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Direct Coupling

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Nextek Power Systems Partners with Leading Technology and Energy Providers to Build China’s First Direct-Current Microgrid

Nextek Power Systems has announced a partnership with the School of Energy Research at Xiamen University, and several other technology companies, to create the first direct-current powered commercial building in China. Nextek joins Canadian Solar, Intel Corporation, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and People Power Company in the collaborative effort, which is designed to showcase technology that will change the way China manages, controls and consumes energy. The project will integrate renewable energy sources and storage batteries to serve building electrical loads through one-touch mobile and web-based energy management systems and controls.

This effort is especially significant because Chinese building energy consumption methods, if unchanged, could account for 20 percent of the world’s 2020 global coal consumption, according to the National Resources Defense Council. New Chinese building energy codes call for at least 50 percent energy savings at less than a 10 percent cost increase, compared to existing building costs.

Nextek Power Systems’ role will be to introduce the first Direct Coupling® Microgrid in mainland China that will incorporate diverse energy loads such as direct-current lighting, air conditioning, data centers, electrical vehicle charging and building plug loads.

“Nextek Power Systems is delighted to be working with our friends at LBNL, Intel, People Power Company, Canadian Solar and Xiamen University to field our first significant installation in the country,” said Paul Savage, CEO of Nextek Power Systems. “We think the opportunities that will spring from this are endless.”

People Power Company will provide cloud-based energy management, control and behavioral analytics applications that will enable building managers to control and manage building loads. Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory will develop methods and algorithms for the optimal equipment choice and operation of direct-current microgrids. Canadian Solar will provide customized solar panels for this rooftop solar system and Intel will provide technical expertise and advice on the research

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Nextek CEO Helps Make the Case for DC Power

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.

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