The move to modernize the United States’ power transmission grid so that renewable energy can more easily deliver on its potential is one which gained some steam in the past week. There are benefits when surplus electricity can be managed locally; and, Brooklyn Treehugger Matthew McDermott relays word from The NSF (National Science Foundation) that North Carolina State University will be host to the FREEDM Systems Center.
It is the NSF’s Engineering Research Center for Future Renewable Electric Energy Delivery and Management Systems. The NSF will be supporting the center with an initial grant of $18.5 million, plus $10 million in “institutional support and industry membership fees”.
- “Exactly how will the FREEDM Systems Center be delivering us our (cringe) freedm?”
Smart-Grid Tech to Be Developed
In the broadest stroke, the FREEDM center will be working to transform “the nation’s century-old, centralized power grid into an alternative-energy-friendly “smart grid” that can easily store and distribute energy produced from solar panels, wind farms, fuel cells and other energy sources. This “Internet for energy” will enable millions of users to generate their energy from renewable sources and sell excess energy to the power companies. Researchers envision consumers using this “plug-and-play” system anytime, from anywhere.”
Such smart grid research is happening none too soon. Jason Godesky already has made the observation that “the world’s biggest machine already is breaking down under the weight of its own complexity.” So, we need all the help we can get to avoid “plug ‘n pray” time. The United States and its regional grids especially could use help with greater development and better integration of renewable energy resources.
In addition to doing smart grid research, the center will be offering a Masters degree and undergrad concentrations in renewable energy systems. Partnerships with 14 middle and high schools will also be formed to allow younger students to explore the latest research in alternative energy being done at the center.