Sometimes the power grid needs a little help meeting demand. PNNL’s Intelligent Load Control (ILC) technology is a smart tool for automatically managing electricity loads in buildings and helping the power grid meet broader energy demand.
ILC is an algorithm that’s incorporated onto the VOLTTRON™ software platform and then into a small, inexpensive computing device. This package is integrated with a building’s automation system to automatically and intelligently control devices, such as heating and cooling units, lighting systems, and electric vehicle chargers. The technology also can control resources, including electricity generation and storage systems.
By strategically turning devices on and off in sequence, ILC helps building operators meet energy use targets during peak electricity consumption periods, reduce costs, and concurrently maintain satisfactory building functionality and comfort levels. The technology is designed to work cooperatively with the power grid, responding to utility company requests to change consumption.
The technology offers three primary capabilities:
- Peak power load management
- Capacity bidding that provides incentives to buildings to reduce consumption during certain time periods
- Transactive energy methods that enable a rapid digital negotiation between buildings and the power market.
ILC has gained industry attention and will be a focal point for a major field test in 2020.
Synergy in energy
ILC is a promising component of the future transactive energy system. In this system, buildings and their devices automatically communicate, coordinate, and negotiate energy use with the power grid quickly and comprehensively. On a large scale, coordination will help balance energy supply, demand, and costs. Coordination will also provide the flexibility needed to more effectively add solar and wind resources to the energy mix.
ILC was created as part of the PNNL-led Clean Energy and Transactive Campus project, an effort supported by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and Washington State. The technology is deployed in buildings at PNNL and the University of Toledo, and it continues to receive DOE Building Technologies Office support.