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Energy internet could change the economy

Alex Huang, a visiting professor at Aalto, develops technologies that turn energy buyers into producers and distributors.

This has already happened to information. We have moved from centralised production and top-down sales to a world in which more and more citizens have the opportunity to create, share and sell information.

'This represents a complete change in thinking made possible by internet technology. Could the same thing happen to energy so that renewable energy is produced, sold, distributed and owned by everyone?' pondered NC State University professor Alex Huang at the Aalto Energy Efficiency Program event, where research and advances from the past year were presented.

The system described by Alex Huang is called the energy internet, and it is already being referred to as the next industrial revolution. However, many challenges have to be resolved before this revolution can happen.

'Energy production and distribution has traditionally required large investments. Along with the physical level, the cyber and social levels also have to work,' explained Huang, who recently received a grant of $146 million from the United States Department of Energy to develop the technology needed for the energy internet.

Once it's up and working, the energy internet could create business that we may not even be able to imagine now.

'The combination of the internet and retail trade led to Ebay, the internet and videos to Youtube, and the internet and taxis to Uber. The energy internet will certainly create new business that, at the very least, is characterised by resource sharing and the fact that customers and their needs are the number one priority,' predicted Huang.

The lower price of investments and decentralisation of distribution may also accelerate increased use of renewable energy.

The lower price of investments and decentralisation of distribution may also accelerate increased use of renewable energy. In her opening address at the event, Vice President of Aalto University Tuija Pulkkinen emphasised the importance of clean energy.

'Sustainable and affordable energy is absolutely the key issue for the future of society. Energy is also one of the core themes in Aalto's multi-disciplinary approach.

The seminar was organized by Aalto Energy Platform and Aalto Energy Efficiency Research Programme.

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