Duke Energy Corporation and Clemson University will create the Duke Energy e-GRID (Electric Grid Research, Innovation, and Development) Center and establish the Duke Energy Endowed chair for Smart Grid Technology.
The e-GRID Center and Duke Energy Endowed chair for Smart Grid Technology will enable innovative and collaborative partnerships through research and development and seeks to:
1) Advance the efficiency and reliability of the nation's aging electrical infrastructure
2) Accelerate new energy technology development globally, including new models for developing countries that are not well equipped to add traditional energy generation
3) Spur economic development by expediting movement of new energy-related technologies to the marketplace
4) Provide educational opportunities for the workforce of the future, other educational institutions, and others in the industry.
Through these efforts, a number of critical challenges will be addressed including:
Energy Poverty: The e-GRID Center could be used to test micro grid and renewable technology to accelerate deployment of new distributive technology to remote locations throughout the world such as Haiti and Africa.
Resiliency: The e-GRID Center could be used to test the resiliency and reliability of the grid, providing predictive analysis for severe interruptions like Hurricane Sandy.
Cyber and Physical Attacks: Grid interruption impact has severe socio/economic implications. Resilience testing will help to better understand how to protect the grid from cyber or physical attacks.
The objectives outlined below to advance energy infrastructure, improve economic and workforce development, and make a global impact will be supported by the skills, resources, and partnerships that comprise the e-GRID Center.
The e-GRID Center is designed to simulate world-wide grid conditions in a controlled laboratory environment. This control allows real devices to be placed under simulated dynamic conditions to evaluate their influence on the grid and how the grid impacts the devices. This allows for new innovations to be thoroughly vetted prior to being released into the market. The data obtained from these studies will provide innovators the information needed to certify their new technology, determine its market reach, and lower the risk of new product introduction for both the innovator and consumer. The project will also assist the electric utility industry and others to prepare for the incorporation of next-generation renewable and non-traditional technologies such as wind turbines, solar panels, battery storage devices, and electric vehicles on the grid.
Duke Energy and Clemson University believe this new e-GRID Center will spur economic development in the private sector by expediting movement of new energy-related technologies to the marketplace. The facility will be operated under a 'shared facility' model allowing multiple innovators access to the facility to thoroughly validate their new innovations. This new center will support 'Opportunity Next,' the Charleston region's three-county comprehensive, cluster-based economic development strategy, which guides the region's efforts to strengthen the local economy, improve average wages, and create new jobs over the next three-to-five years. The objective is to supercharge the region's economy, strengthen employment, and establish Charleston as an international hub for business and talent.
The e-GRID Center and the Endowed chair for Smart Grid Technology support the development of talent for the knowledge economy. In addition to hiring up to five new faculty and staff on and off campus to conduct research and teach in the areas of power systems engineering, modeling, and grid compatibility, Clemson University plans to team up with key industry, academic, and other partners to fully utilize the 15 MW Hardwire-In-the-Loop (HIL) Grid Simulator Facility for research and development projects.
In order to achieve these objectives, Duke Energy will contribute $5 million for the e-GRID Center and Smart Grid Technology Endowed Chair, and will share technical expertise and resources. Clemson University contribues a $2 million matching grant, and commits to leadership and ownership of the e-GRID Center and the Smart Grid Technology Endowed Chair.
September 2013: Announce e-GRID Center Commitment at Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting.
November 20, 2013: Host a technical workshop: 'Challenges, Value and Future Testing and Validation for Energy Systems,' for 50 - 60 technical professionals from OEM's, suppliers, national labs, universities, utilities, and other industries that are involved with the e-GRID Center.
November 21, 2013: Ribbon cutting event for e-GRID Center Opening (over 70 organizations invited).
December 31, 2014: Develop education program plan and begin hiring of faculty.
December 31, 2015: Begin graduate programs in the Fall 2015; Target of 50 graduate students engaged.
December 31, 2016: 100 graduate students engaged.
December 31, 2017: Complete hiring of faculty and develop program for four post doc positions at site with existing projects, and at least 150 graduate students engaged.
The current electrical grid, designed with large central power generation, was developed with the goal of providing electrical power to as much of the country and world as possible. Although building this grid can be considered as the greatest technological achievement of the 20th century, the model has not evolved with the world's demands. The nature of many new renewable generation options, such as distributed wind and solar sources, do not fit the central generation concept and a new model of generating and distributing electrical power must be developed to meet growing economic pressure, new emerging economies, rising demand for electrical energy, concerns about environmental impact, and the need to secure vital infrastructure. This presents a challenge - how can these new technologies be integrated while continuing to use the current existing electric grid? The transformation of the electric grid into an energy efficient digital communications network could be one of the greatest advancements of the 21st century.
Central to this transformation is the development of new technologies that can integrate seamlessly into the existing grid. The rapid growth of the distributed renewable energy sources, energy efficiency, energy storage, and smart grid technology has created new opportunities for innovations that require rapid development, testing, and certification prior to market introduction.
A world-class grid simulation facility that can mimic real-world conditions without the risks associated with using the existing grid is needed to test and validate innovations in order to integrate them more rapidly and efficiently into transmission and distribution infrastructure. These risks include wide-area power disruptions, frequency fluctuations, voltage drops, cascading accidents, and cyber or physical attacks. While building such advanced testing infrastructure can be cost prohibitive for individual entities, a 'shared facility model,' where this infrastructure is accessible to multiple innovators, provides a cost effective alternative. Without such testing infrastructure, innovations with great potential may see limited success due to the inability to prove their value to the electrical market.