NEWS IN THE WORLD OF POWER AND INTEGRATED BUILDING SYSTEMS
World’s Most Powerful Electrical Testing
System up and Running in Florida
McDonald’s Hopes to Bring Net-Zero Energy to Fast Food
> AS THE ELECTRICAL INDUSTRY FULLY
embraces the digital age, the needs of utilities
and other large equipment users have been
transformed. Their demands require a different form of testing to ensure new equipment can function in a highly sophisticated
and rapidly changing environment. At one
university, a research center has been built
with this in mind.
In early February, Florida State University announced a testing facility at its Center for Advanced
Power Systems (CAPS). It features a 24,000-volt direct current
power test system, with a capacity of 5-megawatts (MW). It is
composed of four individual, 6-kilovolt, 1.25-MW converters for
medium-voltage direct current (MVDC) system investigations.
The converters can be arranged in any combination, in series or
parallel connection, for a test bed with maximum flexibility.
CAPS was founded 14 years ago as a collaborative research
center to develop smart-energy systems for the nation’s power
and defense needs. Much of the research focuses on bringing
renewable energy onto the power grid.
Two of the biggest CAPS collaborators are the U.S. Navy
and Virginia Tech University. The Navy’s goal is to develop an
all-electric ship, while Virginia Tech researchers are evaluating
the performance of an electric-impedance measurement unit
(IMU), which establishes criteria for stable operations of an
The new test system is the latest installment of the power
hardware in the loop (PHIL) test facility model, pioneered
by CAPS and replicated at other research institutions. PHIL
provides simulation to help researchers observe and assess how
equipment functions in real world conditions, such as electrical
storms and surges.
According to CAPS, its facility the most powerful of its kind at
any university research center in the world.
> ITS GOLDEN ARCHES have become
one of the most recognizable and ubiquitous logos in the world, and, every day,
millions of customers enter a McDonald’s
restaurant for a quick meal. Now, the corporation is exploring what it would take
to turn one of its stores into a net-zero
A recent study by the Rocky Mountain
Institute, Fisher Nickel Inc. and New
ity of such an undertaking. Locations in Chicago; Orlando, Fla.;
and Washington, D.C., were the focus of the study. Each store
was individually assessed, and various scenarios were formed
that could get these locations to net-zero energy.
For this study, emphasis was placed on kitchen and heating,
ventilating and air conditioning equipment, but every energy-consuming aspect of the store was explored.
The plan to get to net-zero is purely conceptual at this
point—further research is necessary before detailed plans and
costs can be drawn up—but for McDonald’s Corp., this will be a
“Our Global Energy Leadership Board sees net-zero energy
as an opportunity for McDonald’s as we work to advance the
energy performance of the restaurants and proactively pursue
opportunities for integrating emerging technologies,” said Roy
Buchert, global energy director, McDonald’s. “This net-zero
energy concept could change our approach from incremental
improvements to substantial advances in energy-efficiency and
renewable-energy integration where it makes sense.”
McDonald’s hopes to build a pilot net-zero energy restaurant
that can act as a learning lab to test technologies and methods that
can be used in stores in the future. However, loyal McDonald’s
customers may be curious as to how these changes will affect their
experience at the restaurant. Both the corporation and Rocky
Mountain Institute have claimed this won’t be an issue.
“There’s plentiful opportunity to optimize and reduce energy
use without compromising the consistency and quality of the
end products,” said Stephen Doig, Rocky Mountain Institute.
—MAT T KRAUS