Coming to Terms with EMIX
Monday, November 15, 2010 at 01:50PM
Toby Considine in Microgrids and Distributed Systems, Schedules, Smart Grid, Standards, WS-Calendar

Another of the essential inter-domain standards for smart energy is being released for formal public review this week. Schedule, price & product descriptions, market interactions, and usage reporting are the standards to enable arms-length interactions between participants in smart energy. When these are stable, products that need them can come out of the labs, accelerated by common communication standards across the country. The miracle of software, silicon, and scale can begin to work its magic to balance energy supply and demand, in a world where both are more volatile than today.

EMIX, or Energy Market Information Exchange, supports market communications concerning energy. At first glance, this would appear to be a simple commodity market, with a simple product, power. Energy, however, is the most volatile commodity. Pork-bellies and wheat can be stored. Fresh produce must be used in season. Energy must be used when available, its shelf life is moments, and its cycle of seasons is completed every day. This need to coordinate precise delivery and availability times makes traditional market communications inadequate.

Energy surpluses and shortages are known in advance, at least as much as they are for other commodities. The periods are much tighter. Commodity markets price produce based upon weather during the long growing season. Secondary weather markets let investors hedge against rain during, say, soybean harvest week in Indiana. Alternative energy markets will compress the same business processes into a single day. Timing is everything in energy.

Energy use does not exist in a vacuum; it intersects with the businesses and lives that inhabit buildings and venues, and those are managed by on-line calendars. Business meetings, weddings, soccer games, and concerts are all schedules using iCalendar-based communications. WS-Calendar extends iCalendar interactions to support the needs service oriented inter-process communications.

EMIX calls the application or product definitions to schedules “Terms”. EMIX uses WS-Calendar to express schedule based information as part of product definitions. The complexity of operations schedules, and weather predictions, and market availability are reduced to schedules and prices. Whether a market is closely regulated with invariant tariffs or whether a market is dynamic and vital, the software and equipment in those markets will receive the same messages, the EMIX Terms.

Terms may be incomplete during indications of interest and tenders, may be firmed up by purchases or executing options, and may be only completed during specific calls for performance. EMIX does not pre-judge how Terms are completed, nor create market rules for their elaboration. EMIX does not dictate market rules. EMIX terms express the results of market operations and market rules, and the schedules of energy supply and demand, and the schedules that they create.

In all markets, there is more variety of appetites and needs then there are of contracts. In Real Estate, initial indications of interest may specify neighborhoods, or the number of bathrooms, or even cities with specific demographics. Over time, the deal becomes focused, the specifics become concrete, and the actual closing, even in a creative transaction, is expressed in a mundane manner.

In an analogous way, EMIX can express resource capabilities for buyers with specific needs, or for sellers seeking to find a market. The Terms of offers can be made as expressions of capabilities and requirements, applied to the schedule of how those vary over time. Other offer terms may be as specific as the final performance call.

EMIX supports more than Power markets. By describing ancillary services, it can help distributed resources find more markets in which to sell. It describes transport charges, which might enable consumers to select their energy supplier. EMIX provides the means for warrants of energy source and environmental cost to travel with the transaction. That, however, is a longer story.

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