Aperture Center, the 78,000 square foot mixed-use commercial building at Mesa del Sol is now ground zero for the most complex experiment in renewable energy use in the state. The University of New Mexico has office and lab space in the building and is hosting a control room for a consortium of Japanese Companies working under the umbrella of the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO).
NEDO has invested more than $22 million in solar cells, fuel cells, lead-acid batteries, electrical equipment, gas engines, thermal storage and software and engineering design in the project. UNM and NEDO will do parallel research projects on ways to incorporate renewable energy with traditional electrical supplies in a large commercial structure.
Over the next two years, the UNM School of Engineering's Center for Emerging Energy Technologies (CEET) under the direction of Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering Andrea Mammoli will work on several projects.
The Japanese companies involved in the project are trying to answer many of the same questions for themselves. They specifically want to demonstrate how various energy sources such as fuel cells, gas engines, energy and thermal storage can be controlled by a building energy management system that can also respond to demand and supply signals from the existing power grid. They also want to demonstrate that a microgrid can operate independently, supplying power to buildings in a disaster such as the recent earthquake in Japan, and that the system can work even with variations in the supply of electricity from solar cells. The companies involved are Shimizu, Toshiba, Sharp, Meidensha, Fuji Electric, Tokyo Gas, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Furukawa Electric and Furukawa Battery.
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