Big Data Analytics to Unleash Energy Innovation

Scientists and researchers continue to push the envelope to find new ways to harness, store, and distribute sources of energy for retail, commercial, and industrial consumers.

A prime example of this involves Duke Energy. The company’s Notrees Battery Storage Project in Texas centers around the installation of large-scale batteries capable of storing electricity produced by the company’s 153-MW Notrees wind farm, located in Ector and Winkler counties.

By storing energy generated by the wind farm, the pioneering battery technology can be used to regulate power system frequency and provide ancillary services for grid management.

Performance data from the battery storage system will be collected and used to assess the potential for broader adoption of energy storage solutions throughout the industry.

Technical and economic data will also be analyzed for the U.S. Department of Energy by Sandia National Laboratory.

As companies such as Duke Energy continue their searches for new sources and applications for energy, big data and big data analytics can play important roles in helping scientists, researchers, engineers, and other stakeholders discover and evaluate new opportunities.

One of the biggest hotbeds of energy research continues to take place at the U.S. Department of Energy National Laboratories. Researchers at Lawrence Livermore National Ignition Facility are studying the use of lasers to achieve fusion energy “ignition,” a fusion reaction that produces more energy than is required to start a reaction.

Lawrence Livermore isn’t alone in evaluating the potential use of lasers to deliver quantum leaps in energy utilization.

Researchers at Sandia National Laboratory’s California campus are using much less powerful lasers to drive breakthroughs in vehicle engine efficiency.

Quite simply, scientists at Sandia National Labs are shooting a laser into a working internal combustion engine. Researchers there are working with US vehicle manufacturers and oil companies to analyze how fuel combusts in an engine and where particulates form.

Then they are using that data to model new technologies that are intended to increase performance but decrease pollutants.

Smart companies are also beginning to leverage not just renewable but recurring sources of energy.

For instance, Ocean Renewable Power Company in Portland, Maine installed an underwater turbine last summer under a $21 million project that’s touted as the first commercial tidal energy project delivering power to the US energy grid. With tides flowing in and out every day, twice a day, just as they’ve done for millions of years, it’s the kind of energy source that energy innovators can count on.

The power company will analyze the data it collects and model a control system that could more efficiently harvest energy from highly turbulent water.