Research Triangle Cleantech Cluster Launches Smart Transportation Industry Focus

Research Triangle Region economic developers and companies have officially entered the race to make the region a leader in plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) technologies.

The Research Triangle Cleantech Cluster (RTCC) will announce today (Wednesday, March 13) the launch of a smart transportation industry focus that will capitalize on the region’s critical mass of PEV companies and research, as well as a statewide plan to make North Carolina plug-in ready from mountains to sea.

The announcement will be made at a meeting of the N.C. Plug-in Electric Vehicle Taskforce, the group that is leading the statewide effort, as it celebrates completion of its statewide PEV readiness plans. The event will be hosted byAdvanced Energy, the organization that will manage RTCC’s industry engagement in smart transportation.

“Advanced Energy sees working with the RTCC to lead a smart transportation industry engagement program as one of the next logical steps for the task force to take,” said Jeff Barghout, Advanced Energy’s division director for transportation initiatives.

“The task force’s ongoing work with more than 200 organizations showed us the significant concentration of electric vehicle supply chain companies that already operate in this region. We intend to build on that work to accelerate the growth of the industry and make electric vehicles convenient for our residents to use," Barghout said.

RTCC Managing Director Lee Anne Nance said the smart transportation focus is a natural fit with the RTCC’s rapidly maturing smart grid cluster. For example, the Advanced Transportation Energy Center, co-located with N.C. State University's FREEDM Systems Center, is developing technologies that will help the electric power industry manage large-scale uptake of plug-in electric vehicles. The FREEDM Center, meanwhile, is conducting research that will transform the nation’s electric power grid into a smart grid that will manage distributed energy resources, ensure a secure communication backbone and improve efficiency.

“The center’s work is transforming the power industry in the same way the Internet transformed the computer industry from mainframe to desktop to mobile device,” Nance said. “Together, smart grid and smart transportation hold extraordinary potential for innovation and business development in our 13 counties.”

Wake County Economic Development, which leads the region’s smart grid focus, will support RTCC and Advanced Energy's work with industry knowledge and connections, said Wake EDC project manager Michael Haley.

“Wake EDC is facilitating national and global linkages of companies, suppliers, support agencies and researchers working on smart grid innovation and business development, and the spill-over and connections to smart transportation have just naturally emerged,” Haley said. “We see this as a win-win for our business development and for our region’s quality of life as we develop the full spectrum of smart, clean technologies.”

Local industry leaders, like Scott Henneberry of Schneider Electric, agree. Schneider Electric manufactures electric charging stations in Knightdale.

“Schneider Electric is a $30 billion global energy management leader, and electric vehicle charging stations are a growing and important part of that,” said Henneberry, RTCC board member and vice president of smart grid strategy for Schneider Electric, an RTCC founding company. “A massive deployment of electric vehicles will require a smart grid, so we see tremendous upside potential for this industry.”

The Research Triangle Cleantech Cluster is an initiative of business, government, academic and nonprofit leaders working to accelerate the cleantech economy and is led by a 10-member board of directors. The Research Triangle Regional Partnership (RTRP) formed and manages the RTCC with funding from industry members ABB Inc., Duke Energy, Field2Base Inc., Power Analytics Corp., PowerSecure International, RTI International, SAS, Schneider Electric, Sensus and Siemens. RTRP is a public-private partnership that leads economic development strategy for the 13-county Research Triangle Region of North Carolina.

Advanced Energy (AE) is a nationally recognized nonprofit with a mission to provide economic, environmental and societal benefits through innovative and market-based approaches to energy issues.  Established in 1980, AE has been developing innovative programs, conducting cutting-edge research and analyzing real-world effectiveness for energy issues in order to deliver tangible results with practical, sustainable solutions for customers, partners, members and the energy-using public. Located in Raleigh, N.C., AE focuses on applied building sciences in residential, commercial and industrial sectors; industrial process technologies; renewable energy; motors and drives testing; and emerging transportation initiatives (such as electric transportation). AE's facility houses state-of-the-art laboratories, where they perform testing and applied research in all of the evolving disciplines. For more information, visit

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