15 July 2010


SRC forms The Energy Research Corp industry-university collaboration

University-research consortium Semiconductor Research Corp (SRC) of Research Triangle Park, NC, USA has established a $5m industry-university partnership to bring clean, reliable and efficient energy systems and technologies to market. Founding industry members include ABB, Applied Materials, Bosch, First Solar (which makes solar modules based on cadmium telluride), IBM, Nexans and Tokyo Electron.

Managed by SRC subsidiary The Energy Research Corp (TERC), which was formed in 2009 to create opportunities between the semiconductor industry and the energy sector, the Energy Research Initiative (ERI) will team companies from the semiconductor sector and other energy-related sectors with university research centers in order to address the need for smart alternative energy sources and to prepare students with the technical skills required for the burgeoning industry.

Initial research will address the need for new modeling and simulation tools to support the development of improved photovoltaic devices and the development of systems and technologies to enable an efficient, reliable and secure smart-grid electricity infrastructure with integrated renewable energy resources.

“The pervasive use of simulation in semiconductor process development, device design and system analysis has been a critical factor in the success of the electronics industry. Similar capabilities do not exist for technologies in support of solar-powered systems,” says SRC executive VP Steven Hillenius. “Likewise, today’s smart-grid simulation capabilities are also limited, and new transformational approaches are required to enable significant integration of renewable energy resources into the grid,” he adds. “The development of these capabilities is beyond the scale of a single company or even industry, making the cooperation between industry and academia critical to delivering the benefits of alternative energy on a global scale,” Hillenius continues.

The ERI will initially address two critical areas for efficient distribution of renewable energy resources: photovoltaics and systems and technologies to enable and optimize smart grids.

A Photovoltaic Research Center will be established at Purdue University to address the performance, cost, reliability and manufacturing challenges of PV technologies. The center will leverage Purdue’s modeling/simulation expertise and national Network for Computational Nanotechnology framework to provide enabling analytical models and simulation tools for photovoltaic manufacturers (much as Purdue has done for the semiconductor industry).

A Smart Grid Research Center will be established at Carnegie Mellon University to support the incorporation of renewable energy resources and provide modeling, simulation and control tools needed to manage, optimize and secure the power grid. The center will develop the dynamic monitoring and decision systems (DYMONDS) required to create a new paradigm for the electricity infrastructure. In addition, personal energy systems will be enabled that provide individuals and organizations choices and flexibility in the use of energy.

The ERI will also train and educate students, providing them with the expertise and skills needed to transition these new methods into the marketplace.

Research will be undertaken by a global network of universities consisting of several university centers, starting with the Purdue and Carnegie Mellon centers. Each center will have its own research focus and area of expertise, with close coordination to complement the respective programs. Industry members of the ERI will dedicate engineering and other resources and participate in the selection of appropriate research projects.

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