NEWS IN THE WORLD OF POWER AND INTEGRATED BUILDING SYSTEMS
The Growth of Medium-Voltage DC Work
> A REPORT PUBLISHED by Navigant
Research, “Direct Current Distribution
Networks,” examines the opportunity for
direct current (DC) distribution networks
in four key market segments: off-grid/bad
grid telecommunications, data centers,
commercial building grids and off-grid
military applications. Each segment
involves different market assumptions,
dynamics and drivers.
While large, centralized power
plants are expected to continue to
play a role in providing alternating
current (AC) power to the wholesale
macrogrid (the nation’s interconnected
electric transmission grid), there is a
growing momentum at the electric-service-distribution level to diversify
power offerings and pursue solutions
incorporating a growing proportion of
According to Navigant, a
heated debate continues over the
advantages and disadvantages
of DC. The majority of progress
in developing DC-based
technologies has occurred at either the
high-voltage (over 1,000V) or low-voltage
(under 100V) level.
“However, since microgrids and
building-scale nanogrids typically operate
at medium voltage, much work needs to
be done to bridge this voltage innovation
gap,” said Peter Asmus, a principal
research analyst with Navigant. Medium-voltage is defined as roughly 380V–400V.
The utility industry’s current focus
on medium-voltage DC distribution
networks are with systems that are
mostly concentrated on the data center
market segment. However, that can also
apply to commercial buildings.
DC distribution networks face other
challenges, though. One challenge relates
to the need for standards and open-grid
architectures that can help integrate the
increasing diversity of resources.
However, according to Navigant,
there is momentum at the distribution
level of electricity service to diversify
power offerings and pursue hybrid
solutions that incorporate a growing
proportion of DC.
Navigant expects that global DC-distribution-network implementation
revenue will grow from $2.8 billion in
2015 to $5.1 billion in 2024.
National Science Foundation Investing in Wireless Research
> WIRELESS COMMUNICATION HAS BECOME an indispensable
feature of everyday life. Recognizing that its role in the
development of emerging technologies will be vital, the federal
government has made a sizable investment in research.
In June, the Obama administration’s Advanced Wireless
Research Initiative announced it had pledged more than
$400 million in public and private funds through the National
Science Foundation (NSF). The money will support wireless
communications research and infrastructure platform. The
goal is to make wireless communication faster, smarter, more
responsive and more robust.
According to the NSF, the number of U.S. wireless-connected
devices has more than doubled to 350 million from a decade ago,
carrying more than 100,000 times the traffic than was supported
in 2008. Experts anticipate as many as 200 billion connected
devices globally by 2020.
With these numbers, the need for ultra-high-speed, high-bandwidth and low-latency wireless connectivity will only increase.
Demand for advanced wireless communications is not
just a matter of connecting more smartphones and tablets.
Environmental sensing in city government, vehicle-to-vehicle
communications and self-driving cars, and a host of other new
critical platforms also demand improved wireless technologies.
NSF funding will support research development in three key
areas. Ultra-high-frequency millimeter-wave data transmission
at ultra-high speeds over networks that span only a few blocks
will dramatically improve the speed and capacity of wireless
data transmission. Dynamic spectrum sharing over limited
radio bandwidth enables providers to connect and support a
growing number of devices that could eventually reach the
trillions. Finally, network virtualization through software-defined networking and software-defined infrastructure will
improve security, performance and resilience in wired and
Jim Kurose, head of computer and information science and
engineering at NSF, described the research on advanced wireless
“[It will] take us beyond the current and next generation of
wireless—beyond what has been envisioned thus far,” he said.