From organic photovoltaic technology to solid oxide fuel cell technology, engineers from across Southern California recently gathered to hear the latest innovations in renewable energy technology.

This year’s Taiwan-America Science and Technology Conference was also an opportunity for colleagues to discuss how to bring the latest innovations in renewable energy into consumers’ daily lives.

“This year’s theme, renewable energy technology, is both a timely and important topic as we seek to meet our energy challenges,” said Bill Chiu, Southern California Edison (SCE)’s director of engineering in Transmission and Distribution, as he welcomed participants to SCE’s Energy Education Center in Irwindale

More than 100 engineers and students from local universities shared information with academics and utility representatives at the one-day conference sponsored by SCE, the Taiwanese American Aeronautics and Space Association and the National Science Council of Taiwan.

SCE consulting engineer Bob Yinger presented on the vision of SCE’s Smart Grid and the Irvine Smart Grid Demonstration, a project that is essentially a functioning version of the future grid in that it closely replicates and tests many of the interlocking pieces of the smart grid from transmission, through distribution, to devices at the customer’s home.

The Irvine Smart Grid Demonstration will also test a large battery storage system with integrated photovoltaics and electrical vehicle chargers installed in a parking structure at the University of California, Irvine.

Christopher Clarke, SCE senior engineer, also presented on the Tehachapi Wind Energy Storage Project. The project will demonstrate the effectiveness of lithium-ion battery and smart inverter technologies to improve grid performance and assist in the integration of variable energy resources.   

During the conference, presenters also discussed technologies that can help in the creation, transmission or production of renewable energy on a local as well as commercial level. 

Solarmer Energy, Inc. president, Woolas Hsieh, discussed the commercialization of organic photovoltaic technology — photovoltaic cells which use an organic polymer layer to convert light into electricity — targeting consumers of portable or off-grid power. Thin and light, the material is ideal for use in remote locations that are isolated from the traditional grid.

Bloom Energy's senior director of global strategic partnerships, Dr. Mike S. Yang, presented on the company’s patented solid oxide fuel cell technology that converts fuel into electricity through an electro-chemical process rather than combustion.