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Eaton Recognized for ¨Open Innovation¨ Approach to Microgrid Tech

A strategic focus on an open, collaborative approach to microgrid technology and applications is paying dividends at Cleveland-based industrial engineering multinational Eaton Corp. It also earned the privately-held corporation a Berkeley-Haas Open Innovation Award.

Eaton placed second in the Berkeley-Haas Business Transformation category of this year’s competition in recognition of its success in ¨leveraging open innovation to transform corporate culture, launch new cross-functional, multinational initiatives and collaborate with technology experts worldwide,¨ management highlights in a press release.

Eaton Microgrid Innovation

Eaton’s winning submission included a case study of its microgrid business line, which is growing fast as a result of innovation partnerships it has established with universities, military bases, utilities, government labs and non-profits. Such initiatives draw on shared expertise and resources encompassing renewable power, software and cybersecurity. They also provide essential test-beds for evaluating and commercialization of innovative technology and applications, Eaton pointed out.

Spurring innovation and streamlining microgrid deployment

Specifically with regard to innovative microgrid technology, Eaton and its open innovation partners demonstrated the ability to save 80 percent of microgrid energy storage costs. The team also developed technology that yields substantial savings in microgrid generation fuel costs. That reduces the risk to military personnel, who don’t have to make nearly as many life-threatening fuel transport missions for forward-operating bases.

On December 10, Eaton announced it had developed a microgrid energy system that simplifies and expedites deployment of complex microgrid and energy storage systems. Designed for use in critical stand-alone applications that require secure, safe, efficient and reliable power using existing and new assets, the system’s control module – Eaton’s Power Xpert Energy Optimizer – helps maintain microgrid stability, shaves peak demand, shifts load and manages black start-ups.

Eaton’s new microgrid platform also maximizes integration of renewable power generation capacity and/or provides utility-scale demand response functionality. Predictive analytics and control include weather and power market price forecasts that enable end users to manage generation, storage and distribution assets in ways that maximize overall system performance, Eaton touts.

Recognizing new ways to resolve complex, global challenges

More broadly, Eaton’s scalable open innovation approach and process ¨empowers companies to transform themselves and solve complex challenges affecting humankind,¨ according to management.

A technology leader in Eaton’s corporate research team, Dr. Christopher Herbst accepted the award for Eaton at the second annual World Open Innovation Conference that was held this past November in Santa Clara, California. The Berkeley-Haas awards are a collaboration of innovation company NineSigma and the Garwood Center for Corporate Innovation at UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business.

“Companies are learning that being more open in their innovation processes can create stronger businesses and happier customers,” commented Dr. Chesbrough, faculty director of the Garwood Center for Corporate Innovation. “All of us know more than any one of us, and these companies are truly changing the way we all solve problems, compete and collaborate.”

Andrew is a well seasoned and traveled freelance reporter and editor, covering the the nexus where new energy technology, markets, ecosystems and political economy intersect and overlap.

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