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Thursday, November 8, 2018

HARC Researchers Prominent at 2018 Texas Energy Summit


Workshops and panel presentations highlight energy sustainability and resiliency

HARC researchers headlined several events at the Texas Energy Summit held in September. The three-day conference in Houston was hosted by the Energy Systems Laboratory at Texas A&M University Systems, Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station. This premier educational conference drew over 300 attendees from various sectors of the energy industry, including utilities, academia, manufacturing, and purveyors of clean energy technologies. The event also features a business expo with opportunities to engage in lively conversation about cleaner air, a better built environment, sustainability and a new energy economy.

HARC President and CEO, Lisa Gonzalez, kicked off the conference with remarks in the Keynote Plenary session “Houston: City in Recovery, City on the Rise” on Tuesday, September 25. The panel explored Houston’s post-Harvey recovery and quest to maintain its position as the energy capital of the world. The panel was moderated by Elizabeth Love (Senior Program Officer, Houston Endowment) and featured Julienne Sugarek (Vice President, Centerpoint Energy), Brett Perlman (President and CEO, Center For Houston's Future) and Niel Golightly (Chief Of Staff To The Recovery Office, City Of Houston).

The panel focused on continued recovery from the effects of Hurricane Harvey and next steps for the region. Lisa explained HARC research findings on environmental impacts of Harvey including storm-related emissions, spills and tank failures, and the effects on local communities.

“It was wonderful to participate in an energy conference at which so many professionals were engaged in conversations about sustainability, a resilient built environment, clean air and water, and climate adaption. I left with the feeling that Texas is poised to be a leader in the new energy economy.”

– Lisa Gonzalez, HARC President and CEO

Dr. Mustapha Beydoun, HARC’s Vice President and COO, presented on Tuesday, September 25 in a session entitled “Port Electrification.” The program examined a variety of topics associated with airport electrification with a focus on ground support equipment (GSE), batter-electric buses, gate electrification, and even electric and hybrid‐electric propulsion systems for airplanes.

In a pre-conference workshop on Monday, September 24, organized by the U.S. Department of Energy Southcentral Combined Heat and Power Technical Assistance Partnerships (CHP TAP) program at HARC, Dr. Gavin Dillingham led discussions on “Improving Texas Economic Resilience with Combined Heat and Power.” Dr. Dillingham was joined by Dr. Tarla Toomer who serves as the Technology Manager for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Manufacturing Office in Washington D.C. Dr. Toomer provided an overview of DOE’s CHP work and deployment to various markets.

On the following day, Gavin moderated a panel discussion on “Resiliency from Microgrids, On-Site Generation and Storage.” CHP TAPs provide no-cost technical support for facilities considering implementation of CHP to provide reliable power and thermal services for energy efficiency and resilience.

“GSE present a tremendous opportunity for electrification with significant emissions and financial benefits. An airport baggage truck has a service life of about 15 years, yet the breakeven payback period for an electric vs gasoline powered variant is about 5 years. After five years, you are not only saving a couple thousand dollars a year per vehicle, you are also literally preventing tons of CO2 and NOx emissions from making their way into our air each year.”

– Dr. Mustapha Beydoun, HARC Vice President and COO

The workshop and panel discussion highlighted mechanisms to increase site resilience with CHP and/or microgrids. Analysis and quantification of resilience and other benefits as part of the business case for CHP was an important focus. Although these aspects have traditionally been difficult to fully understand and characterize, heightened regional awareness of natural disaster vulnerabilities has spurred interest in CHP to sustain critical operations. CHP TAPs can assist with early screening to identify the benefits for various types of commercial, residential, and industrial facilities, as well as institutional campuses. Ever-improving CHP technologies have made smaller-scale systems more attractive in non-traditional market sectors, such as hotels and multi-family housing.

“People are becoming more aware of climate risks… conferences such as the 2018 Texas Energy summit are providing the education necessary to inform the public and private sectors, to take action to improve site resilience with CHP and other distributed energy resources.”

– Dr. Gavin Dillingham, HARC Program Director, Clean Energy Policy

In addition, attendees to the CHP workshop were also treated to a behind-the-scenes tour of the recently-installed CHP system at the NASA Johnson Space Center Campus home of spaceflight Mission Control. The CHP system reduces JSC energy intensity and energy costs, while greatly increasing security and reliability.

HARC Research Scientist, Marina Badoain-Kriticos moderated two panels during the conference. The first highlighted HARC’s research on Combined Heat and Power (CHP) at the pre-conference workshop on September 24th. The interactive session panel featured Bryan Bagley (Project Manager, Affiliated Engineers) and Melissa McKinley (Project Manager, NASA) and was titled, “Case Studies on Resilience through CHP.” Moving from research to implementation, the panel focused on the practical application of CHP at two Houston-area sites. The second panel on September 25 was entitled “Financing Distributed Energy / EE Projects.” The panel featured Charlene Heydinger (President, Texas PACE Authority), Eddy Trevino (Program Manager, State Energy Conservation Office) and Brent Turner (Account Manager, DLL Financial Solutions). The panel discussed a variety of financing mechanisms and models to help overcome capital barriers to solar, energy storage and energy efficiency projects.

“I always enjoy the variety of content and speakers at this conference. The roster this year was particularly engaging and drew a nice cross section of public, private and academic attendees.”

– Marina Badoain-Kriticos, HARC Research Scientist

Carlos Gamarra also presented during the conference. The robust program encouraged attendees to share information on state and local energy efficiency, renewable energy, and air quality policies. The conference is hosted annually by the Energy Systems Laboratory at Texas A&M University Systems, Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station.

For more information on the event, please visit: