Standards for energy engagement and autonomous response (3b of 3)
Wednesday, October 21, 2009 at 03:06AM
Toby Considine in Energy, Microgrids and Distributed Systems, Schedules, Smart Grid, Standards, oBIX

The fourth of three planned posts on revisiting the smart grid priority action plans ran over long. The first post discussed semantic issues. The next addressed the conflict between the business models for Managed and Collaborative Energy. In this one, I discuss the architecturally significant interfaces of the smart grid, updating my earlier musing on SGIX. The third (3A) discussed the 4 key standards for coordinating energy use and supply. This one discusses standards for feedback and planning on the customer side.

SG Energy Usage

Energy use has traditionally been summed over a month and then received by the client weeks later, far too late to affect behavior. Recent high profile efforts by Google Energy and Microsoft Hohm have demonstrated the power of granting consumers access to near real time dynamic data about energy usage. Makers of building automation systems (BAS), particularly makers of heating and cooling systems, have long wanted direct access to current meter information. Two quite different standards efforts from two quite different trade associations are taking one standards for sharing energy usage information.

OpenADE

The UCA International user’s group (UCAIug) is developing OpenADE (Automated Data Exchange) to more readily share information through existing utility infrastructure. It begins with sharing day old interval data with customers and third parties, and will then strive to become more current. OpenADE leverages the standards of Managed Energy (described in my previous post). Although the long term plan is cloudy, surely the utilities are well poised to include demand response (DR) and other grid and market events with usage information.

EISA

The Energy Information Standards Alliance (EISA) is a new consortium considering energy usage from the perspective of the end node. EISA foresees much more frequent and timely information not only from the meter, but also from each intelligent system and appliance throughout the building. Each system will provide a type of energy metadata on systems that consume power. Think of the Google Energy demonstrations, think again of certain contributors to the energy profile able to report and to identify their own use.

One part of the EISA vision that appeals to me is the idea that autonomous building systems would compare energy profiles and smooth the overall load profiles; no two systems would produce energy spikes at the same time. Autonomous load shaping is important not only for the short term grid, but is also an important enabler of site-based energy, and even net zero strategies. Some members of EISA see it as a suite of standard oBIX contracts.

Standards Ancillary to Energy but useful to Smart Grids

Many of the benefits of smart grids come from improved situation awareness. The standards used within the grid itself, which I do not concern myself with, are largely to improve awareness of grid operations. Where I do concern myself, with the end nodes of the grid, those situations and that awareness reach beyond the grid itself.

UnitsML and SensorML

There are many things to be measured and sensed in industrial facilities and commercial buildings. Sensors may be part of systems or isolated. (I have some use cases that demand incorporating ancillary sensors into central energy management.) It would be good to use standards that describe the measurements unambiguously in ways that can be shared by multiple systems.

UnitsML offers an unambiguous way to describe all physical measurements, and an unambiguous ability for a computer to look up the translation of any units of measure to any other units. UnitsML is an existing OASIS technical committee with NIST backing which will need wider participation to complete.

SensorML is a standard from the Open Geospatial Consortium that can describe the geometric, dynamic, and observational characteristics of sensors and sensor systems. There are many different sensor types, from simple visual thermometers to complex electron microscopes and earth observing satellites. SensorML can describe them all.

Digital Weather Markup Language (DWML)

Knowledge of the future is important to all markets; knowledge of future weather is important to energy markets. All weather is local. Local weather awareness includes not only weather predictions, but also knowledge about the actual weather at my location following previous predictions.

DWML is an existing specification developed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). NOAA offers access to their National Digital Forecast Database (NDFD) using DWML. DWML is a little quirky, and a little hard to use. Smart energy would benefit from its further development. We need to define a DWML profile for reporting as well as forecasting, to enable the exchange of actual conditions as well as forecasts. Such a profile would be used when querying local weather stations and even personal weather systems.

WS-DD and WS-DP

Device discovery and device profiles have been used in computer networking for some time. These specifications for the web services implementation are going to a standards vote in May. A major manufacturer of electrical equipment has already announced that they will include WS-DD and WS DP for all the equipment it sells. There are open source implementations for small devices (https://forge.soa4d.org/). I think they will have a big role in the future world of distributed generation and Net Zero Energy facilities.

SG CyberSecurity

Cyber security is drawing more attention and concern every day. Today’s grid cybersecurity is concerned primarily with defending the isolated system with relatively static interactions. Tomorrow’s cybersecurity will apply to systems interacting with others owned by many different people, of uncertain skill and diligence in securing their own systems. Security issues need to be integrated within every smart grid standard from the beginning. We need a separate security toolkit/framework, perhaps a profile from current fine-grained security standards, key management, and related areas. Broader integration of physical security, fine-grained networking and commercial security, and situation awareness technologies need to be part of the mix.

Article originally appeared on New Daedalus (http://www.newdaedalus.com/).
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