New Way to Manage Energy in the Smart Grid

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Researchers at the University of Southampton have developed a mechanism which uses smart computerised agents to control energy storage devices in the home, resulting in energy savings of up to 16 per cent.

In a paper entitled Decentralised Control of Micro-Storage in the Smart Grid, which will be delivered at the Twenty-Fifth Conference on Artificial Intelligence (AAAI-11) in San Francisco on August 11, Dr. Thomas Voice describes how he and his colleagues developed a novel decentralised control mechanism to manage micro-storage in the smart grid.

The researchers developed a completely decentralised mechanism which uses agent-based techniques to allow energy suppliers to manage the demand from their consumers, which, in turn, allows them to reduce their wholesale purchasing costs, yielding savings of up to 16 per cent in energy cost for consumers using devices with an average capacity of 10 kWh.

The researchers’ approach involves using a real-time pricing scheme that is broadcast to consumers in advance of each daily period. Computerised agents then buy, sell, and store energy on behalf of the home-owners in order to minimise their net electricity costs. By adjusting the pricing scheme to match the conditions on the wholesale market, the supplier is able to ensure that, as a whole, consumer agents converge to a stable and efficient equilibrium where costs and carbon emissions are minimised.

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