DOE, Duke Energy and EPRI Partner to Test Advanced Energy Technologies for Utilities

April 20, 2011 by Jeff Shepard

The Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) has signed a partnership deal with Duke Energy and with the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) to identify opportunities for testing and deploying ARPA-E funded projects that will bolster the electric grid.

Through the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), ARPA-E, Duke Energy, and EPRI will identify opportunities to expand cutting edge smart grid developments, grid-scale energy storage, power electronics, and energy efficient cooling technologies, among others. This new umbrella deal, which will allow for similar partnerships with other utilities, comes two months after ARPA-E announced six of its projects have secured more than $100 million in outside private capital investment.

"ARPA-E technologies have the potential to lower utility customers’ energy costs and strengthen the reliability of the electric grid," said Secretary Steven Chu. "This partnership with the utility industry will move promising technologies from the lab into the marketplace at a much faster pace."

"ARPA-E is spurring innovation in a way that could help transform not just the energy sector, but the economy as a whole," said Duke Energy CEO Jim Rogers. "Our nation is at an energy crossroads, and we must develop and deploy advanced sources of clean, reliable, affordable energy more rapidly."

"Technology innovation will be key to success as we embrace the challenge of providing reliable, affordable and sustainable electricity," said Michael Howard, president and chief executive officer of EPRI. "The ARPA-E agreements will facilitate identifying, testing and deploying these innovations that will benefit electricity customers and strengthen the electric system."

Under the terms of the agreement, ARPA-E will facilitate the exchange of information between ARPA-E-supported projects, EPRI and Duke Energy, which delivers energy to approximately 4 million U.S. customers in five states. Duke Energy could deploy and test ARPA-E technologies at various power plants or wind farms. The technologies may also be studied at the company’s McAlpine substation, a test bed for renewable, grid storage and smart grid technologies, or at the company’s Envision Center, a smart grid demonstration and testing facility in Erlanger, KY.

EPRI, whose members represent more than 90% of the electricity generated in the US, will offer test-bed facilities at two of its research laboratories: a transmission and distribution research facility in Charlotte, North Carolina and at its Knoxville, Tennessee laboratory, where testing is conducted on consumer electronics, lightings, smart grid components, heating and cooling systems and electric vehicle infrastructure requirements.