A new dog is in town, "The Energy Internet"

FREEDM Systems Center

As budgeting and deficit woes abound both here in the Triangle as well as in Washington, we all often think about the varying roles of government, industry, and academia in domestic innovation and competitiveness.  The Research Triangle Region is well known internationally as one of those regions that has played it's cards well in striking this balance between the three historically throughout the computer and communication age of the sixties through today. 

You see, a new dog is in town, "The Energy Internet". And this one promises to deliver the same fundamental changes to the way we live as the other one and possibly more. Changes that are widespread as the implications can bring more universal adoption of electric cars, solar energy, and even change the way we turn lights on in our homes and adjust the air conditioning. 

Somewhat quietly, in the new age of energy, the Research Triangle Region is quickly establishing itself in a similar manner with the development of innovations through the university system and partnering with several of the world's energy leaders such as ABBSiemensDuke EnergyEatonGE and others. We already have a leading role in the development of the "Energy Internet" through many of these companies, as well as through innovative developments through the University System such as at the FREEDM Systems Center and the Advanced Transportation Energy Center here at NC State University.

Solid State TransformerMuch like the Internet, none of the fancy devices on the ends of the wires are of much value until the system is in place to effectively manage the data, or energy in this case, and allow for seamless transfer in both directions. In fact, here at the FREEDM Systems Center, we are developing a "Smart Transformer" along with a number of our partners in the region that will be the router for energy. This device also allows us to turn the corner towards a number of more efficient devices and allow for distributed control, islanding, energy storage, and the integration of direct current into homes and businesses.

All of these new controls and devices are allowing the companies in the Research Triangle Region to thrive and grow, further enhancing the Research Triangle Cleantech Cluster'spromise of being the "Smart Grid Capital of the World".

Author: Ewan Pritchard, Associate Managing Director, NSF FREEDM Systems CenterNC State University

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