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Checking In with Energy Central’s Experts: Dave Bryant, Expert in the Transmission Professionals Community - [an Energy Central Power Perspectives™ Expert Interview]

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Energy Analyst Chester Energy and Policy

Official Energy Central Community Manager of Generation and Energy Management Networks. Matt is an energy analyst in Orlando FL (by way of Washington DC) working as an independent energy...

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  • May 6, 2021 12:15 pm GMT
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Late in 2019, we welcomed Dave Bryant as a new expert in the Transmission Professionals Group at Energy Central. Dave is the Director of Technology at CTC Global and he is passionate and well-versed in all things related to grid technology and quickly, affordably, and efficiently delivering power across the wires connecting the grid.

This space is a fast-moving one, though, and given it’s been quite some time since we connected directly with Dave to chat about the state of technology on the grid and what he’s doing to improve the industry I thought it was high time for a check-in chat with him.

Dave couldn’t have been more gracious in agreeing to chat with me, and so I have the privilege of sharing this interview I did with him once again. Read on to see how things have changed and what keeps this member of the Energy Central Network of Experts so motivated and engaged.

Matt Chester: Dave, our first expert interview with you came back in December 2019, which serves as a great getting to know you interview that I’ll link here rather than rehash for our audience. But In the about year and a half, safe to say that a lot happened. Can you give our readers an update on what you’ve been up to during that time, how you saw your role in the industry evolve (if at all), and any important updates you’d want to add to anyone getting to know you for the first time?

Dave Bryant: Thanks Matt. It’s certainly been a crazy year with so many people impacted in so many hard ways. My heart reaches out to everyone who has lost a family member, been unable to visit their family and friends or been otherwise impacted. But I believe the healing has begun. In spite of all of the challenges, CTC Global has been powering through it. Our business was considered ‘essential’ so while many of our staff worked from home, our production teams, lab techs and logistics people kept at it and we were able to help complete nearly 100 transmission projects, worldwide. I started with CTC Global in 2003 when the ACCC Conductor was just an idea. We worked hard to develop it, test and commercialize it, and help more than 250 utilities deploy it to more than 1,000 projects in 60 countries. It’s been an adventure for sure and I believe the future is looking very bright for everyone in the power delivery sector.

 

MC: You’ve recently been sharing to the Energy Central community about the importance of designing efficiency into new grid products. Obviously most people agree that efficiency is a priority, but can you talk to why the scale of the impact of transmission efficiency can be transformative?

DB: Several decades ago, power producers very clearly understood the importance of efficiency on the generation side. Investing in more efficient generators saved money and increased profits. As it became more difficult to build new generation, a movement began to improve the efficiency of demand side appliances. More recently, efforts to improve the efficiency of wind turbines and solar panels made them more competitive against conventional generation – even without incentives. While efficiency and life cycle costs have been considered for years when considering transformers, the efficiency of transmission lines has been widely ignored. This is because the cost of line losses has been simply passed along to consumers, in most instances.

However, as our efforts to combat climate change has moved ‘front and center’ in the overall scheme of things, looking at improving the efficiency of the grid offers a major opportunity. Researchers have made it very clear that nearly one billion metric tons of CO2 can be attributed to grid inefficiencies. The ACCC Conductor has been proven to reduce line losses by ~30% compared to legacy powerline conductors such as ACSR and ACSS. Improving efficiency can not only reduce fuel costs, associated emissions and water used by thermal power plants, it can also free-up generation capacity otherwise wasted. The return on investment is tremendous, which is why the ‘new’ technology has become so popular.

MC: From what you’ve seen out of the Biden Administration since taking office, do you think they’re focusing on efficiency of transmission infrastructure to the degree they should—or are they leaving some important opportunity unexplored?

DB: In my mind, the jury is still out. Fortunately, our friends at WIRES and other trade associations are working with the DOE, FERC, NARUC, NASEO and State policy makers to help them understand that ‘efficiency’ needs to be considered in the transmission design phase and that investment in efficient technologies that benefit society and the environment need to be supported by clear policies.

 

MC: When it comes to the next five years, do you think progress towards grid efficiency is going to be most driven by new technologies, a policy focus, or market mechanisms?

DB: “E,” all of the above, and more. A very interesting trend has begun recently wherein multilateral banks (and many Utilities) have begun writing efficiency requirements into their standards and tenders. These organizations are not only interested in supporting economic development (and their customers), they are also highly motivated to leverage their resources to achieve sustainability goals. The ACCC Conductor is a perfect fit and we are seeing billions of dollars allocated to upgrading existing lines and building new lines that offer higher capacity and improved efficiency.

 

MC: What should leaders at utilities be doing to make these topics an area of increased focus? Is it a matter of greater investment, feeding into R&D, or something else?

DB: I believe that the sustainability and management teams need to connect with the transmission group to share notes. In the U.S., I believe that presenting the least expensive upfront capital cost on proposed transmission projects has helped many projects earn pole position. I think the Company’s overall sustainability goals should be factored in and life cycle costs considered. I’m not suggesting that the ACCC Conductor is necessarily more expensive, that’s not usually the case. I am suggesting that, just like the policy makers and PUC’s, the Utilities should consider and present all of the benefits of a proposed transmission investment, that include social, environmental, reliability, resiliency, sustainability and other benefits, and earn ROI’s that reflect these.

 

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Thanks to Dave Bryant for joining me for this interview and for providing a wealth of insights an expertise to the Energy Central Community. You can trust that Dave continues to be available for you to reach out and connect, ask questions, and more as an Energy Central member.

The other expert interviews that we’ve completed in this series can be read here, and if you are interested in becoming an expert then you can reach out to me or you can apply here.

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