January 2010

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 Core Market Communications for Smart Energy

Our energy supplies are becoming based upon portfolios of distributed resources, and we must rely on distributed ownership and operation of those resources.

  Toby Considine  TC9 Inc
The New Daedalus

Contributing Editor

The common market interfaces for energy are nearly here. OpenADR (Automated Demand Response) is growing up into general purpose messages that communicate abundance as well as scarcity. Principles of recursion and recombination are set to enable a rapid flowering of technologies and approaches. Service principles including process hiding are transforming energy use to allow faster introduction of new technologies.

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The nuclear guys from the 60’s got it right. For decades, we have had energy too cheap to meter. In competitive mature markets, prices tend toward incremental cost. In energy today, allocating the sunk costs of capital drives prices. Distributed energy resources, whether for load shifting, shaping, use, or abstinence, will break this model. Distributed energy will tend toward incremental costs. Feasting during periods of energy surplus will be as important as fasting during periods of energy shortage.

The core market messages for energy are now here. Messages to communicate energy products, prices and use are ready for early adopters. These messages are not tied to particular market models; they work as well for retail as they do for wholesale. They work for aggregators and they work within microgrids.

Many readers of Automated Buildings are already involved in OpenADR projects. OpenADR, developed by Lawrence Berkeley Labs for the California energy markets, addresses the infrequent peak shaving needs of Demand Response (DR). The OASIS Energy Interoperation specification builds upon and extends OpenADR to define general market interactions for commodities whose value may change second by second. OpenADR 2.0, the successor standard to OpenADR, is a strict profile of Energy Interoperation. These pilot projects should be looking already to Energy Interoperation.

Aligning schedules and sequences is the first challenge for volatile energy markets. Distributed Energy markets rely on exchanging time-related information from many different domains, many out of the control of the engineer. Time defines the DR incident. Wholesale energy generation markets rely on accurate schedule projections of complex energy curves. Solar and Wind based generation enter markets with projected production schedules. Solar and Wind based generation develop schedules based upon weather projections. Weather projections must communicate time and schedules. Enterprise activities, i.e., business processes, modulate energy use in buildings and industry. Buildings and industries that understand the schedules of their energy use can more effectively play in volatile markets. WS-Calendar specifies the communication of schedule and sequence, not just for smart rids, but for local generation and use, for business activities, for building operations, and for weather reports. I am seeing WS-Calendar used not only for each of those areas to communicate with smart grids, but with each other, and within each area for internal communications.

No matter how complex the tariff, no matter how much politics is injected into market design, sooner or later, energy provision comes down to systems with physical characteristics. These systems have response times, lag times, ramp curves, and load shapes. They respond reliably or pay penalties. They can provide power, or manage VAR, or maintain voltage. Our energy supplies are becoming based upon portfolios of distributed resources, and we must rely on distributed ownership and operation of those resources. For efficient allocation and rapid deployment, these resources must be able to offer themselves to the market, with concise descriptions of product and price.

As we move from hub-and-spoke to dispersed networks (more like a rete) of energy sources and uses, dynamic allocation of distribution capabilities becomes critical. Bottlenecks will occur at every stage of distribution. Consider the cul-de-sac with adequate power until three neighbors each get a Tesla. There will be value in allocating capacity even within that single pole transformer. Congestion pricing is no longer just for big transmission lines.

Reliable Controls The OASIS Energy Market Information Exchange (EMIX) specification defines the communication of the capabilities, response times, capacities, of energy resources, whether it is a firm transaction or merely a pre-market indication of interest. EMIX describes and prices congestion rights and distribution losses. Because every energy transaction is time-sensitive, EMIX uses WS-Calendar to describe these products and interactions. When you bring a new technology to market, EMIX defines how you describe your product, to find willing buyers for the service your technology provides.

All markets need a cash register, a way to know what was bought. The North American Energy Standards Board (NAESB) has developed a model for energy usage information. If EMIX is an offering in the future tense, the energy usage model delivers the same information in the past tense. EMIX and WS-Calendar communications are fully compatible with the NAESB Energy Usage Information model. In the future, this information model will be available in compatible forms from your local meter as well as from your energy supplier.

Energy Interoperation and the new OpenADR incorporate each of these specifications. There are numerous commercial products and even open source projects underway to use these specifications. Each of them is ready for use internally, in the local microgrid, or for communicating with an energy services provider. Each of them is already usable for local decision making or for cloud-based services. Those who watch too long, will find themselves playing catch-up, or ceding control to a partner to get access to markets.

The core market communications for smart energy are ready. How will you use them?


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