UK researchers explore new way to manage energy in the smart grid

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Researchers in the UK have developed a process that uses smart computerised agents to control home energy storage devices, which they claim results in energy savings of up to 16%.

The University of Southampton team, led by Dr Thomas Voice, developed a completely decentralised mechanism which uses agent based techniques to allow energy suppliers to manage the demand from their customers, which they believe will allow them to reduce their wholesale purchasing costs, yielding savings of up to 16% in energy cost for consumers using devices with an average capacity of 10kWh. 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. "We see this as an important step in showing that the adoption of widespread, supplier managed home energy micro storage is a practical, desirable technology to develop for the benefit of both suppliers and consumers," said Dr Voice. "We can envisage energy suppliers providing new tariffs that will incentivise consumers to buy affordable small scale storage devices. In turn this will allow suppliers to manage aggregate load profiles, improve efficiency and reduce carbon output."