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The IoT and Load Management

image credit: ID 147612080 © Monthira Yodtiwong | Dreamstime.com

How can the Internet of Things (IoT) be used to boost energy efficiency and facilitate load management? For the past three years, Cleveland, Ohio’s Case Western University has sought the answer with the help of  the U.S. Department of Energy and the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI). 

At iotworldtoday.com, where I first came across this story, Kenneth Loparo, the Arthur L. Parker professor in the school’s Department of Electrical, Computer and Systems Engineering and co-academic director, is quoted explaining his team’s project to date, saying: 

““We interfaced into a Johnson Controls building automation system that was just updated a couple of years ago to get visibility into various building systems like those that are circulating hot water, those that are circulating cold water, the fans and the [variable air volume] boxes that manage the heat and air flow within the building.”"

This allows operators to harmonize the buildings’ energy energy intake with that being produced in each units’ rooftop solar system. This not only improves energy efficiency, but also but also buttresses the distribution grid system the buildings are hooked up to. 

Loparo goes on to the importance of load forecasting: “We’ve looked at forecasting how much solar is available over 15-, 30- and 60-minute periods. “We then looked at how much energy is available in the battery, and then we coordinate the external generation from solar, the storage that we have in the battery and our ability to manipulate building loads to achieve a targeted set point for the building in terms of real and reactive power consumption.”

“And if you were the operator of the distribution utility, you are trying to look at forecasting the loads that those buildings put on the feeder, and then trying to manage the power flows within that feeder, so that voltages and frequencies and power quality are all acceptable to all of the consumers.” 

The internet of things made inroads into the utility industry some time ago now. However, as microgrids and various renewable systems become more commonplace, it seems to me that the spread of automated intelligent systems will accelerate. While the advantages of such technology is quite clear, it’s not without its downsides. The more digital components you add to a grid system, the bigger the surface area becomes for attacks and other failures.


 

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