and the power grid
and the power grid
With approximately 125 million homes and more than 5 million commercial buildings, the “built environment” consumes nearly 75 percent of our nation's electricity. Continuing advances in efficient and smart technologies—as well as onsite renewable energy—are changing the way power is used in homes, offices, and industries across the country. Buildings will soon be able to charge electric vehicles, generate their own power, and store energy. The challenge is collectively controlling these resources, optimizing them, and integrating them on the power grid as an energy asset.
Control and coordination
PNNL makes building-grid integration possible through new approaches and technologies in a range of key disciplines—advanced control theory, optimization, energy analysis, and interoperability. A successful example that ties all these together is VOLTTRON™, a distributed control and sensing software platform. Developed by PNNL, this flexible and scalable software platform gathers and dispositions data in an economical and secure environment to improve operations or processes. Intelligent Load Control is another example. Integrated with the building’s automation system, it controls and coordinates operation of devices that provide heating and cooling, hot water, lighting, and more. The devices turn on and off in sequences that manage electricity consumption to a desired level—without having an impact on building safety and comfort.
Compatible with today’s utilities, PNNL’s Intelligent Load Control methodology provides maximum benefits to building owners and occupants. PNNL uses this methodology on its own campus, in addition to VOLTTRON, to intelligently control and coordinate dozens of facilities as part of a “living laboratory.”
PNNL developed a methodology known as transactive energy. Transactive energy combines economics with consumers’ preferences and lifestyle choices. These factors work together via smart devices that communicate with the energy market to make purchasing decisions on behalf of the consumer. They can set conditions for paying higher energy costs during times of peak power demand, or delay energy use to pay less and alleviate strain on the power grid.
Since the late 1990s, PNNL’s experience in smart grid research has provided insight into both the economic and engineering needs of the nation's electricity infrastructure. PNNL laid the groundwork for a choice-oriented energy model that provides information for both consumers and distributors. Leadership in projects such as the Olympic Peninsula GridWise project, AEP gridSMART project, and the Pacific Northwest Smart Grid project resulted in key information about smart grid design and its impact on energy use and efficiency at varying scales.
Researchers at PNNL support a vision where sensors, control systems, and other technologies work together to manage energy use. Through transactive energy and control, grid and building cybersecurity, and energy storage, researchers at PNNL are making that vision a reality.