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Clemson University opens its energy systems testing and research center

News International-French

25 Nov 2013

The world-class facility was named the SCE&G Energy Innovation Center during a dedication that marks the beginning of groundbreaking research, education and innovation at the Clemson University Restoration Institute (CURI) campus. SCE&G supported the center with a $3.5 million gift.

The center houses the world’s most-advanced wind-turbine drivetrain testing facility capable of full-scale highly accelerated mechanical and electrical testing of advanced drivetrain systems for wind turbines. A drivetrain takes energy generated by a turbine’s blades and increases the rotational speed to drive the electrical generator, similar to the transmission in a car.

Duke Energy named the 15-megawatt hardware-in-the-loop grid simulator the Duke Energy eGRID — Electrical Grid Research Innovation and Development — center. The eGRID, housed in the SCE&G Energy Innovation Center, supports education, research and economic development to speed new electrical technologies to market.

Hardware-in-the-loop is when a device is connected to a system — in this case an electrical device connected to a simulated electrical grid — and the device performs under test as it would under actual conditions. The eGRID can simulate the electrical grid of any country in the world.

Duke Energy is contributing $5 million to help fund laboratory infrastructure and educational program development and fund a Smart Grid Technology Endowed Chair. Duke Energy employees also will provide the center with ongoing technical expertise and resources.

Duke Energy’s endowment was matched by the SmartState Program to establish two distinguished professorships. Together, these three positions will form a focused smart-grid technology research team that will lead to new innovations and help educate the workforce of the future.

Speaking to an international audience of more than 1,000 people, including elected representatives, U.S. Department of Energy officials and industry executives from around the world, Clemson University President James F. Barker said the facility places South Carolina at the forefront of energy systems testing and research.

Testing and research at the Innovation Center will encompass many facets of the electrical market to help transform the electrical infrastructure into a more distributed, resilient and efficient system. Focus areas include energy storage; solar energy; wind energy; traditional energy sources, such as natural gas and diesel systems; smart-grid and micro-grid technologies; fuel cells; aerospace systems; electric vehicle charging systems; grid security; and others.

The Innovation Center also will house engineers with two partner companies: Savannah River National Laboratory (SRNL) and FEV Inc. SRNL will conduct research into grid security and resilience. Germany-based FEV, a leading developer of advanced powertrain and vehicle system technologies whose North American headquarters are in Detroit, will establish a research and development center of excellence at CURI.

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