April 12, 2011 By Colin Wood
A research team at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln is preparing to begin the second stage of a three-year green energy pilot project that’s researching the viability of integrating wind and solar power into a municipal power grid to power traffic and street lights.
Funded by a $1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation, the project is called Energy Plus Roadways. Those involved hope to develop a smart grid system for roadway infrastructure that will prove practical for widespread, large-scale use.
The end goal is negative energy consumption, said Anuj Sharma, a UNL assistant professor of civil engineering. In other words, more energy would be produced by the municipal grid than is consumed. Ideally a smart grid system would generate enough renewable energy to power all the traffic and street lights in the city and still have some left over to sell back to the power companies.
“That’s where the name Energy Plus Roadways comes from,” Sharma said.
The second phase of the project, scheduled to begin in May, involves developing the electronic control system that would allow a network of wind and solar power generators to intelligently distribute electricity where it’s needed, said Jerry Hudgins, the project’s leader and also a professor of electrical engineering at UNL. The team will run simulations to test how such a system could adapt to power grids of different sizes and layouts.
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All over the country, community leaders are looking to boost economic development through various initiatives. One key element in many of those initiatives is the use of information technology. When local governments build IT infrastructure, create e-government applications, assist high-tech startups or otherwise focus on technology, they create conditions that draw businesses to their communities and help retain skilled workers. This paper discusses and provides examples of these various ways local government can use technology to ultimately make a community more attractive to businesses, visitors and residents.