Smart Grid saves energy
Issue date: 7/17/09 Section: News
"This system has been working for years in Europe. [Viridity] came to us because our campus was a nice setting to demonstrate their technology since we have a mix of residential, office, research space, to test very unique needs," Tony Lowman, College of Engineering's associate dean of Research and Graduates Studies, said.
The Smart Grid technology will provide real-time measurements of power usage across the University, allowing Drexel to purchase power during times of the day when demand is low and in turn, selling at a reduced price. Drexel will also utilize this technology to analyze specific power usage on a "per building" basis, reducing costs and lowering its carbon foot print.
"[The smart grid] is going to make it more economically feasible for us to add real green energy production on campus because it will allow us to better utilize those assets. We've also requested additional funding for a much greater coverage of solar as well as a small scale wind energy resource here on campus," Lowman said.
Generating Drexel's own energy by means of wind and solar will displace energy generation that would have come from the public grid via coal and natural gas - both of which emit green house gases.
Made possible by Viridity Energy, a Conshohocken based energy-monitoring company, Drexel will implement the VPower system and eventually be able to become independent of the public power grid. This is especially important in response to events such as the Northeast Blackout of 2003 that crippled regions in the U.S. and Canada.
"Getting off the grid won't happen in the short term but it is something we are working towards," Lowman said.
The process of buying and selling of energy has slowly become possible through efforts by the U.S. government to encourage and support a system that promotes a competitive market for wholesale power trading. For the past 20 years, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has had a firm belief that an increase in competition for energy will lead to more efficient power generation.
During an address to the nation this past January, President Obama emphasized the need for a new energy infrastructure that would better fit into the global economy.