April 2012, Vol. 67 No. 4


Emerging Technology Program launched

The Gas Technology Institute (GTI) has announced the launch of a North American industry collaborative to drive the deployment of energy-efficient emerging technologies and solutions.

The Emerging Technology Program (ETP) is focused on accelerating the commercialization and adoption of the latest end use and energy efficiency technologies. The program is designed to help companies identify and evaluate the most promising products and integrated solutions and assess their suitability for future use in the marketplace. The collaborative will leverage the collective intelligence, expertise, and funding of members from the natural gas industry to help deploy new technologies.

In the past, many technology solutions did not have the market impact that stakeholders felt that they could. “We saw a lot of good R&D happening, but less of a concerted effort to take that technology into the marketplace,” Kerr says. “With the collaborative approach, we’ll be able to approach national manufacturers and big-box retailers with a larger voice representing utilities across the U.S. and Canada.”

Southern California Gas (SoCalGas), a natural gas utility serving customers in Central and Southern California that has its own statewide emerging technology program in place, was one of the early supporters of the new North American collaborative. “Early on, we identified a need for a broad effort to foster large demonstrations to develop program data, to drive costs down, and to demonstrate to manufacturers and consumers that a particular technology works,” says Abdullah Ahmed, emerging technologies program manager at SoCalGas. “We look forward to working closely with GTI and other natural gas utilities in moving promising emerging technologies into the marketplace.”

ETP projects will assess energy use, costs and benefits, marketing opportunities and barriers, and energy savings potential for various products and processes. Plans are to conduct field demonstrations to validate the performance, efficiency, and cost-effectiveness of new technologies and program strategies. “We need larger demonstrations to collect and understand market data, while developing market infrastructure to support eventual technology deployments,” Kerr says. “A key part of developing the market will be building consumer awareness about a given technology within a region and building contractor capacity so that we can establish consumer confidence,” Kerr adds.

“This initiative fills an important need for energy efficiency programs at today’s natural gas utilities,” says Bob Fegan, principal energy analyst at DTE Energy, who has been a driving force in launching the collaborative. “As energy efficiency programs mature, emerging technologies will become an even more important component in achieving the energy savings goals of our industry. This program is a major step in the right direction.”
Project opportunities for 2012 include combination space/water heater systems for the residential and small commercial sectors, high-efficiency gas heating rooftop packages for the commercial sector, and a boiler retrofit technology that promotes significant energy and water savings for the commercial and industrial sectors.

“We have a strong foundational base of support from the industry. It’s a great opportunity to join together and accelerate market acceptance of emerging technology. The larger the group, the more powerful presence we have, so we aspire to add more members and continue to build on the program,” notes Kerr.

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