Come Find Flux – CSUN CREST Conference

Last weekend, the Flux Energy team had the pleasure of attending the CREST conference at California State University, Northridge.   It was a day of informative lectures from policy advocates, industry, academics, entrepreneurs and independent consultants.  We learned a lot and were particularly inspired by the following talks.

Dr. Laurent Pilon described UCLA’s upcoming innovative interdisciplinary research program in which collaboration across industry, academic and government institutions will tackle the challenges in Food, Energy and Water Systems.   We are excited to see how this program evolves and keeps pushing Los Angeles to a cleaner, more efficient future.

Dr. Rajat Chakraborti represented large industry players by representing CH2M and describing the innovation and research they are doing in sustainability and water resource management.   Of particular interest for us in Marina del Rey, was the way CH2M is reviewing the impact of rising sea levels on our critical water and waste systems.   Over the next few decades, we will likely see the infrastructure that may be inundated with rising sea levels.

Tom White gave a very inspiring presentation describing the creative and transformative work being done by the Los Angeles Clean Tech Incubator portfolio companies.  Check out this company making solar powered airplanes!

Flux Energy Systems had the opportunity to present at the conference.   We reviewed how the design process of a solar plus storage program required creative engineering and market analysis.  It was just another example supporting the conference theme: integrating new technologies into existing infrastructure requires the same interdisciplinary collaboration and creative solutions as politics, research and education.  During this project, the Flux Energy Team listened very closely to all of our stakeholders goals and then researched the technical applicability of market-ready solutions.  Please contact us if you would like to learn more.

Thanks to Dr. Abhijit Mukherjee and his team for such an inspiring day!

 

 

 

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Intersolar 2018

The entire Flux Energy Team went to Intersolar this year, and it was a great fair.   As usual, we learned a lot, met some fantastic people and caught up with a lot of our favorite solar industry colleagues.

A particular highlight was the Women in Solar breakfast hosted by WRISE.  Our founder, Alison Brown, was featured in Solar Power World’s summary.

Why Hire a Consulting Project Manager?

Many companies wait to assign project managers until a project is already delayed and trending out of budget. Assigning a Project Manager earlier helps a company avoid these expensive delays.  Even better, a consulting project manager will help a company achieve aggressive business targets without carrying the risks and overhead of a new full-time hire.

Earlier this year, Flux Energy Systems was contracted to manage the design for a portfolio of storage projects that were behind schedule. Over the following six weeks, we recovered the projects’ schedules and eventually finished the projects early, using just 29% of the allocated management budget!

How were we so successful? Initial credit goes to our customer for identifying their resource constraints and hiring us before the projects were too delayed. Once Flux was assigned to the project, we quickly established roles and responsibilities for the whole team.  Then we set aggressive but feasible deadlines and actively communicated status and expectations.  Perhaps most importantly, we have a lot of experience in alternative energy projects, so we can quickly pivot between deliverables and promptly resolve RFIs that would otherwise use up our client’s valuable, yet scarce, engineering bandwidth.

Many companies, especially growing companies riding the solar (and storage) coaster, do not have enough project managers to keep their projects on budget and schedule.   If this sounds familiar, you should consider hiring a consulting project manager!

#nationWise Los Angeles

We had a very successful event in Los Angeles yesterday! Thanks gain to our hosts, Grid Alternatives. Over the course of the evening 18 women participated in a lively conversation about the solar industry. We had even representation across the industry: sales, engineering, project management, installation, electricians. Women just getting interested in the industry, or employees at small companies, massive corporations and non profits!

I was thrilled with the conversation – everyone participated and the tone was upbeat and supportive.  (And this was after opening only 2 of the 8 bottles of wine I purchased!) Some of my personal favorite conversations I overheard:

– One permanent resident describing how she transitioned from student visa to green card to a soon-to-graduate international student.

– An electrician talking through the best process to become a journeyman with a women who is returning to the industry after kids

– Sales Reps comparing the ways they got noticed and promoted within their organizations

And this is just a small snap shot of the collaborative discussion.  There were also offers to review resumes and cover letters, a cross-generational appreciation of the opportunities now available for young women and promises to get together to geek out over everything renewable energy related.

Last year, we had four women participate in #nationWISE Los Angeles. I can’t wait to see what comes next year. With that, I leave you with my favorite quote from the evening: “boobies are great for carrying bags of cement!”

Olympic Energy

 

Between coverage on Simone Manuel, the 10,000 meter world record and the green pool water, have you stopped to consider what type of energy it takes to run and compete in the Olympics.   We will dive into some fun comparisons, but first, let’s review some basic physics.  Power is the rate at which Energy is generated or consumed.  Simone Biles’ vault routine has more power than Amy Cragg’s marathon, but Cragg uses more energy during her race.  Remember, energy takes many forms, chemical, nuclear, gravitational and kinetic to name a few, so we are comparing the energy (calories) consumed by an athlete to the energy generated by various types of power plants (kilowatt-hours.)

