Is it possible to get the wind turbine to communicate with the washing machine? And is it possible to predict the energy demand of consumers? Researchers from Aarhus University will help Europe take an important step towards the intelligent electrical grid of the future.
An international research team will develop an intelligent platform that is able to monitor and control the use of electricity. The purpose is to provide electricity and utility companies with detailed information about the current electricity produc-tion and the electricity usage within a limited geographical area. In this way, it will be easier for the individual households to consume electricity when electricity production is high and prices are low.
"The goal is to develop a complete prototype of an intelligent system that is able to control the electricity consuming units in the home based on supply and demand," explains Rune Hylsberg Jacobsen, associate professor at Aarhus University.
Electricity must be consumed the moment it is produced; otherwise it is wasted. Society as a whole can therefore make large savings with an intelligent solution that adapts electricity use and consumers’ behaviour to the actual electricity production.
Wind turbines and washing machines must communicate
Researchers at Aarhus University will contribute to the project by developing software for a so-called intelligent gateway for the home that is able to control energy use on the basis of operating information from the utility companies and the individual household’s electricity requirements.
"One could say that our task is to design an infrastructure for communication between electrical devices in the home and the utility companies. We need an energy system that is much more efficient and that is able to contribute to even out the imbalance between the energy production and the energy consumption," says Rune Hylsberg Jacobsen.
No more overproduction of electricity
Denmark’s current energy system is based on demand-controlled energy production that always has the capacity to meet the most extreme user demands. This means that we often have an excess of energy that we have to waste or export to other countries at a price that might be lower than the production costs.
In the smart energy system of the future, it will be possible to create an automated control between the units on the electrical grid and thereby move the energy use to those periods where the energy is most available.
"If it is windy at night then that is when it is most appropriate to charge the electric car or use the washing machine," explains Rune Hylsberg Jacobsen.
The electrical grid of the future predicts user behaviour
Within the next couple of years, we will experience a signifi-cantly increased European demand for electricity from renew-able energy sources due to the political decision to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases. There is therefore a need for new intelligent solutions to ensure an optimal use of the existing green electricity production from sources such as wind turbines and solar cells.
One of the greatest technical challenges faced by the researchers in this context not only concerns the development of a communication platform that automatically transmits information about access to electricity to the individual households and their electrical devices. They will also need to develop a calculation system that is able to predict patterns in electricity use in limited geographical areas and return prognoses to the utility companies.
"Our goal is to make the electrical grid of the future more intelligent to keep it one step ahead of the development in consumer behaviour. So it will be able to predict when the supply of electricity will be largest, and consequently, when it will be most appropriate to charge the electric car," says Rune Hylsberg Jacobsen
The system will be pilot tested in 100-200 homes and will be adapted to ensure the highest possible level of user friendliness and impact on energy behaviour.