-point mass-transit transportation; electric vehicles will ride on common/shared battery infrastructure.
You generate energy locally using renewables. You electrify transportation, and unify energy storage and transportation—they are one and the same. You commoditize energy. The consumer buys and sells energy per their ability and needs in a localized open marketplace.
...the whole concept rides and lives on energy storage...every energy type becomes baseload regardless of temporal or geographical behavior. If you have local storage, transients are irrelevant.
Weigand envisions a vehicle he calls the “iCar”—a mobile energy (distributed) storage unit that can be used for transportation. When plugged into the grid, energy can be withdrawn as required by the system per consumer controls and driving statistics. The iCar would be transformational, he has suggested; it is based on marketplace driven requirements rather than an evolutionary car.