Chris Campbell, electrical engineer

Energy and Power Technologies

For several years now I’ve been very interested in the technologies surrounding distributed generation (DG) of electric power and the electrification of the transportation sector. About a decade ago I started to immerse myself in electric vehicle (EV) technology and EV charging infrastructure, where I was a very early adopter of the technology. Since 2010 I’ve done a lot of public outreach locally for EVs and it’s how most people in Atlanta probably know me. This interest in EVs led me to DG.

In time that resulted in membership with the IEEE Power Engineering Society (PES) and Association of Energy Engineers (AEE). I’ve been absorbing what I can via their conferences, journals and local monthly meetings. (I’ve already been a regular IEEE member since the mid 1990’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 public 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:

  • DCFC standards (Chademo, SAE Combo / CCS, Tesla Supercharging)
  • DC voltage bus migration from 500V to 1000V to 1500V
  • DCFC power migration from 50 kW to 150 kW to 350 kW
  • EVSE technology (pilot signals, state machines, plug types)
  • EVSE market since 2010
  • Wh/mile performance trends in EV market
  • V2G integration (e.g. peak shaving)
  • EV aggregation (e.g. the JuiceBox / PGE pilot )

Battery technology:

  • battery architecture (cell vs module vs pack)
  • SOC and DOD percentages, thresholds and impacts
  • life cycle impact of low SOC including the time factor
  • 18650 cells, prismatic cells, second life
  • chemistries: NCA, NMC, LiFePO4
  • internal structure basics: cathode, anode, electrolyte, laminates, separators, doping
  • charge and discharge curves
  • kW vs kWh (!), battery C rate, thermal management systems (TMS)
  • trends in cost ($/kWh) and energy density (Wh/kg)

Solar power / photovoltaics:

  • string inverters vs microinverters
  • I-V curves and maximum power point trackers (MPPT)
  • monocrystalline vs polycrystalline tradeoffs
  • STC, NOCT, temperature re-rating and design impact
  • cosine losses, tracker types, row shading
  • mounting systems and structural loading
  • NREL PVWatts calc, weather databases, Helioscope software usage
  • balance of system (BOS) costs and trends

Energy storage systems:

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

Policy and grid jargon:

  • duck curve
  • load shifting, dynamic pricing
  • net metering and avoided cost
  • islanding, microgrids and nanogrids
  • frequency droop and droop control
  • IEEE 1547 and CA Rule 21
  • dispatchable loads and 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
  • note: not seeking a policy role, just aware of these issues

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.