UTD Benefits > Residential and Light Commercial End Users

Why We Do It Addressing Recognized Needs of Residential and Light Commercial End Users

Residential and light commercial customers utilize many different types of buildings and facilities, and can have widely varying load patterns and peak thermal demands, plus differing interests as owners, renters/lessors or developers. Individual equipment components typically provide <400-500 million Btus/hr for space and water heating, <11 tons (<132,000 Btu/hr) for cooling, and <50kW of on-site power generation. UTD is helping to address their recognized needs.

Expand Affordable, Resilient, Energy-Efficient Product/Technology Options

“Energy affordability remains a national crisis, with low-income households, communities of color, renters, and older adults experiencing disproportionately higher energy burdens than the average household nationally, regionally, and in metro areas.”

How High Are Household Energy Burdens?, American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy, Sept. 2020, p. vi

“ASHRAE, CIBSE, and other stakeholders should support research to develop enhanced resiliency in the following areas:

  • Design and operation of HVAC&R and other building systems to extend beyond increasing energy efficiency and occupant health and comfort to address life-cycle costs, resistance to extreme events, and continued operation and/or reduced recovery time in the event of catastrophic events and in the face of climate change.”
Position Document on Resiliency in the Built Environment, American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers and Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers, 2019

Overcome Hurdles to New Product/Technology Options through Collaboration

“While regulatory policies are most critical, innovation alliances also serve an important, mutually beneficial purpose. Innovation alliances can be public, private or involve combinations of types of stakeholders.  …

Much more private investment and public-private collaboration in RD&D is required, particularly around TRL 6–8. Collaborative measures can increase success as well as cost efficiency through resource and risk sharing, as well as tapping in to complementary expertise.”

Accelerating Sustainable Energy Innovation, World Economic Forum, May 2018, p. 20

“The other major challenge entrepreneurs identify is the need to perform pilot tests in the field. This is a critical step in moving bench-scale prototypes to a reliable, commercial technology. In field tests, the entrepreneur sees how the technology is handled by field personnel, how it integrates into the existing system, and how it performs in real-world situations. The specific testing needs of clean energy technologies vary widely. … These variations in testing needs create a challenge to find the right testing facility or partner for field trials.”

Advancing the Landscape of Clean Energy Innovation, Breakthrough Energy, Feb. 2019, p. 55 

“Successfully shepherding new technologies from concept to commercialization requires support at all stages, but the demonstration stage is particularly underfunded (C2ES, 2019; Nemet et al., 2018; Hart, 2018). The IEA defines technology demonstration as the “operation of a prototype … at or near commercial scale with the purpose of providing technical, economic and environmental information” (IEA 2011). The fundamental role of demonstration is to instill confidence in technology developers, users, investors, and the public that a technology will perform as intended. However, the first several large demonstrations of an emerging technology generally entail a level of technical and financial risk beyond what private industry can support, leading to a “commercialization valley of death” (Nemet et al.,2018).”

Accelerating Decarbonization of the U.S. Energy System, National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, The National Academies Press, 2021, p. 169

“Climate-tech start-ups usually face a deeper valley of death than IT start-ups.  To demonstrate technological and commercial viability and successfully cross the valley, climate-tech start-ups may need to simultaneously scale up research to a working technology prototype, ensure the supply chains needed for product development are in place, and establish a pathway to profit generation, including a clear demand for the product from consumers or utilities for both hardware and software. …

Collaboration with external partners provides climate-tech start-ups with resources and intangible assets that help them navigate through the valley of death and get the investment they need. Collaborations can reduce some of the perceived risks inherent to clean energy innovation, improve the prospects of climate-tech start-up survival, and facilitate clean energy technology commercialization.”

Collaboration Between Start-Ups and Federal Agencies: A Surprising Solution for Energy Innovation, Information Technology & Innovation Foundation, Aug. 2020, p. 3

“The energy sector faces a series of unique challenges compared with other industries that make it especially difficult for even the most promising projects to attract private-sector investment that could help them surpass these critical stages:

  • Capital-Intensive…
  • Long Payback Periods…
  • Valued as a Commodity…
  • Regulatory Uncertainty and Fragmentation…

For the reasons listed above, the private sector generally underinvests in energy R&D. The risks associated with energy R&D are frequently too high for the private sector to make the investments needed on its own to match the scale of the opportunity of developing transformational energy technologies.”

The Power of Innovation, American Energy Innovation Council, Nov. 2018, p. 10

“Technology Challenges” include:

“2) A significant technology challenge is that most of our equipment rating methods are (at best) obsolete, and ASHRAE must think about a collaborative role with the federal government to get funding to remedy this. The rating methods and the federal standards derived from them discourage innovation that would make a difference. Standards aren’t really useful to figure out the energy budget of a house with a combination system or an integrated heat pump. Water heater standards systematically favor tank-less over tank type, because of a test artifact. We are not able to meaningfully compare energy use of a ground source heat pump (COP, EER) with a split system (HSPF, SEER), much less a mini-split.

3) A major challenge to development and adoption of improved materials or appliances is that there is no clear business model for product vendors to invest in their development or foster their implementation. The residential market is typically low-margin and high-volume, so a markedly different product represents a risk in terms of retooling costs for manufacturers, possible erosion of existing “conventional” product sales and having to compete for space in retail stores.”

ASHRAE Research Strategic Plan 2010-2018, American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers, p. 9

UTD Shaping the Energy Future