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Taking Smart Grid Technology Out of the Lab and Into the Marketplace

April 15, 2011 - 1:12pm


In his 2011 State of the Union address, President Obama challenged Americans to “win the future” by out innovating the rest of the world.  Yesterday, the Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) agreed to partner with Duke Energy and the Electric Energy Power Research Institute (EPRI) to test cutting-edge technologies that could strengthen the nation’s electric grid. This partnership sends a clear signal that the Department of Energy is stepping up to the plate to deliver on the President’s challenge.

ARPA-E will work with Duke Energy and EPRI to take government-funded technologies out of the lab and into the real world for testing and possible deployment. More specifically, the goal is to pinpoint opportunities to enhance smart grid development, grid scale energy storage, power electronics, and energy efficient cooling systems and to begin to apply these technologies in the marketplace. As ARPA-E Director Arun Majumdar said, the agreement will serve as the “connective tissue” between research and application.

Now what does this partnership actually mean? Well, according to the agreement, ARPA-E will facilitate the exchange of technical information between ARPA-E-supported projects and Duke Energy so Duke can perform practical, real world scenario tests at its McAlpine substation facility. Additionally, Duke Energy could deploy these technologies at its various power plants and wind farms, which serve approximately 4 million people. Meanwhile, EPRI plans to test ARPA-E funded technologies at its research laboratories in Charlotte, North Carolina and Knoxville, Tennessee, where they test heating and cooling systems, smart grid and electric vehicles components, and consumer electronics.

In essence, the ARPA-E, Duke Energy and EPRI partnership will take early stage technologies out of the lab and test them to see if they can revolutionize the way we use and store electricity. Yesterday, David Mohler, Duke Energy’s Chief Technology Officer said that the agreement will “expand the dialogue and connect research and development to real life.”  

For more information about the agreement, see the press release.