Monthly Archives: March 2018

Energy can power more than just your WIFI; it can power your future.

“In order to focus our attention on energy education for the young — at all grade levels [in an effort] to help our children understand our domestic and international energy situation now and in the future.” -Proclamation 4738

With those words, then President, Jimmy Carter established National Energy Education Day in 1980. To be honest, one day a year seems hardly enough to focus on all the promise that energy education holds, after all, there is a vastness to it. Energy gave rise to advances in industry, technology, and science and those industries, in turn, have spawned new and exciting ways to take energy beyond powering a simple lightbulb. Energy is ever-evolving. Just think for a second on how it impacts your own life and where you would be without it. Energy demand is ever-evolving as well, and we have made great strides to harness the elements like solar, wind, and water to power us, but the energy industry itself needs powering. It needs brilliant young minds to look for new alternative sources, advance technology, take up the challenge of sustainability, and help forge new policies that provide positive impacts on energy demands and climate change.

There are few industries as broad in scope as energy.  It interconnects with and is dependent on, so many fields of study that no matter your passion, there are a plethora of diverse opportunities to find your niche. For example, bachelor programs that focus on the Humanities, Communication, Economics, Political Science, and the Environment can be used to gain a deeper understanding of energy conservation, predict future trends in sustainability, and provide the foundation to guide organizational and global policy in an environmentally friendly direction. Geography, Social Sustainability, Ecology, Geology, and Marine Biology studies are all relevant to sustainability, conservation, and energy demand impacts.

Cities and municipalities are rolling out energy-driven initiatives with vast scope. They are taking advantage of government prizes and grants to attract the best talent in technology, science, and engineering to tackle projects like smart grid initiatives, energy storage solutions, and mobilize electric vehicle fleets. Governments and corporations employ data scientists and statisticians to analyze demographic and economic trends to better understand global energy demands and make informed strategies to address future demand growth.

Wind turbine technicians install, maintain and repair wind turbines. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics employment of wind turbine service technicians is projected to grow much faster than average as wind electricity generation is expected to grow rapidly over the coming decade. Alternatively, employment of solar photovoltaic installers is projected to grow due to the continued expansion and adoption of solar panel installations. These jobs, in turn, have spawned even more creative roles such as wind turbine drone inspectors with even more interesting job titles expected as technology and demand evolve. There are also a whole host of behind-the-scenes jobs that keep our energy infrastructure operational and moving forward.

Energy is at the forefront of everything we do; it is a universal commodity with a global scale. That vastness of scope means that no matter what field of study drives you, you can more than likely find an opportunity in the energy sector to make your own. Energy powers more than just our lives and our tech, and the energy innovations of tomorrow need the up-and-coming minds of today to continue forging vast, new paths and discovering vast, new methods.  Now, when asked that most dreaded of questions when you’re in high school and college, “What do you want to do when you graduate?” Just think of all the vast possibilities!

solar voltaic panel installer, chief technology officer, energy efficiency researcher, smart grid solutions architect, wind technician, smart grid director, electrical engineer, smart grid engineer, systems engineer, geologist, climatologist, project manager, cyber security manager, statistician, engagement manager, systems analyst, test engineer, renewable systems engineer, socio-economist, distribution systems engineer, anthropologist, ecologist, systems manager, critical infrastructure consultant, scientific researcher, smart grid systems interoperability validation manager, hydro-electric technician, grid security director, software engineer, manager infrastructure development, software infrastructure subsystem leader, lead software engineer, software quality assurance leader, programmer, global policy consultant, software systems engineer, advanced metering engineer, marketing, sales, director business development, strategic commercial manager, sustainability consultant, wire technician, economist, materials scientist, production engineer…

We, at Opinion Dynamics, are always on the lookout for energy-minded people! Please feel free to check out our latest job openings here on our site!



Do Distributed Energy Resources Call for Integrated Evaluation? The Value of Understanding Each Tool in the Energy Resources Tool Box

By: Chelsea Petrenko, Ph.D.

The effort to integrate distributed energy resources (DERs) into a seamless instrument began nearly a decade ago. While disparate demand-side management tools existed in the early 2000’s, more recently, utilities have leveraged them as a package to address energy and carbon emission reductions. Distributed energy resources include energy efficiency (EE), demand response (DR), distributed generation (DG), energy storage, and electric vehicle charging. Any one of these technologies constitutes an entire field of innovation and adaptation. As such, evaluating the efficacy of DER technologies, both individually and as part of an integrated package, presents challenges and opportunities.

Well-established energy resources like EE have protocols for measuring the impact and cost-effectiveness of programs. For instance, years of program evaluation and methods refinement have resulted in specific algorithms and approaches to measuring program attribution (i.e., the fraction of energy savings directly attributable to an EE program). These approaches have led to critical findings in the past. For example, Opinion Dynamics has pioneered the use of multilevel modeling to identify positive, neutral, and negative savers in programs with thousands of participants, resulting in optimization and refinement of program delivery. Over time, discoveries such as these have strengthened EE technologies, resource allocation, and EE program performance.

Nascent technologies such as storage or electric vehicles do not have a rich history of measurement and verification, which leaves a broad range of energy professionals asking how to measure the impacts of these programs, and further, if it is worthwhile to do so. If the driving force behind DER is to reduce energy use and carbon emissions overall, perhaps time and money need not be spent tracing the origin of each kWh saved – a task that becomes incrementally harder with each DER component added to the mix. On the other hand, in a time of rapid growth and innovation, we see benefits to determining which technologies and programs are driving energy savings, and by doing so, developing a stronger and more informed foundation for the deployment of DERs. To forego evaluating individual DER components would be akin to treating a medical condition with five medications without ever knowing which one works—the result would be costly medical bills and compounding side effects.

To this end, we are working to develop evaluation methods in stride with our clients’ program implementation. For example, Opinion Dynamics recently contributed to the research design for PSEG Long Island’s Super Saver program, which will deploy an impressive array of DER technologies to reduce load in a capacity constrained area of Long Island. The program is one way that PSEG Long Island is advancing the New York Reforming the Energy Vision (REV) strategy. The Super Saver program will offer a mix of EE, DR and storage strategies including advanced metering, smart thermostats, energy audits, and educational materials to about 10,000 customers; all of which combined aim to allow the utility to meet rising demand without investing in costly grid upgrades. Opinion Dynamics and PSEG Long Island worked together to create a plan to quantify the demand impacts of each piece of the multi-pronged program. By participating in the research planning process before the program rolled out, we tailored evaluation strategies to meet specific program needs, and importantly, helped PSEG Long Island determine what data collection efforts would be critical to measuring program success in the future. The resulting body of work will illustrate the contribution of each DER component and bolster the implementation of a first-of-kind program for a major U.S. utility.

In New York, the speedy adoption of DER has generated questions regarding the effective and equitable distribution of new energy resources. We are working on the necessary but difficult task of developing approaches and quantitative methods to measure the incremental effects of DER technologies. In the long run this effort will result in integrated programs that deploy the most effective technologies in the communities that need them most.