R&D Quick Hits


Facts, Figures, and Findings from EPRI Research, Reports, and Other Sources

‘Sol-Gel’ Technology Could Offer Lower Cost, More Rugged Solution for Component Monitoring
Soon, it may be possible to spray or paint an on power plant components for tracking their degradation and structural health. An EPRI study reports that the “sol-gel” coating is ready for initial field testing. Traditionally, workers scan plant components periodically with handheld ultrasonic sensors. This approach is costly, and comparing inspection results can be hampered by discrepancies in the sensor’s position or orientation. With sol-gel technology, a chemical slurry is applied and onto a component, forming a film on its surface. An electric ...
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Study: Leading Forecast Providers Have Average Error of 5–6%
The overall accuracy of solar power forecasts is improving, though performance varies among products and can diminish during periods with high variability in solar output, according to an EPRI study. Grid operators use these forecasts for dispatching other system resources more effectively. But forecasting is still an emerging technology. Complex modeling must account for numerous factors, including historical weather, irradiance reaching solar panels, energy production data, solar panel efficiency, and weather forecasts. In collaboration with Southern Company, EPRI conducted a six-month evaluation of 10 commercial forecast providers ...
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Study: Cooling Technology Can Tap Enormous Efficiency Potential of United States’ 2.5 Million Small Data Centers
Variable refrigerant flow (VRF) heat pumps can reduce energy use in small data centers by up to 29%, according to an EPRI study. While companies such as Google, Facebook, and Apple apply significant resources to reduce the massive energy consumption of their warehouse-scale data centers, the 2.5 million small data centers in the United States present enormous untapped efficiency potential. Representing about 1% of total U.S. electricity consumption, these network closets and server rooms are often located in commercial buildings—such ...
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In field tests at the 1-megawatt Strawberry Plains solar power plant, an EPRI-developed robot demonstrated its ability to navigate rough terrain autonomously and collect accurate data on electromagnetic interference. Interference radiating from power electronics in large solar arrays may violate Federal Communications Commission regulations. To assess its strength and source, it’s necessary to gather, store, and analyze large amounts of data. Known as the “Big, Autonomous, Mobile Measurement Platform” (BAMMP), the robot measures 42 inches by 33 inches by 20 inches, with four large wheels and a platform for various sensors (see photo above). Operators control it remotely ...
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Power plants are using alternative water supplies to meet a range of water needs reliably and cost-effectively, according to an EPRI analysis of 17 facilities across the United States. Traditionally, power plants draw water from rivers, lakes, and other freshwater sources for use in cooling systems and other processes. In some areas, however, water scarcity or quality hinders or precludes their use. Here are key findings for the diverse sources covered by EPRI’s scientific literature review and staff interviews at power plants in different regions:
  • Power plants have successfully used alternative water supplies for decades, in numerous ...
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