Integrating Active, Flexible and Responsive Tertiary Prosumers into a Smart Distribution Grid
(duration: october 2012 – december 2015 /// funding: FP7 ICT Call 8 – Smart Energy Grids)
The energy market suffers from structural inertia. In theory, energy prices should follow a standard supply-and-demand-mechanism. In practice, however, the market is not able to adapt to the rapid changes in supply and demand of energy.
On the one hand, energy supply rates fluctuate very quickly. Renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar power, are especially unpredictable.
On the other hand, demand of energy is quite uncontrollable. Imagine the spike in demand when all across the country people come home to charge their electric cars. The energy grid must be prepared for such spikes, because at this moment, the market has no way too influence and soften these peaks.
The current energy grid is still based on a centralized and inflexible management of supply and demand of energy. But the modern energy market is becoming much more dynamic. The current grid is not prepared for a distributed energy market, in which individual households cause energy supply peaks by generating their own solar power on a sunny day.
The INERTIA project proposes an Internet-of-Things-approach to the problem of energy management:
Consumers gradually become 'prosumers'; households that generate their own green energy, sell the energy when they have too much to use by themselves, and buy extra (grey) power when they need it.
All these 'prosumer hubs' become active nodes (rather than passive elements), and are equipped with the technology to provide contextual information to the grid. In order to be able to 'share' energy, the different stakeholders must share information on supply and demand.
Having such an information network in place, a truly free energy market emerges. Energy will be more realistically priced, based on actual supply and demand.
This way, prosumers can also be encouraged to avoid peak times. Such demand response can be manual (e.g. telling people that it's cheapest to run the laundry machine between 02:30 and 05:00 in the morning) or automatic (e.g. smart fridges that only cool during the cheapest intervals).
INERTIA chooses a holistic approach to the energy distribution problem. The project not only includes energy production and distribution companies in its solutions, but also energy users - both industrial (factories, smart office buildings) and private (households, user communities).
On top of the current energy grid, INERTIA will develop an overlay framework for coordination and grid control.
A multi-agent network of intelligent, autonomous 'prosumer hubs' will be created. These hubs are semantically enhanced: they will be able to measure, report and control the distributed electricity production.
Demand Response Service Providers will manage negotiations between different stakeholders. In order for the demand and supply to be valued properly, prosumer profiles are created, based on both historic data and realtime feedback.
The INERTIA project will make use of Almende's Common Hybrid Agent Platform (CHAP) to create simulation and management tools for the complex adaptive system that is the energy grid.
Specifically, Almende's expertise in multi-agent technology will be used to create a distributed energy management network, and to simulate and control the fluctuations in supply and demand.