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PNNL Lab Homes

Experiment: Energy Impact and Interoperability of Smart-Grid-Enabled Appliances and Electric Vehicles

Smart Grid is an initiative started by DOE and the electric power industry to make the transformation from a centralized, producer-controlled grid, to a less centralized, consumer-interactive network, one that incorporates distributed sources of power generation and end-uses that interact with the grid to help manage load. This initiative is at the forefront of the large-scale changes impacting the way power is produced and distributed in the United States.

Over the next 15 years, 15% of electricity is expected to be produced by intermittent renewable power sources rather than the more predictable large-scale power production plants. Generation will also move from a centralized model to a more distributed, two-way model.

Hundreds of millions of new smart meters and sensors will be installed to track the generation and use of energy. Many of these will be high-speed sensors gathering measurements at 30 samples per second or higher, generating significantly more data than available today. This results in stochastic behaviors and dynamics the grid has never seen nor been designed for.

PNNL is supporting this transformation to a Smart Grid through the development and testing of software that can manage the interactions between distributed generation sources, utilities, and end users. One example of PNNL’s efforts is its development of VOLTTRON, a platform for deploying intelligent agents, which are adaptive programs that mine and manage data coming from multiple sources. VOLTTRON is a software framework that adds intelligence to networked sensors in the electric power system. This creates the information channels to enable two-way power flows, to speed up the integration of distributed generation in the power system, and to allow for decentralized control to support micro-grids.

VOLLTRON supports decentralized cooperative decision making, allowing customers, building owners, utilities, and other users to realize better energy efficiency and reliability.

The Lab Homes are being used to test VOLTTRON’s ability to coordinate electric vehicle charging (three charge stations), grid-smart appliances, and (heat pump) water heaters. This is accomplished by controlling the electricity consumption of connected equipment by enabling the equipment to respond to pricing and load signals from the grid, including the transactive incentive signal from the Pacific Northwest Smart Grid Demonstration Project, or a utility-set maximum power consumption limit.

To date, proposed experiments to be performed at the PNNL Lab Homes using the VOLTTRON platform include:

  • Electric Vehicle Charging
  • EV Charging with load balancing
  • HVAC+Electric Water Heater with load balancing
  • Coordinated Energy Management for HVAC+Electric Water Heater+EV Charging.

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