Sunday, October 5, 2014

The Future of Power Transmission


The future of power transmission is here. More and more people, institutions, government agencies, and others are looking to microgrids to satisfy their energy needs. Microgrids are small-scale power production and delivery systems co-located with the loads they serve. They’re rapidly gaining acceptance as the nation’s power grid becomes progressively more dated, expensive, and susceptible to a variety of threats (such as earthquakes, tsunamis, storms, and manmade catastrophes like sabotage and cyber attacks). 

Microgrids generate, distribute, and control the flow of energy to consumers. They encompass multiple types of energy generation resources, storage systems, and efficiency programs, allowing for optimal utilization of renewable energy resources and facilitating advanced energy management, demand response, and load reduction solutions. Developers and owners of microgrids can sell excess power generated by their systems to utility companies. They can also design their microgrids to operate as power “islands,” offering power resilience when the utility grid is not available. 

The relatively small scale of microgrids facilitates more localized sources of power generation. Their introduction lowers demands on existing transmission infrastructures. Smart microgrids are an ideal way to integrate renewable resources on the community level and allow for customer participation in the electricity enterprise. They offer improved efficiency, predictable energy costs, and reliability. They’re good for the environment because they widely use renewable sources of energy, such a solar and wind power. They exemplify the ethos of thinking globally and acting locally. 

Eugene-based Green Energy Corp is one of an increasing number of businesses around the world providing microgrid power production and distribution solutions. The company is certain to be a major player in the rapidly growing field of regenerative and resilient technologies. 

Green Energy Corp’s Senior Vice President for Business Development, David Yuen Tam, sat down with me last week and introduced me to his company and the vast market it is set to capitalize upon.

David described how Green Energy Corp has established an “enterprise platform” to package complete solutions for sustainable management of power, water, and agriculture. In addition to building and operating microgrids for its customers, the company offers toolsets that help third party developers create premier microgrid solutions. Its flagship product, GreenBus®, enables microgrids to operate at their peak efficiency levels and connect to or disconnect from a larger grid. Green Energy Corp is targeting developers and the country’s growing number of eco-districts for its services. 

Green Energy Corp. holds the only system-wide microgrid patent in the U.S. It has designed thirty microgrids, built four, and owns three of them. Its products are based on open source software, cloud computing, and extreme scalability—allowing Green Energy Corp to rapidly deploy microgrids and complete eco-districts. The company currently has a $3 billion pipeline of vetted projects in various states of readiness. 

It’s noteworthy that Green Energy Corp relocated its headquarters earlier this year from Raleigh, NC, to here in Eugene. David explained it made the move in part to more effectively exploit the Asian and Pacific Rim markets. North America may currently be the leader when it comes to microgrid projects under development or in the proposal process, but the potential of locales in countries like India and China is huge.

David’s background makes him eminently suited to his role as Green Energy Corp’s head of business development. He has specialized in foreign and direct investment management, joint venture and foreign strategic partnerships, technology licensing, sustainable business development, real estate consulting, and investing, with many years of experience helping U.S. and international firms grow and expand. As the founder of Tam Global Consultants, he has helped global companies by providing relevant and up-to-date information pertaining to the various aspects of business development and market information. 

David also happens to be one of the partners of Glenwood H&CC Development, the partnership of local business people who are proposing to build a 95,000 squarefoot riverfront hotel and a 46,000 square foot conference center behind the Ramsey Waite equipment dealership on Franklin Boulevard. He envisions the project as a possible showcase for Green Energy Corp’s microgrid solutions; if it moves forward the development may ultimately encompass a state-of-the-art eco-district. David and his development partners certainly have the necessary vision, patience, and appreciation for Glenwood’s prime riverfront to also implement a freestanding microgrid power system. 

I like the fact that Eugene is now home to a company that is a leader in one of the hottest markets today. The widespread advent of microgrids bodes well for Green Energy Corp and, by association, Eugene. Microgrids will be a big part of the future of power transmission, both domestically and abroad, and everyone in Eugene stands to gain if Green Energy Corp realizes its considerable promise.

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