May 1, 2009 | 17
Imagine all the folks on the waiting list for the Chevy Volt or a plug-in Toyota Prius plugged in their cars at once. The result? Blackout, as the world's largest machine (otherwise known as the electric grid) is overloaded.
What's needed is a device that can sense when there's sufficient capacity to juice up an electric car and when there's not—a so-called "smart charger" (which would, of course, be a key component of a "smart" grid).
And that's exactly what engineers at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Wash. have created. "If a million owners plug in their vehicles to recharge after work, it could cause a major strain on the grid," said PNNL engineer Michael Kintner-Meyer in a statement. "The Smart Charger Controller could prevent those peaks in demand from plug-in vehicles and enable our existing grid to be used more evenly."
Mar 24, 2009 | 5
The new economic stimulus package set aside $11 billion in federal funding for creation of a so-called "smart grid." But it's not clear what this national electricity delivery system will look like, how it will function or who will manage the information required to make the grid intelligent. Local power utilities can install the smart meters in homes that provide data about energy usage and constitute an integral part of the overall smart grid, but it's the cable and telephone companies that have the broadband infrastructure to send this info back to the utilities.
Over the next three years, Progress Energy, a Raleigh, N.C., power company, and the University of South Florida in St. Petersburg plan to equip some 5,000 homes and businesses in west St. Petersburg and St. Pete Beach with special meters, sensors and switches to create one of the U.S.'s largest smart grids, according to Tampa Bay Online. If the $15 million experiment is a success, Progress plans to incorporate smart-grid technology over the next 10 years in its most populated service areas, including Orlando and areas of Pinellas County in addition to St. Petersburg.
Mar 12, 2009
SAN JOSE, CALIF. (March 11, 2009) -- If you want to create a more sustainable world, you need to build better cities. If you want to build better cities, you need to understand the networks that make up cities. And if you want all of those networks to actually connect, you need to improve the "dumb grid" and make it a smart grid.
That, in a nutshell, was the message of the third day of the eTech conference. Perhaps unwittingly, Chris Luebkeman of the global design firm Arup encapsulated the theme in his morning keynote: “We need to build [X] for the elderly population,” he said, “because hopefully, we’ll all get old some day.” His X was cities -- specifically, the need to design cities so that seniors can easily get around without cars -- but X could have been networks, copyright, the environment, energy systems or experimental science itself. Improve the future. Build it better. Here’s how.
Mar 9, 2009 | 4
It looks like the U.S. isn't the only North American country planning to pump tens of millions of dollars into developing renewable forms of energy. The Canadian government has announced it will spend $41 million ($53 million Canadian) on 16 projects that promise to deliver new forms of clean energy or to help citizens reduce existing energy use.
Among them: (Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC), which will administer the funds, didn't provide specific funding amounts, nor did it specify when the funds will be available.)
Fusion technology—General Fusion Inc. in Burnaby, British Columbia, working with Los Alamos National Laboratory and Powertech Labs Inc., will now have more money to develop its fusion technology, which uses sound waves to create a fusion reaction. The hope is that this approach will enable fusion to deliver on its promise of generating electricity without greenhouse gas emissions, pollution or radioactive waste.
Feb 23, 2009 | 2
Despite the Obama administration's pledge of $11 billion to modernize the nation's electric grid, the implementation of so-called "smart-grid" technology that would enable energy efficiency while bringing renewable energy sources online faces a number of hurdles, including an out-dated infrastructure beset by congestion and bottlenecks that constrain the expanded use of sources such as wind, solar and geothermal power, according to a report issued Monday.
The ideal national clean-energy smart grid would use long-distance, extra-high-voltage transmission lines to move remote clean-energy resources to power load centers and connect to a distribution system that delivers energy and detailed, real-time information about the use of such energy to consumers, says the report by the Center for American Progress (CAP), a D.C. think tank headed by former Bill Clinton chief of staff John Podesta.
Feb 11, 2009 | 11
If you're still clutching your chest over that last sky-high electric bill and wondering how to keep it down next month, you'll be heartened to hear that help may be on the way from the company behind the world's largest search engine. Google this week announced that it's developing software called PowerMeter, which will let consumers check out their home energy use in near real-time on their computers. The company says on its blog that it's working with utility companies to ready for the market. No word on how long the testing will last before PowerMeter will be available for download.
PowerMeter will first be available through iGoogle, a Google service that lets you make a customized Web browser homepage. For those concerned about placing more information about their lives online for everyone to see, Google notes on its blog that it will not share personally identifying information with the user's utility company. Users will also be able to delete their energy data or ask their utility to stop sending data to Google PowerMeter at any time.
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