RALEIGH – The North Carolina State Energy Conference brings more than 75 speakers to the NC State University McKimmon Center on Tuesday and Wednesday, to examine the impacts of energy technologies, policy, and innovation, particularly in NC.
Susan Sanford, head of the Research Triangle Cleantech Cluster, points out that the event focuses attention on all that’s happening in the state.
“I cannot think of another state where you can find all of the incredible energy resources we have here in North Carolina,” she points out.
“This is an exciting period for energy innovation in North Carolina,” she tells WRAL TechWire. “North Carolina is ranked No. 2 nationally in solar deployment, and each region in our state has a complementary focus on areas of energy innovation.
“For example, The Research Triangle region is home to the highest concentration of smart grid companies in the world and when combined with our prowess in analytics, firms can capture IoT-enabled, energy insights.”
Then there’s what’s happening elsewhere.
“Charlotte houses the highest concentration of nuclear energy services providers in the world and Northeastern NC is home to the largest wind farm in the Southeastern US,” she explains. “The state also has a focus on energy storage and what that means for solar developers, utilities, and consumers. Honestly, North Carolina provides the entire value chain of energy solutions.”
Meeting of minds
Steve Kalland, Executive Director, NC Clean Energy Technology Center, NC State University, points out: “The State Energy Conference of NC is the only venue where the state’s entire energy community comes together to discuss the future of these important technologies for NC and the larger U.S. energy marketplace.
“This conference covers everything from solar and wind energy to natural gas and nuclear power as well as energy efficiency opportunities for businesses, the military, homeowners and everyone else that uses energy in our State. In particular, with so much emphasis on clean energy development in NC today, the state’s clean energy cluster companies stand to reap huge economic benefits as global markets grow.
“At the same time, local clean energy developers and existing electric and gas utilities are working to plot our collective energy future with innovative technologies, evolutionary changes to the regulatory framework and revolutionary proposals for new business models.”
Keynote speakers at the annual event include Addison “Tad” Davis IV, principal deputy assistant secretary of defense for energy, installations and the environment; Greg Scheu, president, Americas region, ABB; which has its corporate research center in Raleigh; Ron Jarvis, vice president, sustainability, Home Depot, and others from Duke Energy, the NC Petroleum Council, the NC Sustainable Energy Association, and NC’s Electric Cooperatives.
Sessions look at energy innovation and policy regarding residential home, commercial and industrial use, government and institutional buildings, utilities and infrastructure, research and innovation, and renewable energy.
North Carolina has been a leader in developing clean and renewable energy. The NC Sustainable Energy Association’s 2016 NC Clean Energy Industry Census (the latest available), calls the industry “a major economic driver for the state.”
The 2016 census cites more than 1,000 firms, 34,000 full time jobs and $6.4 billion in annual gross revenue for the industry in NC.
The sector includes university research centers, startups and major businesses, as WRAL Techwire noted in “Cleantech Sector a Powerhouse in North Carolina’s Startup Ecosystem” last year.
Sessions at the conference run from 8:30 am. until 5 p.m. Tuesday and from 8:30 a.m. until 3 p.m. Wednesday.