College of Engineering, Computing and Applied Sciences; Research

Clemson to host world energy conference in the U.S. for the first time


NORTH CHARLESTON — There was a time when solar and wind energy were novelties. But today many of the world’s electrical grids — from South Africa to New York City — utilize some form of renewable energy to power their infrastructures. Experts agree this is just the tip of the iceberg and that so much more is possible if the world’s best minds can just figure out how to better share ideas and information.

That’s the idea behind the IEEE Electronic Power Grid (eGRID) Conference Nov. 12-14 in North Charleston. The conference, which is being held in the United States for the first time, unites several of the globe’s leading energy experts from government, industry and academia so they can share ideas, problems and solutions to the planet’s energy challenges. The event will be hosted by Clemson University.

“For years, there have basically been two silos in the energy world: those focusing on power systems and those focusing on power electronics, but there is so much that can be learned from each other,” said Johan Enslin, Duke Energy Endowed Chair in Smart Grid Technology and executive director of the energy systems program at the Clemson University Restoration Institute (CURI). “This conference brings them together so that they can share some of the great information and ideas they have so they can all work together to come up with even better energy solutions.”

In other words, we as a society are just now figuring out the best way to have all these great new technologies like high-powered wind turbines and power inverters play nicely with existing electrical grids. The conference is an opportunity to figure out ways to do that more efficiently and better.

The event will consist of several speakers, executive sessions, industry panel sessions and technical electronic poster displays. The keynote address will be given by U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Electricity Assistant Secretary Bruce J. Walker, whose main focus is to provide leadership on a national level to modernize the electric grid, enhance the security and reliability of the energy infrastructure and facilitate recovery from disruptions to the energy supply both domestically and internationally.

“Every day we are slowly digitizing the energy that flows through our grids,” Enslin explained, “We’re just scratching the surface of how we can use all these different forms of energy — and technology — more efficiently.”

Enslin and his team were tasked with organizing this year’s conference thanks in large part to Clemson’s growing reputation in the energy-testing realm.

The Clemson University Restoration Institute’s 82,000-square-foot, $98-million SCE&G Energy Innovation Center is under contract to test and verify the world’s largest wind turbine, the MHI Vestas V164 9.5 megawatt turbine, in one of its two test beds. Also at CURI, the Duke Energy eGRID, a 15-megawatt hardware-in-the-loop grid simulator that supports education and research to speed new electrical technologies to market, is supporting projects in conjunction with the Department of Energy as well as the private sector.

“This event is a great opportunity for Clemson to show off what we’re doing here in Charleston. I’m really excited. We have great people and a great lab here. It’s about time the world finally got to see it,” Enslin said.


Clemson University Restoration Institute
Clemson University Restoration Institute’s (CURI) campus is located at the former U.S. Naval Base in North Charleston, South Carolina. The campus is comprised of three main buildings: the Warren Lasch Conservation Center, best known for its scientific and restorative work of historical artifacts; the Zucker Family Graduate Education Center, which offers master’s degrees and doctorates in electrical engineering, computer engineering and mechanical engineering, as well as a Ph.D. in computer science and a Master of Fine Arts and a Master of Science in digital production arts; and the Energy Innovation Center, which houses the Duke Energy Electrical Grid Research Innovation and Development (eGRID) as well as a 7.5-megawatt and 15-megawatt wind turbine test bed.

The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) is the world’s largest association of technical professionals with more than 423,000 members in over 160 countries around the world. It was formed in 1963 from the fusion of the American Institute of Electrical Engineers and the Institute of Radio Engineers. Its objectives are the educational and technical advancement of electrical and electronic engineering, telecommunications, computer engineering and allied disciplines.

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