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FOCUS: Smart Grid 2010

11/18/2010 | German House New York

Recent German American Smart Grid Event Shows Opportunities for Cooperation

This roundtable discussion focused on the technology, policy, and business outlook of intelligent energy management systems.

Intelligent energy management is quickly becoming the most important technology for developing a sustainable energy economy. Governments, researchers, and companies all over the world are working to find the best way to implement these solutions. On November 18th, the German Center for Research and Innovation (GCRI) and the German American Chamber of Commerce, Inc. (GACC) held a roundtable discussion to inform the public of current and future steps in smart grid from the German and U.S. perspectives.

The event entitled Focus: Smart Grid was moderated by Kurt Becker, Associate Provost for Research and Technology and Professor of Physics at the Polytechnic Institute of New York University, who also introduced a definition of smart grid, why it is needed and who will benefit from it. He defined the ultimate smart grid as a system that modernizes energy transmission and distribution, aggregates multiple networks, and connects multiple power generation companies and transmission operators.

Christian Hoepfner, Director of Technical Operations at the Fraunhofer Center for Sustainable Energy Systems, spoke about smart grid technologies, clean energy, and renewable energy challenges for the electrical grid. He pointed out that electricity will become the most important energy carrier and that optimization of the energy system is key for climate protection, supply security and the economy.

James T. Gallagher, Senior Director of Energy Policy at the New York City Economic Development Corporation, informed the participants about New York City’s opportunities and challenges concerning smart grid. He clearly illustrated the role of buildings for the grid in the future.

Dr. Barbara Kates-Garnick, Consultant of Urban Technologies at the Polytechnic Institute of New York University, discussed barriers to innovation in U.S. energy markets and focused on micro grids as a means to solving a range of energy problems on the local level, including smoothing the peak, integrating renewables, and enabling customer participation in the wholesale market.

Throughout the two-hour event, the audience participated in a lively discussion with the presenters. Despite the need for a revised regulatory process in the U.S., the group was optimistic that the market will demand the smart grid technology.

More information about the GACC, including future events and services, can be found at

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  • Featured Speakers

    • James T. Gallagher

      Senior Director Energy Policy, NYC Economic Development Corporation

    • Dr. Christian Höpfner

      Director, Fraunhofer CSE (Center for Sustainable Energy Systems)

    • Dr. Barbara Kates-Garnick

      Consultant, Polytechnic Institute at NYU, former Vice President at Nationalgrid