Powering up - with the energy of innovation
Renewable energy represents a multi-billion business opportunity with unlimited growth potential. Our state, our nation and our world are all seeking to reduce their dependence on oil and develop cleaner and more sustainable energy alternatives.
The Research Triangle Region Cleantech Cluster (RTCC) is leading the way with a critical mass of researchers, more than 500 companies and a range of support organizations that are accelerating economic and technological growth in smart grid, advanced transportation, alternative energy and energy efficiency.
N.C. State University's FREEDM Systems Center is transforming the nation's electric power grid into a smart grid that will easily store and distribute renewable energy produced from solar panels, wind farms, and other energy sources. The FREEDM system is the "internet for energy", it will transform the power industry in a similar way that the internet transformed the computer industry from the mainframe computer paradigm to the distributed computing we have today. Such a paradigm shift will be accompanied by massive innovation in clean energy technologies and information technologies. And, this transformation will occur in the Research Triangle Region.
As business leaders seek to develop innovative business models, understanding the policies and economics of clean tech is critical. The North Carolina Solar Center (NCSC), also at NC State University, is home to the nation's largest and most cited database for policy and financial incentive information on energy efficiency and renewable energy - covering the entire United States. Funded by the Department of Energy, the DSIRE (dee-sire) project (www.dsire.org) is in its fifteenth year and attracts web traffic from all over the world - more than 750,000 hits a month, in fact. The NCSC is also leading the workforce development efforts around solar and wind in the region, serving as a DOE Solar Train-the-Trainer center for NC, SC, VA, MD, and Washington DC.
Research teams from UNC, Duke, N.C. State, N.C. Central Universities and RTI International are working together at the Energy Frontiers Research Center to develop molecular catalysts and light absorbers and integrate them with nanoscale architectures, generating fuels and electricity from sunlight.
Novozymes North America, world leader in enzyme technology, is collaborating with Piedmont Biofuels, the leader in biodiesel fuel plant design and production, to create the nation's first commercially viable enzymatic biodiesel pilot plant to convert agricultural waste into biofuels leveraging the regions generous biomass resource.
Cree, a shining example of a Research Triangle University spin-out success is leading a global revolution to replace energy-wasting traditional lighting technologies through the use of energy-efficient, environmentally friendly LED lighting. Cree is a market-leading innovator of lighting-class LEDs, LED lighting, and semiconductor solutions for wireless and power applications.
We're home to solar companies that feed our electric power grid; 3Tex, which makes textiles for wind turbine blade manufacturers; and American Superconductor, maker of electronics for turbine generators. Between the Power companies Duke Energy and Progress Energy and the strong military presence North Carolina will offer tremendous buying power into the future. Advanced Energy and the NCSC at N.C. State, the Advanced Transportation Energy Center (ATEC) and the Advanced Vehicle Research Center, along with governmental organizations and businesses across our region are collaborating on NC Get Ready!, an initiative to accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles across the state.
Our membership in the International Cleantech Network connects our innovation-leading companies with an exclusive network of like-minded clusters around the world ensuring that our companies have the network needed to keep their competitive edge. New sector leaders arrive every day. Among them, U.S.-Israeli biofuels technology leader HCL CleanTech, which has moved its headquarters to our region as it builds its first pilot plant to convert woody biomass to fuel - paving the way to use one of North Carolina's abundant natural resources to create an industry for the future.
From commercializing clean energy and energy efficiency innovations to analyzing and finding markets for the data these new devices create, the Research Triangle Region is, well, energized.