The nation's century-old energy grid might get an upgrade soon to handle alternative energy. The economic stimulus package has earmarked $11 billion to invest in smart meters and 3,000 miles of renewable-energy transmission lines. Venture capitalists and utilities also are investing in smart-grid applications at a record pace. "It's like the Internet for the energy economy," said Katherine Hamilton, head of the GridWise Alliance.
Cisco this week initiated a partner program that integrates power management with network devices to monitor and control power usage. The company estimates 30% reduction in power consumption could drive adoption. Dubbed EnergyWise, the program was announced Tuesday along with partners from Schneider Electric, makers of power distribution and automation equipment; Verdiem, which manages PC and laptop power; and SolarWinds, known for network management. The collaboration lays the groundwork for robust, automated power management, Cisco said. EnergyWise software will be available on Catalyst switches via a software upgrade to all customers with a support contract.
There is now an alternative pumping technology being developed that is simple and costs little to manufacture, yet it is highly effective and can operate using low-grade heat energy - such as waste heat or solar energy. This type of heat pump has been termed the Non-Inertive Feedback Thermofluidic Engine (NIFTE). Given their mechanical simplicity, low energy consumption and potentially low purchase cost, NIFTE pumps could be applicable for a wide variety of tasks. These range from irrigation and pond pumps to central heating circulating pumps and power showers.
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