USB could change the future of energy distribution

We use USB cables and devices daily to transfer information, charge our electronic devices, and, in some cases, connect devices to our cars. However, according to the Economist (and reported by Think Progress), we could see USB in the form of USB Power Deliver (USB PD).

Currently USB cables support only 10 watts of direct current (DC), just enough to charge the current iteration of iPads, but USB PD will permit up to 100 watts.

The Economist argues that this could “presage a much bigger shift, reviving the cause of direct current (DC) as the preferred way to power the growing number of low-voltage devices in homes and offices.”

USB co-inventor, Ajay Bhatt, who has become somewhat of a tech rock star at Intel since inventing the device to develop a universal port, said in an interview with IEEE Spectrum that USB PD, with power flowing in either direction, will allow “a power source and a computing device to negotiate power delivery mechanisms, or the voltages and the current.”

The move toward DC power is being backed up by the creation of DC-powered datacenters by companies like Facebook, JPMorgan, Sprint, and more. These datacenters report a 20 percent efficiency increase over AC-powered datacenters and used significantly less floorspace because of reduced equipment needs.

With the proliferation of solar power generation, having buildings and microgrids completely DC powered makes more sense than ever. USB PD will simply make the transition easier.

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