BY JEFF GAVIN
The future of energy efficiency may be more than saving energy. It may also be efficient
energy capture, storage and delivery. Technologists,
engineers and some forward-thinking manufacturers
are working to set a bigger table for direct current
(DC), and one effort may be all-encompassing. It’s
called DC-to-DC power.
The EMerge Alliance, a nonprofit industry coalition
headquartered in San Ramon, Calif., wants DC to play a
greater role in an alternating current (AC) world. It and
other advocates see DC providing deeper adoption of alternative energy, power storage, a smarter grid and a world of
“AC has been the format for 100 years, principally based
on its good match with fixed-frequency, coil-wound motors
and transformers [as well as] incandescent and magnetic-
ballasted fluorescent lighting,” said Brian Patterson, EMerge
president. “But is it the best or only choice in a world of
increasing solid-state devices and other electronics?”
As examples best served by DC, Patterson cites elec-
tronically ballasted fluorescent, light-emitting diode (LED)
lighting and controls, variable-frequency AC, and electron-
ically commutated brushless DC motors used in appliances
and industrial automation.
“In fact, our use of electricity is rapidly switching to
solid-state electronics and actuators that natively run on
DC,” he said.
EMerge has developed its Occupied Space Standard
Version 1. 1 and its Data/Telecom Center Standard. The
Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE)
is exploring the adoption of these standards that serve as
an open power-distribution platform for the use of safe,
low-voltage DC power.
The Alliance for Sustainable Colorado’s
dcProject aims to transform the
40,000-square-foot Alliance Center into
its own solar-powered DC microgrid.
Exploring a bigger role for direct
current in an energy market