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Why New Daedalus?

Daedalus was the mythical great architect and artificer of the classical world. Today, embedded intelligence is enabling the most profound changes in the way we create and use buildings since his day.

Building Intelligence meets the Intelligent Building. The Intelligent Building negotiates with the Intelligent Grid. How will this transform how we interact with the physical world?

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Wednesday
Jun172009

Collaborative Energy—the Smart Grid and the End Node

A significant goal of the smart grid is to encourage rapid innovation in the end nodes, that is in the commercial buildings, homes, and industrial sites that consume most of the electricity produced. Today’s North American power grid is probably the supreme engineering feat of the twentieth century; it has made possible the greatest life style ever lived. Its reliability, though, is insufficient for the digital world. Every system margin has been pushed too thin. The introduction of any significant portion of intermittent source energy, such as wind and solar, will make things much worse.

It is time to engage the end nodes in supporting system reliability. Today’s buildings have higher requirements for reliability and quality than the grid was ever designed for. Site-based generation and site based storage are part of the solution, but they could make the system even less reliable. It is time to begin the move to collaborative energy.

The Smart Grid Interim Roadmap highlights the Energy Management Service (EMS) as the sole service in the end node (Industry, Commercial Building, and Home) that communicates with the grid for purposes of load shaping and load curtailment. Over time, the load shaping signal will become primarily economic. Load curtailment, the mandatory response to critical issues on the grid, may not ever be adequately handled by economic signals. Load shaping and load curtailment comprise the function referred to by the utilities as Demand Response. The external signals to the EMS are being defined in the OASIS Energy Interoperability TC, building upon the work of OpenADR.

The EMS marshals the energy response from the building. This may range from the simple "shut off, turn on" to a nuanced response to enterprise and occupant driven priorities. While those priorities and their management are left, as they should be, to the market, we need stadata models to free the appliance, building system, and consumer electronics manufacturers to innovate. These standards go under the currently imprecise name "energy profiles".

Energy profiles will define the interaction patterns of the smaller systems. How much energy is it using? Can it respond to a price signal? How much can it respond to a price signal? How long will it take to respond? Will it use more before it uses less? The answers to these questions must be aggregated by the EMS and offered up to respond to OpenADR signals. The EMS should be able to access the meter to verify its own operations.

This model should support multiple levels, as several building systems may present one face to the EMS, or several EMS’s in a campus may present one face to the grid. The model does not include detailed operations of the EMS, nor does it define EMS user interfaces. These areas are best left to the creativity of the market.

A key function of the EMS is to support remote operations. Third parties will use the EMS to offer remote energy management services. Today, many utilities see themselves as the sole provider of these services. Increasingly, companies such as Enernoc and Constellation Energy are challenging that assumption. With proper standards, energy managers will flood the market, driving prices down. Those left standing will compete on higher level services.

There is still time to join the OASIS Energy Interoperability Technical Committee—drop me a line and I will tell you how to join.

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