September 2020
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Energy On The Edge

The Energy Mashup Lab is unveiling its first full release

tobyToby Considine
TC9, Inc

The New Daedalus

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Smart Energy is a way of dealing with electrical power that will be, by every measure, poorer than today. We can look to California to see what this means. The cost of power is growing even as planned rolling outages affect every customer. Distributed energy resources make it more complex to solve power distribution to provide quality power. Electric vehicles will continue to put growing strains not only on the power supply, but on the power infrastructure. Smart energy is how your facility will defend itself from these problems, working from the edge.

Traditional utilities have long struggled to operate homes as adjuncts to and partners of the grid. The customer of a typical residential demand response program, powering off air conditioning during moments when the grid is short on power, tends to cancel participation as soon as it happens once.

Other have tried to work through the great social media companies, offering complete control of the house. Privacy has long been a problem for these systems. This year, people have had their web hosting and social accounts suspended for having the wrong opinions. Others have been cut off from the banking and credit systems in response to small groups of fervent “cancellers”. Predictably, many consumers are even less willing to expose the daily activities in their homes and businesses for public judgement. Even the Mayors have had power to homes turned off for political reasons. The impulse to avoid central operation and control has never been greater.

Transactive Energy (TE) has the potential to make our electrical system more efficient, by better matching supply and demand in real time, having IoT devices use energy when it is cheapest, and reducing reliance on large, distant suppliers while maximizing use of local power sources. TE relies on markets and consumer choice to make better decisions about power supply and use. Because all power distribution is ultimately local, TE markets must be based on local information. For the privacy minded, the only information that is exposed is the net power use over time.

The Energy Mashup Lab is unveiling its first full release of EML-CTS (https://github.com/EnergyMashupLab/eml-cts). EML-CTS is an open source system for transactive energy, designed for incorporation into systems and equipment. EML consists of TE User Agents who can bid into TE markets, and a TE market itself. No building or system shares any information beyond its interest in selling or buying power over time. EML-CTS incorporates a NASDAQ-style market trading engine that has already demonstrated its scalability and security through use in financial and equities markets.

The development of EML-CTS was funded in part by NIST to support modeling TE markets in their cyberphysical testing framework

EML-CTS is designed for fractal integration, that is, it implements the same pattern at different scale. While a building may seem to be a natural fit as a market participant in a neighborhood transactive microgrid, the systems inside a building may be nodes in the microgrid that operates inside the building. In a similar way, neighborhoods and industrial parks can participate as nodes in a microgrid that covers a city, or part of one.

The Facility Smart Grid Information Model (FSGIM) describes energy use and energy schedule for a single building. FSGIM has advanced to an ASHRAE standard and may soon be part of ISO 17800. FSGIM defines the information that a building would need of all its component systems makes possible interactions between buildings and power grids that preserve privacy.

TE Markets preserve privacy by eliminating the need to expose and share detailed internal process and controls. Energy reductions through smart buildings have foundered on lack of clarity as to how to make optimal power (and process) scheduling decisions. Such decisions must be made within a context of occupants’ safety, health, comfort, and satisfaction. Ideally, they would preserve privacy by never exposing information in the first place. TE is a systems model that does this.

EML-CTS uses a financial or “order book” market. The bulk power markets traditionally use periodic double auctions instead. Such auctions by design leave many participants “out of the money”, an outcome clearly undesirable for retail (and local) consumer power markets. CTS-EML offers continuous opportunity for participants to adjust their positions over time. Such markets are better able to respond to changing supplies, conditions, and consumer motives while generating more emergent solutions to power allocation.

The future direction of the EML-CTS System is too incorporate more techniques and protocols from the financial trading world. Over the next year, EML-CTS will incorporate software, cybersecurity, and system guidelines developed originally by the FIX Trading Community. FIX protocols are in extensive use in the financial world.

FIX transport protocols support zero trust trading and are also available in unencumbered Apache-2 licensed FOSS. Devices as small as Raspberry PIs are today taking part in equity markets as autonomous actors in zero trust environments. Adapting these for easy use by traditional Building Management Systems preserves the proprietary value of that software without turning over all the keys to someone else.

Markets work best when market actors have knowledge of the market activities of the other actors. Drawing upon technology and techniques from financial markets, we show how local actors can use improved market awareness. Traditional power markets double actions to prevent the need for building and other low-level systems from needing market awareness. Equities markets use digital ticker tapes and other techniques to support machine trading.

Because this market awareness needs to extend only so far as the micromarket operating the microgrid, actor information is not shared the larger microgrid. Borrowing further from financial markets, AI-based techniques used to alert the market operator to disruptive activity can be adapted to local TE markets.

This Fall, The Lab will contribute the APIs of EML-CTS will be contributed to OASIS standardization as a profile of Energy Interoperation. OpenADR 2.0 is a well-known profile of the Energy Interoperation specification. The goal is a standard interface between systems and TE markets, no matter the market rules and methods used by different TE systems.  NIST will participate in this effort. Write me if you would like information on participating.

The FIX algorithmic trading definition language (FIXadtl) describes a model for market strategies and gathering market awareness. FIXadtl can be the gateway between building and control system operation (private) and energy trading (public). FIXadtl could provide a bridge between owner and occupant intent and markets. I hope to be working toward simplifying market interaction with FOSS interfaces along with technical notes on how to profile FIXatdl and other protocols in buildings and power storage systems (batteries).

FIX transport protocols support zero trust trading and are also available in unencumbered Apache-2 licensed FOSS. Devices as small as Raspberry PIs are today taking part in equity markets as autonomous actors in zero trust environments. Adapting these for easy use by the software that operates buildings and storage systems preserves the value of the software represented on this thread without turning over all the keys to someone else.

The Energy Mashup Lab needs more participation, particularly If you are interested in funding this work. All standards are unencumbered, and the code is available under the Apache 2.0 license. Write to director@theenergymashuplab.org for more information.





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