When Hurricane Sandy finished doing her dirty work, most New Yorkers saw only devastation. A team of designers and engineers at the energy- and water-management company Bright Power saw opportunity.
Responding to the city’s Resiliency Innovations for a Stronger Economy (RISE: NYC) competition, the group developed the Resilient Power Hub, which can power building systems during a blackout and cut energy costs year-round. The innovative system deploys a troika of technologies to generate electricity and heat: a combined heat and power (CHP, or cogen) generator; solar panels; and batteries to store electricity, which will enable buildings to shave electricity bills by avoiding Con Edison’s higher rates during times of peak demand. The invention was one of 11 winners out of more than 200 submissions in the RISE: NYC competition.
“We’d been working on ideas to provide resiliency and cost savings,” says Jamin Bennett, director of onsite generation at Bright Power, who also served as project manager for the installation of the first Resilient Power Hub at a 126-unit building in the Bronx. “Our initial idea was to use solar panels and cogen, two well-known technologies. But we needed to integrate them – which is how we came to the idea of battery storage. The system is applicable to any building that has access to sunlight and natural gas.”
Adds Betsy Harbison, Bright Power’s director of marketing: “Many co-ops and condos have installed cogeneration or solar, but combining those two with battery storage makes them that much more powerful.”
The Bright Power team designed the system in a “modular” fashion so that it can be tailored to a building’s size, budget, and energy needs.
“Looking at the landscape of New York City right now,” Bennett says, “I think these technologies are going to become more and more relevant – and a standard part of most new buildings.”