DOE Announces $54 Million Project Funding, Electric Grid Could Improve with Smarter Technology

The Department of Energy announced today that it would be rolling out its plan to award
over $54 million among thirteen projects. These funds are meant to "...help American manufacturers
dramatically increase the energy efficiency of their operations and reduce costs." The
move was part of a plan first articulated in Obama's State of the Union "blueprint," and
the hope is that it will improve both energy efficiency and competitiveness in the
manufacturing sector.

One such recipient, General Motors, will use its just over $2.5 million in funding to
develop a process for die casting magnesium, which would be used to replace steel in car
doors. The newer and more efficient process would decrease door weight by 60%, resulting
in significantly better fuel economy and carbon emission savings. The Department of
Energy hopes that the potential success of this project, along with those of the twelve
others, will help reignite strides towards greater efficiency for the manufacturing
industry as a whole.

Mike Edmonds has a great article on AOL today on reforming the grid system by creating a smarter grid.  Many existing smart grid programs emphasize advanced meters. Although advanced meters are an important component of a smart grid, they are used to gather information rather than take action in response to changes in grid conditions. That's where intelligent grid-based technologies come into play. Intelligent grid-based technologies are automation systems installed out on the power grid. They include devices that actually carry and direct the flow of electricity, and use advanced electronics, software and communications to provide an intelligent response to grid conditions. They can take action in real time to restore power following an outage. They can also improve energy efficiency, boost capacity and increase power quality.  Importantly, communities will start benefiting from the systems immediately, which is crucial to build public support for smart grid deployments over the long term.