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AC/DC: In the New Current Wars, Will Edison Win Out After All?

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In the late 1800s, as the United States embarked on a public effort to electrify the country, the “War of Currents” pitted Alternating Current (AC) power against Direct Current (DC) power. On one side was Thomas Edison, an advocate of DC power. On the other side was George Westinghouse, who had acquired the patents for AC power held by Nikola Tesla. In the end, the capability of AC power to run at high voltage from large central generating stations over long distances with relatively inexpensive transformers to “step down” and “step up” the voltage made AC the victor, setting the industry standard. As the electric power sector modernises, however, two substantial changes could signal a return to the war of currents.

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