NORTH CHARLESTON — At the First Conference on Local DC Electricity: Transforming the 21st Century Energy Economy March 30-April 1, hosted by Clemson University and the Clemson University Restoration Institute, experts from industry, federal labs and academia will address the latest developments in the generation, distribution and utilization of electricity.

The U.S. electricity infrastructure of generation, transmission and distribution was built over the course of a century. The aging electricity infrastructure is experiencing dramatic change, all of which could threaten the stability, reliability, resilience, affordability and environmental impact of this vital source of energy.

A keynote address at the conference in downtown Charleston will be by Jim Rogers, retired chairman and chief executive officer of Duke Energy. Other speakers include Bill Mahoney, chief executive officer of the S.C. Research Authority, and Don Talka, senior vice president and chief engineer of Underwriters LaboratoriesClick here for the conference agenda and registration information.

With the invention and commercialization of alternating current (AC) during the second half of the 19th century, the global electricity infrastructure in the 20th century was dominated by AC.

The traditional model of large centralized AC electrical power generation and long-haul distribution via high-voltage transmission and low-voltage distribution lines results in significant loss of electrical energy. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, about 70 percent of electrical energy is lost in generation, transmission and distribution. Direct current (DC) electricity, locally generated by solar panels and or windmills, is expected to save 30 percent of this loss.

Except for a few applications, most electric loads — cell phones, lap top, refrigerators, air conditioners — operate on DC power. In commercial buildings, as much as 80 percent of loads are DC. Since the current electricity infrastructure in U.S. is dominated by AC, there is a need to develop hybrid adaptive smart DC microgrids that will accelerate the adaptation and utilization of clean renewable energy. Other than cost savings, local DC electricity will provide reliable and resilient microgrids.

The sponsors of the conference are SCRA, EMerge Alliance, Duke Energy, StarLine DC SolutionsArgonne National LaboratoryEmerson Electric Co. and The InterTech Group.