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Researchers Developing the "Internet for Energy"

wind transmission lines

North Carolina State University has just been awarded a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant to create the National Research Center for Future Renewable Energy Delivery Management Systems— in other words, the Internet for energy.

The center will develop technology to transform the United States’ outdated centralized power grid to a “smart” grid that can store and distribute alternative energy from solar panels, wind farms, and more. The center’s plan even allows for community involvement— individual citizens can harvest their own energy and sell it back to power companies.

Over 60 companies have partnered with the university to create the smart grid, and the NSF grant wil bolster the project with $18.5 million.

While research will begin immediately, center headquarters on NC State’s campus won’t open until 2010.

The implications for the proposed smart grid are endless— it could easily speed up development of devices of all sorts that store energy and send it back to the grid. Additionally, it could make the use of plug-in hybrid cars viable on a mass scale. Plug-in’s aren’t feasible for mass usage right now — today’s outdated grid would simply get overwhelmed at peak charging times.

So if NC State’s grid works out, look for the energy industry to be completely revolutionized— maybe not next year, but possibly in the next decade.

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Written By

was formerly the editor of CleanTechnica and is a senior editor at Co.Exist. She has contributed to SF Weekly, Popular Science, Inhabitat, Greenbiz, NBC Bay Area, GOOD Magazine, and more. A graduate of Vassar College, she has previously worked in publishing, organic farming, documentary film, and newspaper journalism. Her interests include permaculture, hiking, skiing, music, relocalization, and cob (the building material). She currently resides in San Francisco, CA.


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