A few weeks ago I had the privilege of visiting AEP’s Dolan Technology Center and meeting with several of their test engineers. Among a myriad of testing they perform, one area of focus is on testing new advanced energy technologies. As I spend most of my time dealing with passionate entrepreneurs who extol the promise of their exciting new technologies, it was interesting to get a utility perspective. The utilities are in the business of delivering power reliably 24 hours a day. Thus, they don’t want a new power generation technology implemented until they are sure of its reliability.
The test engineers at the Dolan facility take new products through their paces to make sure that they can operate consistently in a series of different environments. They can expose equipment to extremely high voltages, cold temperatures with accompanying snow/rain, and hot environments. In addition, they have a series of products on long term test. For instance, I saw a solar collector from one of EWI’s member companies, GreenField Solar. As results come back from testing it is passed back to the manufacturer so they can make improvements. The message was loud and clear that new technology needs to be bullet proof before it is added to the grid, but AEP is doing their part to test and evaluate new technologies that are important to our energy future.
Posted by Mark Norfolk