September 18, 2017

VOLTTRON™ User Community Expands Overseas

Researchers at PNNL collaborate with South Korea-based institute to pursue energy-efficient neighborhood

More than 5,000 miles away, across the Pacific Ocean, an institute in South Korea is working towards implementing PNNL’s original vision when they created VOLTTRON™(Offsite link).

VOLTTRON™, an innovative software platform for distributed control and sensing, was first developed at PNNL in 2012 as part of the Future Power Grid Initiative(Offsite link). The original development team envisioned an open-source product that would manage energy at the building, building cluster, and community level. Five years later, VOLTTRON™ is indeed an open-source product that benefits from an expanding user base, and it is now closer than ever to achieving its original goal.

Representatives from KIER visited PNNL where they had several hands-on sessions to learn more about deploying VOLTTRON

At PNNL, researchers are successfully managing energy for a cluster of 12 buildings via VOLTTRON™ and through the Clean Energy and Transactive Campus(Offsite link) (CETC) project. As PNNL looks to advance to the community level, the Korea Institute of Energy Research(Offsite link) (KIER) looks to do the same in South Korea.

Two Partners; Two Ts

KIER’s role in South Korea is very similar to PNNL’s role in the United States, though on a smaller scale. The institute is headquartered in Daejeon, with research sites on Jeju Island—where they have a microgrid—and a few other locations. KIER has a testbed for energy management, similar to PNNL’s, that currently resides in a laboratory and office in their Green Building. KIER researchers want to expand this capability, beginning with an entire building and eventually managing energy for a community.“At KIER, we want to establish a zonal energy management system, where a network of sensors feed zones, which feed buildings, which feed into the community,” said Dr. Eugene Song, a senior researcher at KIER. “We can do this with VOLTTRON™.”

Recognizing that VOLTTRON™ is key to their success, KIER reached out to PNNL. Representatives from KIER and their university partners visited the Richland campus from July 31 to August 4. Several hands-on sessions expedited KIER’s familiarity with VOLTTRON™ code and the ability to apply the technology. KIER got to watch PNNL in action, and will apply what they learned to create a simulated South Korean neighborhood.

Continued development of VOLTTRON™ is funded by DOE’s Building Technologies Office(Offsite link). Work by PNNL for KIER is funded through a subcontract with KIER.

Key Capabilities


About PNNL

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory draws on its distinguishing strengths in chemistry, Earth sciences, biology and data science to advance scientific knowledge and address challenges in sustainable energy and national security. Founded in 1965, PNNL is operated by Battelle for the Department of Energy’s Office of Science, which is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States. DOE’s Office of Science is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, visit For more information on PNNL, visit PNNL's News Center. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram.

Published: September 18, 2017

PNNL Research Team

Jereme Haack, Robert Lutes, Craig Allwardt, and Kyle Monson