The use of renewable, efficient DC power is rapidly increasing in enterprise locations such as corporate, educational and government campuses, and its future in both commercial and residential applications is bright. Nextek Power Systems CEO Paul Savage (a founding member of the EMerge Alliance®) was among the presenters in a recent webinar on “Direct DC Power Systems for Efficiency and Renewable Energy Integration.” The event was sponsored by the Department of Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Building Technologies Program.
Renewable energy accounted for 14.3 percent of the domestically produced electricity in the United States in the first six months of 2011, according to the US Energy Information Administration’s Electric Power Monthly. Forecasts predict it will grow to more than 20 percent by 2030. Increased residential use could push that figure much higher, and Nextek and the companies it collaborates with are working towards both goals.
Mr. Savage spoke on Nextek’s work to develop standards for the equipment and systems that are emerging for real-world use. To see the slide presentation he offered for the webinar, visit the government’s Energy Efficient Standards web page, and scroll to “Attachments.”
The rationale for greater dependence on DC power is strong. More and more devices, ranging from computers to smart phones to appliances, incorporate semiconductors, which run only on DC power. The increased use of electric vehicles, which can be charged using DC power, adds to that use. The power loss that results from converting AC power from the electrical grid to DC is large, and the production of AC power replies heavily on depleting resources such as oil and coal. However, much DC power can be generated from renewable sources, particularly solar.
For decades, the drawback of DC power has been significant loss over even moderate transmission distances. But with the genesis of microgrid technology—small locations that produce their own power and draw from the grid (or add to it!) only when needed, the advantages of DC become clearer. Add to that advancements in storage technology, and DC power is definitely the wave of the future.