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Boeing, Siemens Form Strategic Energy Alliance

The partnership is centered around development of secure microgrid energy management applications for the Department of Defense.

Just when you thought you were up to speed on the latest energy advances by getting a good grasp on the idea of the smart grid, along comes another term to become familiar with: microgrid. A microgrid is a localized grouping of electricity generation and energy storage that can operate connected to a traditional centralized grid (macrogrid); however, this connection to the macrogrid can be disconnected allowing the microgrid to function autonomously.

Now comes news that Boeing and Siemens have formed a strategic alliance for the joint development and marketing of microgrid technologies to improve energy access and security for the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD). The DOD is reportedly the largest energy consumer in the federal government, spending $4 billion on energy in fiscal year 2010.

The alliance, aimed at providing the DOD with energy independence and efficiency, as well as lower costs, leverages Boeing’s expertise in providing the DOD with systems and technologies and Siemens’ global energy management capabilities.

“The DOD is, at times, dependent on local utilities for power,” says Judy Marks, head of Siemens’ U.S. Federal Business. “This approach works, but in the future there may be the need for the DOD to ‘island’ or cut themselves off from the grid for security reason.”

The microgrid management solution being created by Boeing and Siemens will be designed to:
• implement economical energy-efficiency tools that allow for analysis, control and automation of energy processes;
• use smart energy controls to provide real-time data to manage energy use; and
• integrate renewable energy sources and storage.

“Creating smart and secure microgrids requires unprecedented levels of interoperability, integration of legacy systems, communications and security,” says Tim Noonan, vice president of Boeing Energy. 

Like most cutting edge technology developments, research, development and deployment tend to start with the military or other branches of government and, as they are proven, filter out to the private sector. Considering that manufacturing is the largest business user of energy, the microgrid developments being created by the Boeing-Siemens alliance could soon be at play in the manufacturing industries.
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