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Electricity grids get even smarter

​Research conducted under two EU projects has given rise to a new distributed energy management platform capable of coordinating the energy consumption of households at the scale of an entire neighborhood.

Published on 8 November 2018

​The objective of the EU FUSE-IT and MAS2TERING projects is to develop technologies to support the transition from centralized to distributed energy management. List, a CEA Tech institute, contributed to these projects with “agents” (autonomous software entities) that are installed in each household. However, the major innovation is not the agents themselves, but rather getting them to communicate and coordinate for more efficient energy usage both by individual households and for the neighborhood as a whole.

Here is how it works: The agents negotiate which source of energy should be used and when, factoring in occupant comfort, flexibility, and other user needs. Distributed decision-making also offers the advantage of protecting personal data, as two agents can arrive at an agreement without exchanging any sensitive information. This is particularly important in light of the new European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which has already come into force in France and other countries in Europe.

This distributed energy management system was tested on around a hundred households. It offers the potential for expansion to other types of energy utilities (heat). Systems in which each piece of equipment would be controlled by its own agent are also a possibility—one that is currently being explored in research conducted under four additional EU projects.

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