2019 BAE Q3: Boston's Approach to IOT, Technology and Innovation

- Johanna Cimilluca, Fellow

Boston has an aggressive vision to be Carbon Free by 2050. In an effort to meet that vision, the city needs strong leaders, innovators willing to disrupt the industry, and significant advances in IoT and Technology.

Renewables like large scale photovoltaic systems, and battery and energy storage play an important role in the energy industry. As we try to solve for the critical challenges facing us today, battery storage must be part of the solution for Boston. Energy storage companies use an array of technologies that include mechanical, chemical, or thermal processes to absorb energy, store it and then distribute it.  The technologies include batteries, capacitors, flywheels, compressed air energy storage, hydrogen storage, and heating and cooling energy storage. Massachusetts Clean Energy Center works to promote the benefits of energy storage, and provides opportunities for the State of Massachusetts and the City of Boston. Launched by the Baker Administration in 2015, the ESI allocated state funding for an energy storage study, as well as other demonstration projects. The study known as State of Charge was published by MassCEC and the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER) in 2016. The report includes the challenges of energy storage to ensure a robust market and ease integration into the grid, which requires the development of storage safety codes, standards, and regulations. 

Affordable and fast broadband should benefit all who live in the city — imagine if everyone in the City of Boston could control the environment within their home by utilizing advanced technologies that connect them immediately to their home’s electricity, HVAC, and water controls. The potential for broad impact for a city and its residents is immense. High price of cable, the poor infrastructure of Boston’s broadband, and the lack of competition in the market is why there is disparity and uncertainty with internet services.  For years Boston residents had one option for high-speed internet services but with new regulations from the Federal Communication Commission in 2015, they increased the benchmark of minimum broadband speeds to 25 megabits download and 3 megabits upload. So, Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) Internet services, which many Boston residents use and which typically offer 3 megabits per second download speeds, no longer met the FCC broadband speed benchmark.  

Design, commissioning, and implementation of Distributed Energy Systems, with a focus on community microgrids, transactive energy, smart buildings and smart cities links directly to the availability of fast broadband. The importance of this is that it ties directly to improving electricity supply, reliability, and grid resilience for the future. 

Energy efficiency evaluation, demand response, and the ability to reduce power consumption to increase grid stability requires strong partnerships and innovation. The City of Boston's recent award to Enel X, through its US demand response service company EnerNOC,Inc. their virtual power plant in New England will increase by 50% year-over-year, reaching 157 MW for the 2021/2022 delivery period for large commercial and industrial customers, from the previously secured 101 MW for the 2020/2021 period. The innovation  and flexibility that this demand response program provides, delivers a valuable resource to help ensure a steady, reliable source of power for all consumers in the region.   

Boston needs disruptive innovations and advances in technology to meet their goals. The AEG Q3 2019 Stakeholder Series highlights four leaders and their approach to impacting GHG and the carbon footprint of Boston through leadership in design and a lively and challenging conversation on Boston’s approach to IoT, technology, and innovation. This quarter’s Discussion Leaders include:  

  • Fouad Dagher, Director of Customer Innovation, Nationalgrid Partners

  • Anne Schwieger. Department of Innovation & Technology, City of Boston 

  • Andrea Ruotolo, PhD, Senior Manager - Smart & Distributed Energy, Advisian (Worley Group)

  • Joana Abreu Ph.D., Program Manager, Demand Response, Eversource Energy

Please join us on 9/17, 9/18 in Boston as we explore Boston’s unique ability to innovate, and the opportunities and challenges it faces in using IoT, Technology and Innovation to meet its decarbonization goals.