 

1 solar panel operating for 1 hour generates the same amount of energy as the potential energy contained in ALL of the 10 M Olympic dives.

After 1 day of operation, 2 solar panels would generate enough energy for an Olympic marathon.

Players on the soccer field would consume the energy generated by an average residential solar installation on a long, sunny day.

The Olympic Torch travels around the world used the energy generated by a 200’ tall Wind Turbine over the course of a day.

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Let’s not forget all the couch athletes!  They use the most energy of all!  During the 2012 London Olympics, viewers consumed 425 million hours of footage on their computers which is the equivalent of one average coal plant running 8 hours per day through the Olympics.

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Television viewers won the energy competition.  Two of our largest nuclear power plants, would need to run full time for the duration of the Olympics to keep those TVs running.

Please note all of these calculations are approximate and based off rough estimations.

Democratic Platform: Energy

Yesterday was the first day of the 2016 Democratic National Convention.  Both Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren highlighted climate change and energy policy as priorities for the Democrats over the next four years.

 “This election is about climate change, the greatest environmental crisis facing our planet, and the need to leave this world in a way that is healthy and habitable for our kids and future generations.” -Bernie Sanders

“We believe that oil companies shouldn’t call the shots in Washington, that science matters, that climate change is real. Hillary will fight to preserve this earth for our children and grandchildren. And we’re with her!” – Elizabeth Warren

The contrast could not be greater to last week’s Republican Convention, where one of the few references to energy policy came from Harold Hamm, the likely Energy Secretary in a Trump administration: “Every time we can’t drill a well in America, terrorism is being funded.”  The differences are even more striking in the two parties’ platforms.   Last week, we reviewed the Republican platform.  This week, we review the Democratic platform.

Overlaps with Republican Platform

There are no overlaps in the Democratic and Republican energy policies with two exceptions: support for coal workers and streamlined permitting for transmission lines.

The fight against climate change must not leave any community out or behind—including the coal communities who kept America’s lights on for generations.   …  We will also oppose threats to the public health of these communities from harmful and dangerous extraction practices, like mountaintop removal mining operations.

The two parties have the same goal: protect the welfare of communities founded in 19th century coal.  However, the strategies are opposites.  The Republicans advocate increasing coal production without addressing the growing environmental, health and economic problems associated with the industry.   In contrast, the Democrats want to push 21st century jobs into these communities using modern technology to help these communities. This is a common theme.  One party accepts risks clearly defined by the past, while the other advocates launching into the unknown of the future.

We will streamline federal permitting to accelerate the construction of new transmission lines to get low-cost renewable energy to market, and incentivize wind, solar, and other renewable energy over the development of new natural gas power plants.

While both parties seek streamlined permitting for federal transmission lines, only the Democrats will plan around integration of renewable energy sources.

Climate Change:

Democrats believe that climate change poses a real and urgent threat to our economy, our national security, and our children’s health and futures, and that Americans deserve the jobs and security that come from becoming the clean energy superpower of the 21st century.

The platform has a resounding chorus that climate change is a threat to America but mitigating actions bring broad solutions for America.  More middle-class jobs, a reduction in foreign conflicts, increased innovation, lower energy bills and more people of color and women in STEM careers are all linked to climate change solutions.

Global Cooperation

As discussed last week, the Republican platform completely rejects global cooperation in environmental and energy policies.   The Democratic is the complete opposite.

We believe the United States must lead in forging a robust global solution to the climate crisis.

… In the first 100 days of the next administration, the President will convene a summit of the world’s best engineers, climate scientists, policy experts, activists, and indigenous communities to chart a course to solve the climate crisis.

… We will support developing countries in their efforts to mitigate carbon pollution and other greenhouse gases, deploy more clean energy, and invest in climate resilience and adaptation.

The democrats want to lead the world in solving the climate crisis with global cooperation and support of developing countries in meeting their climate commitments. They plan on polling experts to make the best plan.

Next steps

The platform lays out specific milestones necessary for achieving these goals:

  • Within 4 years, install half a billion solar panels (~100 GW).
  • Within 10 years, clean energy sources will supply 50% of electricity
  • Within 40 years, America will run on 100% clean energy
  • Expand clean energy R&D
  • Maintain the Clean Power Plan
  • Power the federal government with 100% clean electricity
  • Partner with states, cities and rural communities for clean power

As expected of any political platform, details and specifics are missing, but the first step to making a plan is acknowledging the existence of an issue. This platform does exactly that and proposes solutions that create more jobs and a healthier and safer America.

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