U.S. renewable energy sourcing is among the lowest of developed nations-an ominous sign of a looming energy crisis. Three major factors contribute to this crisis:
- Energy insecurity - most imported oil comes from destabilized regions
- The non-renewable nature of fossil fuels
- Increased global warming caused by CO2 emissions from fossil fuel combustion.
To overcome these problems, we must look for solutions to better utilize long term, secure, sustainable, and environmentally friendly energy.
The Earth has an abundance of renewable energy sources, including solar, wind, geo-thermal, hydro, and ocean waves. In addition to building renewable energy farms in remote regions and transmitting the power to load centers via transmission lines, large-scale utilization of distributed renewable energy resources near your home and business is another must in order to significantly improve U.S. energy security and independence, as well as global environmental health. In the FREEDM Systems vision, residential users will take charge of their energy needs with innovative solar panels, wind turbines, and electric/hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. Other new technologies, unforeseen today, will emerge as a result of the massive innovation fostered by the paradigm shift advocated by the FREEDM Systems ERC. Residential and commercial customers will sell or store excess power generated by their solar, wind, or fuel cell energy sources back to the power companies. This will reduce the demand for new oil or coal-fired power generation plants as well as decrease green-house gas emissions.
Incorporating millions of new energy generation sources will require wide-ranging transformation of the nation's electrical grid infrastructure. The key to solving the energy crisis is not necessarily the renewable energy itself, but the infrastructure needed to deliver and manage widespread use of distributed renewable energy resources. While renewable energy does play a crucial role, creating the infrastructure needed to deliver and manage the widespread use of distributed renewable energy resources is paramount to solving the energy crisis.
The FREEDM Systems ERC proposes a smart-grid paradigm shift that will enable the U.S. to take advantage of advances in renewable energy for a secure and sustainable future.
The proposed FREEDM System is a green energy grid infrastructure that will:
- Allow plug and play of any energy resource or storage device, anywhere and anytime
- Manage distributed energy resources and storage devices through Distributed Intelligence
- Pioneer a scalable and secure communication backbone
- Be capable of being totally isolated from the central grid, if necessary, continuing to operate based on 100% renewable energy
- Provide perfect power quality and guaranteed system stability
- Have improved efficiency, operating the alternating current system with a unity power factor.
The FREEDM Systems ERC will realize its vision through breakthroughs in fundamental research (system theory, advanced storage, and post-silicon power devices) and enabling technology development (secured communication, distributed grid intelligence, high-frequency and high-voltage power conversion, and distributed energy storage devices).