Chris Campbell, electrical engineer

Energy and Power Technologies

For several years now I’ve been very interested in the technologies surrounding “smart grid” and distributed generation (DG) of electric power. About a decade ago I started to immerse myself in electric vehicle (EV) technology and EV charging infrastructure; since 2010 I’ve done a lot of public outreach in this field and it’s how most people in Atlanta probably know me. This interest led me to DG development and to the IEEE Power Engineering Society (PES), absorbing what I can via the monthly meetings and journals (I’ve been a regular IEEE member since the mid 90’s.) Lately I’ve been closely following the battery energy storage market.

Here’s a rundown of the energy and power technologies that I’m familiar with:

Electric vehicles and charging technology:

I am extremely familiar with EV technology and the EV market. Since 2010 I have been deeply involved with outreach efforts to educate the public on EV options, centered around the ElectrifyAtlanta.com website that I run as a reference. I’ve been watching the market develop and grow since 2008, monitoring EV technologies and standards as they move from lab to shipped product. Specific technologies and jargon:

  • battery architecture (cell vs pack)
  • thermal management systems (TMS)
  • DCFC standards (Chademo, SAE Combo / CCS, Tesla Supercharging)
  • Wh/mile performance trends in EV market
  • EVSE technology and market (and why an “EVSE” is not a “charger”)
  • V2G integration (e.g. peak shaving)
  • EV aggregation (e.g. the JuiceBox / PGE pilot )

Battery basics:

  • SOC percentage, depth of discharge
  • life cycle impact of low SOC including the time factor
  • 18650 cells, prismatic cells, second life
  • LiFePO4, manganese, cobalt
  • battery structure basics: cathode, electrolyte, anode, laminates, separators, doping
  • cell vs module vs pack
  • charge and discharge curves
  • kW vs kWh (!), battery C rate, thermal management systems (TMS)
  • $/kWh trend, energy density (Wh/kg)

Solar power / photovoltaics:

  • string inverters, microinverters
  • maximum power point trackers (MPPT)
  • NREL PVWatts calc
  • monocrystalline vs polycrystalline tradeoffs
  • balance of system (BOS) costs and trends
  • cosine losses, heat effects (efficiency and aging)
  • net metering
  • avoided cost

Energy storage systems:

  • pumped hydro, phase change materials, compressed air, etc.
  • supercapacitors
  • spinning and non-spinning reserve
  • price arbitrage

Grid jargon:

  • duck curve
  • load shifting, dynamic pricing
  • substations
  • microgrid, islanding
  • frequency droop
  • dispatchable load
  • peaker plants
  • HVDC, back-to-back conversion
  • AC/DC conversion, roundtrip efficiency
  • TOU rate plans, demand pricing, peak shaving
  • Three letter acronyms (TLAs): PSC, IRP, ASI, PPA, RPS

I’m not an expert in the above topics, rather I’m familiar with the terms and technologies. My point in listing the jargon above is to illustrate that while I’m only now looking to shift professionally into the energy sector, I’ve already been paying close attention to it for a long time.