This technology enables consumers to communicate data to and from power companies. It increases the efficiency, reliability, and sustainability of power networks, and is rapidly being developed right here in the Research Triangle region of North Carolina.
In 2011, IEI commissioned and funded market research that documented the diverse smart grid assets in the Triangle region. With this research report as a baseline, the Research Triangle Cleantech Cluster connected with allied businesses, academic institutions and interest groups to formally launch a unique, regional organization focused on market transformation in clean technology.
The Cleantech Cluster has raised more than $750,000 in board member contributions as well as membership contributions, among other streams, to continue this work. Some of this funding will also result in a second, more in-depth study of clean tech.
“IEI was an important early champion of the Research Triangle Cleantech Cluster and provided financial and strategic support at a critical phase of the Cluster’s development. IEI helped turn research into practice in a tangible way that will have lasting economic development impacts regionally and statewide.”
-Lee Anne Nance, the Senior Vice President of Research Triangle Regional Partnership and Managing Director of the Research Triangle Cleantech Cluster
The economic impact of smart grid is astronomical. Smart grid technology is designed to automatically respond to and prevent power outages, which cost the nation roughly $150 billion annually, according the Department of Energy.
The Research Triangle region has at least 59 core smart grid energy firms, with an estimated 3,000 people work in smart grid technologies in the Triangle. These firms span across the entire value of the smart grid chain, from communications technology integration to software and hardware development. Only California has more smart grid locations.
Surrounded by Tier 1 research universities, specialized research and development centers, and the nation’s largest utility, the Triangle region is taking advantage of these assets and rapidly expanding this technology.
If fully implemented, smart grids could reduce energy use and emissions by approximately 252 million metric tons, or 18 percent of the total electric sector by 2030.
Through power companies, local businesses and homes, North Carolina has the opportunity to create and distribute this technology worldwide and use it locally.
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