College of Engineering, Computing and Applied Sciences; Research

SC Nexus Tech Hub, Clemson Receive Federal Funding for eGRID Upgrade


With a $12.5 million investment from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) announced today, Clemson University will expand its electrical grid simulator that enables rapid testing and deployment of new energy innovation.

The investment is part of a $45.4 million award to the SC Nexus for Advanced Resilient Energy (SC Nexus), a broad consortium of higher education institutions, technical colleges, numerous state agencies, the Savannah River National Laboratory, economic development alliances, community organizations, non-profits and private companies, including electric utilities. SC Nexus is led by the S.C. Department of Commerce. Clemson is a core member.

“We are thrilled that the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration has selected Clemson University, as a part of SC Nexus, to invest critical resources that will further strengthen our country’s advanced energy sector,” said President Jim Clements. “The work we are doing is transforming lives across the state of South Carolina and beyond, and we know there is more work to be done. We are excited to continue our partnership with the S.C. Department of Commerce and the core members of this consortium and look forward to our partnership elevating the lives of our communities even further.”

The EDA awarded implementation grants to 12 Tech Hubs, including SC Nexus, to scale up the production of critical technologies, create jobs in innovative industries, strengthen U.S. economic competitiveness and national security, and accelerate the growth of industries of the future in regions across the United States.

a yellow electrical grid simulator encased by tall metal beams on each corner
The Duke Energy eGRID facility at Clemson University

With the expansion, the Duke Energy eGRID (Electrical Grid Research Innovation and Development) facility at Clemson will become the preeminent facility of its kind, helping to position the state of South Carolina and Clemson University as a leader in energy technology. The facility directly supports the research and development efforts of private industry in South Carolina and allows workforce training in real-world scenarios on highly advanced equipment.

The upgrade – called the Economic Development through Grid Emulation (EDGE) project – will mobilize the eGRID facility from its base at Clemson’s Charleston Innovation Campus, bringing its worldclass grid simulation capabilities to all parts of South Carolina.

The Duke Energy eGRID allows for testing of new inverters, converters, generators, energy storage systems and other elements to evaluate performance and resiliency in a working grid used to distribute energy on a commercial scale. It can simulate any electrical grid around the world. The investment in new technology from the EDA will make the eGRID mobile and configurable and allow for testing of components with a higher power rating. The EDGE project boosts the facility’s power rating from 15 MW to 25. This will enable rigorous lifecycle and compliance testing of distributed energy resources to safeguard the U.S. electric grid and advance development of new cyber-secure grid resilient technologies.

Sez Atamturktur Russcher, distinguished professor of mechanical engineering and principal investigator on the EDGE project, said the expanded capability will attract investment in the South Carolina energy economy.

“EDGE will allow certification of higher-power grid component technologies according to international standards; facilitate development of new optimization techniques, control algorithms, safety protocols, and micro-grid management strategies for a cyber-secure and reliable grid; enable customer-site testing and commissioning of immobile assets across the hub region to attract entrepreneurs and technology companies to the hub geography, spurring investment and economic momentum and creating new growth opportunities for local supply chains,” Russcher said.

In addition to funding for eGRID, other SC Nexus projects to receive funding are:

  • Grid Enabled Cyber Operations Range project led by Savannah River National Lab – $9,995,816. This project will establish a cyber testing range for grid connected equipment, with both grid operator training and equipment testing benefits.
  • Carolina Institute for Battery Innovation (CIBI) project led by the University of South Carolina – $10,218,140. This project will establish a stationary battery manufacturing pilot line in Columbia.
  • The Education and Workforce Center project, led by the SC Technical College System – $12,637,190. This project will enhance awareness of South Carolina’s energy-focused industries and job opportunities, identify, and develop the skills necessary for success in these roles, and provide critical support services to ensure advanced energy workers have access to these opportunities.
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