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The buzz about hydrogen fuel cells and “smart grid” technologies has been growing louder. But what does it mean, and how is it connected to clean energy?
First, clean technologies and renewable power are only part of solving the energy puzzle we face. In order to make these technologies more viable, we need to reduce our demand through energy efficient practices that enable us to use any power we generate more wisely.
But we also need to find ways of storing and distributing that power as effectively as possible. That’s because energy demand and energy generation are never constant and do not always coincide. Excess energy is produced during periods of low demand, but it is lost if it can’t be stored for use during peak demand. Similarly, energy produced in one location might go unused while another location is straining to meet demand with too little energy produced. Renewables won’t fix this problem at all.
Getting serious about clean energy also means getting serious about energy efficiency.
Improved technologies that allow us to capture excess energy and use it when needed.
If you’ve heard about lithium-ion batteries, that’s an example of an advanced battery technology, though there are other varieties.
The "grid" often sounds like a vast interconnected system of power supply nodes, something like a world wide web of electricity that’s always there and able to supply power.
Not necessarily so.
The grid is more like a broadcast network rather than an on-demand system. Energy is produced at a central station and sent out to all customers whether they need it or not – and it’s not so much a grid as a web. Grids are sliced and diced differently depending on where you live, so your grid isn’t necessarily connected to or compatible with others.
The notion of a smart grid – or an interconnected distributed energy system –is a recent innovation. This concept is built on local generators that adjust to meet the peak demand of local lines and even just particular customers. This makes it possible to operate a network of distributed generators that provide power as needed.
Some envision that these technologies will evolve to like the personal computer, reaching the point where end users will be able to buy and operate their own electrical power systems from an interconnected grid of micro-generators.
With significant business communities of established and emerging companies in fields such as information security, modeling and simulation, IT products and services, communications, and energy, Maryland has the resources to capitalize on innovation.
Maryland has a high concentration of key partners, researchers, and customers. Major contractors and engineering firms are located in and around Maryland and the Metro DC area – Lockheed Martin, Siemens, Northrup Grumman, and SAIC – as well as key federal agencies and facilities like the National Security Agency (NSA), the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and the Department of Energy.
Federal, academic, and private institutions conduct research at leading facilities like the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab, the University System of Maryland, the National Security Agency, and more.
Take Action to Support Energy Efficient Technologies
The key to supporting the growth of energy efficient technologies in Maryland is staying informed about renewable energy policies and being sure that your Delegates and Senators know that renewable energy is important to you.