California Zero Net Energy Program: Part 2

By Timothy Chen | Published: September 23, 2016 – 4:38 pm

The California Zero Net Energy program discussed in the previous post will have a significant impact on new construction. The average residential electric power usage in the State of California is 6,741 kWh per year (U.S. Energy Information Administration) or 18.5 kWh per day on average. Presumably a residential home will generate electric power using a PV (solar) system. The average PV system is rated at 5 kWh (approximately 400 SFT of solar panels). This would appear to be sufficient to offset any usage but depending upon PV module efficiency, which will vary with time of day and weather, the electric power produced will be significantly less than rated. The difference will have to be made up through energy efficiency and the shifting of usage from the time of day with peak loads (e.g. evening) to time of day with peak generation (e.g. mid-day). I would think that from an electric utility perspective, electricity available at 7pm to 10pm during peak usage will be worth a lot more than electricity available at 12:00 noon. Time of day rates may become the norm.

California Zero Net Energy Program

By Timothy Chen | Published: September 16, 2016 – 1:56 pm

I recently read an article about the California Zero Net Energy program whose stated goal is that all new residential construction in California will be zero net energy by 2020. All new commercial construction will be zero net energy by 2030. Zero Net Energy (ZNE) is defined to be that the building will produce as much energy as the building uses over a one year period. This goal will be achieved through a high level of energy efficiency and through the addition of clean, on-site renewable power generation, presumably solar PV. Wow … The implications are dramatic for both the home owner and the electric utilities that service the building. As we discussed in previous posts, the electric utility distribution networks have been designed over the last 100 years or so to be a one-way street. The regulated electric utilities built huge electric power generating plants that transmitted the electric power through a network of power transmission lines at ever decreasing voltage levels until the power arrives at the home at typically 120VAC or 240VAC. Balancing the power requirements for the service territory is the support base provided by the large electric power generation capability augmented with “standby” generators for peak loads. A fairly predictable power distribution model. What happens when a significant share of the end electric power user base becomes at times a power generator? Is the sun shinning in Los Angeles but Santa Barbara is overcast? (FYI Santa Barbara is northwest of LA along the Pacific coast). The source of the electric power generation becomes highly volatile and variable. More information can be found on the ZNE web site:

New competitor??

By Timothy Chen | Published: November 30, 2005 – 8:43 pm

I recently read an article in The Economist – Israel‘s technology industry – Punching above its weight (November 12th-18th, 2005). The article begins by making the statement that “… Israel is second only to Canada in the number of companies listed on the NASDAQ, and (that) the country attracts twice the number of venture-capital investments as the whole of Europe, …”. Several reasons are given for the development of their technology industries, the most intriguing is the army. According to the article, universal conscription has allowed the army to select those individuals that “… have a glimmer of potential, catalyses(ing) their transformation into engineers or scientists”. After their service in the army, these individuals arrive at university with “… practical experience and a problem-solving mentality.” “Israel has 135 engineers per 10,000 employees, compared to 70 in America, 65 in Japan, and 28 in Britain.” “Tech giants such as IBM, Motorola and Cisco have research centers in Israel, which is also where Intel developed its Centrino chip.”

New competitor!? Apparently not … apparently they have been there for some time.