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  1. Abstract

    Residential solar installations are becoming increasingly popular among homeowners. However, renters and homeowners living in shared buildings cannot go solar as they do not own the shared spaces. Community-owned solar arrays and energy storage have emerged as a solution, which enables ownership even when they do not own the property or roof. However, such community-owned systems do not allow individuals to control their share for optimizing a home’s electricity bill. To overcome this limitation, inspired by the concept of virtualization in operating systems, we propose virtual community-owned solar and storage—a logical abstraction to allow individuals to independently control theirmore »share of the system. We argue that such individual control can benefit all owners and reduce their reliance on grid power. We present mechanisms and algorithms to provide a virtual solar and battery abstraction to users and understand their cost benefits. In doing so, our comparison with a traditional community-owned system shows that our AutoShare approach can achieve the same global savings of 43% while providing independent control of the virtual system. Further, we show that independent energy sharing through virtualization provides an additional 8% increase in savings to individual owners.

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  2. While ride-sharing has emerged as a popular form of transportation in urban areas due to its on-demand convenience, it has become a major contributor to carbon emissions, with recent studies suggesting it is 47% more carbon-intensive than personal car trips. In this paper, we examine the feasibility, costs, and carbon benefits of using electric bike-sharing—a low carbon form of ride-sharing—as a potential substitute for shorter ride-sharing trips, with the overall goal of greening the ride-sharing ecosystem. Using public datasets from New York City, our analysis shows that nearly half of the taxi and rideshare trips in New York are shortsmore »trips of less than 3.5km, and that biking is actually faster than using a car for ultra-short trips of 2km or less. We analyze the cost and carbon benefits of different levels of ride substitution under various scenarios. We find that the additional bikes required to satisfy increased demand from ride substitution increases sub-linearly and results in 6.6% carbon emission reduction for 10% taxi ride substitution. Moreover, this reduction can be achieved through a hybrid mix that requires only a quarter of the bikes to be electric bikes, which reduces system costs. We also find that expanding bike-share systems to new areas that lack bike-share coverage requires additional investments due to the need for new bike stations and bike capacity to satisfy demand but also provides substantial carbon emission reductions. Finally, frequent station repositioning can reduce the number of bikes needed in the system by up to a third for a minimal increase in carbon emissions of 2% from the trucks required to perform repositioning, providing an interesting tradeoff between capital costs and carbon emissions.« less
  3. While ride-sharing has emerged as a popular form of transportation in urban areas due to its on-demand convenience, it has become a major contributor to carbon emissions, with recent studies suggesting it is 47% more carbon-intensive than personal car trips. In this paper, we examine the feasibility, costs, and carbon benefits of using electric bike-sharing---a low carbon form of ride-sharing---as a potential substitute for shorter ride-sharing trips, with the overall goal of greening the ride-sharing ecosystem. Using public datasets from New York City, our analysis shows that nearly half of the taxi and rideshare trips in New York are shortsmore »trips of less than 3.5km, and that biking is actually faster than using a car for ultra-short trips of 2km or less. We analyze the cost and carbon benefits of different levels of ride substitution under various scenarios. We find that the additional bikes required to satisfy increased demand from ride substitution increases sub-linearly and results in 6.6% carbon emission reduction for 10% taxi ride substitution. Moreover, this reduction can be achieved through a hybrid mix that requires only a quarter of the bikes to be electric bikes, which reduces system costs. We also find that expanding bike-share systems to new areas that lack bike-share coverage requires additional investments due to the need for new bike stations and bike capacity to satisfy demand but also provides substantial carbon emission reductions. Finally, frequent station repositioning can reduce the number of bikes needed in the system by up to a third for a minimal increase in carbon emissions of 2% from the trucks required to perform repositioning, providing an interesting tradeoff between capital costs and carbon emissions.« less
  4. Buildings consume over 40% of the total energy in modern societies, and improving their energy efficiency can significantly reduce our energy footprint. In this article, we present WattScale, a data-driven approach to identify the least energy-efficient buildings from a large population of buildings in a city or a region. Unlike previous methods such as least-squares that use point estimates, WattScale uses Bayesian inference to capture the stochasticity in the daily energy usage by estimating the distribution of parameters that affect a building. Further, it compares them with similar homes in a given population. WattScale also incorporates a fault detection algorithmmore »to identify the underlying causes of energy inefficiency. We validate our approach using ground truth data from different geographical locations, which showcases its applicability in various settings. WattScale has two execution modes—(i) individual and (ii) region-based, which we highlight using two case studies. For the individual execution mode, we present results from a city containing >10,000 buildings and show that more than half of the buildings are inefficient in one way or another indicating a significant potential from energy improvement measures. Additionally, we provide probable cause of inefficiency and find that 41%, 23.73%, and 0.51% homes have poor building envelope, heating, and cooling system faults, respectively. For the region-based execution mode, we show that WattScale can be extended to millions of homes in the U.S. due to the recent availability of representative energy datasets.« less
  5. Reducing our reliance on carbon-intensive energy sources is vital for reducing the carbon footprint of the electric grid. Although the grid is seeing increasing deployments of clean, renewable sources of energy, a significant portion of the grid demand is still met using traditional carbon-intensive energy sources. In this paper, we study the problem of using energy storage deployed in the grid to reduce the grid's carbon emissions. While energy storage has previously been used for grid optimizations such as peak shaving and smoothing intermittent sources, our insight is to use distributed storage to enable utilities to reduce their reliance onmore »their less efficient and most carbon-intensive power plants and thereby reduce their overall emission footprint. We formulate the problem of emission-aware scheduling of distributed energy storage as an optimization problem, and use a robust optimization approach that is well-suited for handling the uncertainty in load predictions, especially in the presence of intermittent renewables such as solar and wind. We evaluate our approach using a state of the art neural network load forecasting technique and real load traces from a distribution grid with 1,341 homes. Our results show a reduction of >0.5 million kg in annual carbon emissions --- equivalent to a drop of 23.3% in our electric grid emissions.« less
  6. Abstract

    Neurotransmitter is released synchronously and asynchronously following an action potential. Our recent study indicates that the release sites of these two phases are segregated within an active zone, with asynchronous release sites enriched near the center in mouse hippocampal synapses. Here we demonstrate that synchronous and asynchronous release sites are aligned with AMPA receptor and NMDA receptor clusters, respectively. Computational simulations indicate that this spatial and temporal arrangement of release can lead to maximal membrane depolarization through AMPA receptors, alleviating the pore-blocking magnesium leading to greater activation of NMDA receptors. Together, these results suggest that release sites are likelymore »organized to activate NMDA receptors efficiently.

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