Research to Watch
Project/Principal Institutions: Energy Storage Systems Research Program
Sandia National Laboratory
Is investigating ultracapacitors and flywheels, along with zinc-bromine, sodium-sulfur, vanadium redox flow, and lead-acid batteries, to more efficiently store electricity on the grid.
Project/Principal Institutions: Energy Smart Miami
General Electric, City of Miami, Cisco Systems, Silver Spring Networks, Florida Power and Light
A two-year, $200 million smart-grid project, rolling out a million smart meters to consumers.
Project/Principal Institutions: Upwind
A consortium of 40 European universities and businesses, led by the Technical University of Denmark
Is developing the components need for large wind turbines, each able to generate 8 to 10 megawatts; also investigating new materials for rotor blades and improving generator designs.
Project/Principal Institutions: Large-Scale Wind Generation Analysis
Carnegie Mellon Electricity Industry Center
Is studying how the grid can cope with the intermittent nature of wind power as it becomes responsible for a bigger portion of generated electricity.
Project/Principal Institutions: FutureGen
The U.S. Department of Energy and the FutureGen Alliance, an international consortium of large coal users and producers
Hopes to begin constructing the first near-zero-emissions coal plant next year, at a cost of $1.5 billion. Generating 275 megawatts, it will demonstrate carbon capture and sequestration.
Project/Principal Institutions: CERTS Microgrid project
University of Wisconsin, American Electric Power, and the Consortium for Electric Reliability Technology Solutions
Microgrids will make it easier to integrate distributed energy resources, such as microturbines and residential photovoltaics, into utility-scale grids.
Project/Principal Institutions: Cooper Basin Power Plant
University of Queensland Geothermal Energy Center of Excellence, Australia
Is supporting the development of an Australian geothermal plant that could supply four gigawatts of electricity by 2030, which would make it the largest such power plant in the world.
Project/Principal Institutions: Gen IV Nuclear Reactors
Argonne National Laboratory, Generation IV International Forum
Is developing a number of designs for advanced fission reactors, with the goal of creating cheaper and safer reactors that produce less waste. Commercial reactors based on the designs could follow in about 20 years.
Project/Principal Institutions: Helios
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, UC Berkeley
Is trying to use solar energy to produce fuels through a variety of approaches, including synthetic biology and the development of new materials.
Project/Principal Institutions: Powering the Planet Center for Chemical Innovation
A consortium of universities and energy companies centered at Caltech
Is developing advanced materials that can be combined to split water into oxygen and hydrogen using sunlight.