Smartening Up the Grid

Rebuilding electrical transmission to allow for a lot more smaller-scale renewable energy, will require fundamental regulatory reform at all levels.

10 min read

The smart grid has meant a lot of things to a lot of people: a system that would be more efficient, robust, flexible, and—not least—green friendly. More than half the U.S. states have adopted so-called renewable portfolio standards requiring so-and-so much electricity to be green by such-and-such times. On June 26, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the American Clean Energy and Security Act, which mandates renewable energy standards for most of the country’s largest electric utilities. The act also includes a provision for a carbon cap-and-trade system that will make fossil fuels at least somewhat more expensive and low-carbon fuels more competitive.

But connecting new wind farms to the existing U.S. grid has already required entrepreneurs, operators, and regulators to bend and stretch rules almost to the breaking point.  As pressure grows to integrate still more wind, as well as solar concentrators, biomass combustion, and perhaps even tidal generators, rules will have to change.

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"SuperGPS" Accurate to 10 Centimeters or Better

New optical-wireless hybrid makes use of existing telecommunications infrastructure

3 min read
illustration of man looking at giant smart phone with map and red "you are here" symbol
iStock

Modern life now often depends on GPS(short for Global Positioning System), but it can err on the order of meters in cities. Now a new study from a team of Dutch researchers reveals a terrestrial positioning system based on existing telecommunications networks can deliver geolocation info accurate to within 10 centimeters in metropolitan areas.

The scientists detailed their findings 16 November in the journal Nature.

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The Future of the Transistor Is Our Future

Nothing but better devices can tackle humanity’s growing challenges

7 min read
Close-up of a colorful semiconductor wafer held the white gloved hands of a clean room technician.

A 300 millimeter silicon wafer at the Globalfoundries Inc. semiconductor plant in Dresden, Germany, on Thursday, 12 August 2021.

Liesa Johannssen-Koppitz/Bloomberg/Getty Images

This is a guest post in recognition of the 75th anniversary of the invention of the transistor. It is adapted from an essay in the July 2022 IEEE Electron Device Society Newsletter. The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not represent positions of IEEE Spectrum or the IEEE.

On the 75th anniversary of the invention of the transistor, a device to which I have devoted my entire career, I’d like to answer two questions: Does the world need better transistors? And if so, what will they be like?

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Designing Fuel Cell Systems Using System-Level Design

Modeling and simulation in Simulink and Simscape

1 min read
Designing Fuel Cell Systems Using System-Level Design

Design and simulate a fuel cell system for electric mobility. See by example how Simulink® and Simscape™ support multidomain physical modeling and simulation of fuel cell systems including thermal, gas, and liquid systems. Learn how to select levels of modeling fidelities to meet your needs at different development stages.