NSF establishes smart grid research center


Dr Alex Huang,
Director, NSF
Raleigh, NC, U.S.A. — (METERING.COM) — October 31, 2008 – With support from the National Science Foundation (NSF), a new research center on smart grids is being established at North Carolina State University.

The center, known as the NSF Engineering Research Center for Future Renewable Electric Energy Delivery and Management (FREEDM) Systems, will conduct research to transform the nation’s power grid into an efficient network that integrates alternative energy generation and novel storage methods with existing power sources. The overall goal of the center is to facilitate the use of green energy sources, reduce the environmental impact of carbon emissions, and alleviate the growing energy crisis.  

Partners in the center include Arizona State University, Florida A&M University, Florida State University, and Missouri University of Science and Technology. Rheinisch-Westfälische Technische Hochschule (RWTH) Aachen University in Germany and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology will contribute additional expertise and international perspectives.  

The center will also work with 18 state and local government organizations in North Carolina, Arizona, California, Florida, New York, and Tennessee to stimulate innovation based on its research. The involvement of more than 65 industry partners, including many small start-up firms, should spur innovation and provide university students with first-hand experience in entrepreneurship.  

Dr Alex Huang, Progress Energy Distinguished Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at NC State, will be the center’s director. The research will begin immediately, with a new headquarters for the center scheduled to open in 2010 on NC State’s Centennial Campus.

Central to the research will be the development of a "green energy hub" that will power the center’s headquarters and other buildings on Centennial Campus. The 1 MW grid will serve as a test-bed for the center’s research efforts and demonstrate the technology’s potential, while the energy storage research will focus on storage technology with longer life.

Additionally, the center will feature an intensive education program, including a master’s degree program and an undergraduate concentration in renewable energy systems.

"We are honored that NC State is leading this important research," Huang said. "Work at this center will help prepare our country and the world to take full advantage of abundant renewable energy resources."

The NSF ERC program is aimed at fostering broad-based research and education collaborations in close partnership with industry that focus on making technological breakthroughs and developing new products and services.

The center will be supported by an initial five-year, $18.5 million grant from NSF with an additional $10 million in institutional support and industry membership fees.