A Way to Make the Smart Grid Smarter - Technology Review
Smart Transformer: A prototype of a smart solid-state transformer from the Electric Power Research Institute. It’s smaller and more versatile than today’s transformers. The module on the left converts high-voltage alternating current from the grid to direct current. On the right is an inverter that converts that power to the 120-volt AC that comes out of standard wall outlets. To the right of the outlets are two more power interfaces, one for 240-volt AC power and one for 400-volt DC.
New semiconductor-based devices for managing power on the grid could make the “smart grid” even smarter. They would allow electric vehicles to be charged fast and let utilities incorporate large amounts of solar and wind power without blackouts or power surges. These devices are being developed by a number of groups, including those that recently received funding from the new Advanced Research Projects Agency for Energy (ARPA-E) and the National Science Foundation.