As part of our study trip to the US, State of Colorado, we visited on the 30th of May 2014 the Spirae company which presented us more in depth the FortZED project.
FortZED project was launched in Fort Collins, CO and aimed at establishing an Zero Energy District. The program regrouped members of the local community, city representatives, academia, industry and the commercial sector.
The FortZED came to life in 2007 when Net Zero Energy District initiative is proposed, and afterwards named FortZED by the UniverCity Connections Sustainable Energy Task Force, an initiative of the Community Foundation of Northern Colorado.
In 2008 the first funding is received from the U.S. Department of Energy, namely a grant for $6.3 million, plus nearly $5 million in matching funds and in kind services. Locally, Fortzed received a New Energy Communities grant from Colorado’s Department of Local Affairs and the Colorado Governor’s Energy Office, of $778,000, plus $2 million in local matching funds.
This funding was offered mainly as part of an US initiative to test the viability of net energy zero zones and smart grid systems. A net zero zone is a zone that on average it does not use energy from the grid. This can be done through self producing units, decoupling from the network in peak times and smart metering. While at Spirae (http://www.spirae.com ) we were informed that the community of Fort Collins already has smart meters, which makes energy monitoring systems easier. Consumers are also incentivized to be efficient via different comparison tools proposed in their bills.
The project regrouped dedicated members that brought in production facilities, either from the industry or academia side, members that donated technology either software or hardware and a simulation laboratory that can simulate the presence of any energy source on the grid.
The first phase of the project reached its purpose proving that a smart metered net zero district is possible now the second and most controversial phase comes on how to make profit from this system. As all Americans consider societal change of system takes place whenever its economical advantage is proven. We guess in Europe we still like fighting for ideals before proving their commercial feasibility.
If you want to know more on the project check this link and video: http://fortzed.com/home
It surely impressed us.
Amandine Bray, Cezara Popovici, Isabelle Reynaud, Charlotte Villez
Ms Energy 2013-2014