Connecting Renewables Directly to the Grid

GE Global Research
Resilient Multi-Terminal HVDC Networks with High-Voltage High-Frequency Electronics
Graphic of GE's technology
Program: 
ARPA-E Award: 
$4,487,156
Location: 
Niskayuna, NY
Project Term: 
01/23/2012 to 01/22/2015
Project Status: 
ACTIVE
Technical Categories: 
Critical Need: 
The U.S. electric grid is outdated and inefficient. There is a critical need to modernize the way electricity is delivered from suppliers to consumers. Modernizing the grid's hardware and software could help reduce peak power demand, increase the use of renewable energy, save consumers money on their power bills, and reduce total energy consumption--among many other notable benefits.
Project Innovation + Advantages: 
GE is developing electricity transmission hardware that could connect distributed renewable energy sources, like wind farms, directly to the grid--eliminating the need to feed the energy generated through intermediate power conversion stations before they enter the grid. GE is using the advanced semiconductor material silicon carbide (SiC) to conduct electricity through its transmission hardware because SiC can operate at higher voltage levels than semiconductors made out of other materials. This high-voltage capability is important because electricity must be converted to high-voltage levels before it can be sent along the grid's network of transmission lines. Power companies do this because less electricity is lost along the lines when the voltage is high.
Impact Summary: 
If successful, GE would reduce the complexity of electricity transmission and enable the efficient, low-cost integration of distributed renewable energy sources into the grid.
Security: 
A more efficient, reliable grid would be more resilient to potential disruptions from failure, natural disasters, or attack.
Environment: 
Enabling increased use of wind and solar power would result in a substantial decrease in carbon dioxide emissions in the U.S.--40% of which are produced by electricity generation.
Economy: 
This project will result in increased domestic renewable electricity generation that will help the U.S. meet its growing electricity demand.
Contacts
ARPA-E Program Director: 
Dr. Timothy Heidel
Project Contact: 
Dr. Ranjan Kumar Gupta
Partners
North Carolina State University
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute