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New approach to energy management in microgrids


From pv magazine Australia

Energy consumers are effectively lowering their power costs as electricity grids continue to evolve amid rising adoption of renewable distributed energy resources (DERs), including rooftop PV, battery storage, and electric vehicles. But in order to maximize the individual value of these assets, DER owners should be enabled to participate in different markets for grid support services, backed by energy management software for load flexibility.

In a new paper recently published in Energies, Monash University researchers argue that the implementation of a transactive energy market (TEM) framework could help consumers to lower their power costs by reducing peak demand.  A TEM could also help consumers access revenues from the provision of network services for the main grid, such as frequency and voltage management.

TEM, a novel approach for energy management and trading, provides a market-based solution to allow demand and supply to actively negotiate the exchange of energy. The proper implementation of TEM for microgrid energy management needs a framework that embraces a range of different design requirements. For instance, in preparation for the deployment of a smart microgrid platform, an enabling Internet of Things (IoT) hardware installation has to be performed on all DERs in the microgrid. To demonstrate this, the researchers have used the Monash Microgrid as a real-world implementation of TEM.

The university's microgrid – including 20 buildings, 1 MW of solar, 1 MWh of storage, and two EV chargers – is designed to be a fully functioning local electricity network and trading market, with dynamic resource optimization interacting with an external energy market. The project, which is backed by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), was delivered in partnership with tech company Indra.

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With the TEM framework, the complete hardware and software foundation of the Monash Microgrid is presented as a platform to deploy a market-based solution for microgrid energy management. This makes it possible for the microgrid to receive and store energy from various renewable energy sources, while also controlling when and how energy is used in response to internal and external market signals.

The researchers claim such a TEM framework could be used in microgrids to facilitate the integration of DERs in existing networks. “The key feature in transactive energy is using market-based, or dynamic pricing-based, solutions for energy management. Hence, an appropriate TEM framework which outlines the design, implementation, and deployment of transactive energy solutions for energy management in microgrids is one potential core ingredient for enabling a decentralized energy system,” said Ariel Liebman, co-director of the Monash Grid Innovation Hub and an associate professor in the Department of Data Science and AI, Faculty of IT.

A growing number of emerging decentralized business models, including smart grids, virtual power plants (VPPs), and microgrids are trying to capture and provide new value streams to customers, other stakeholders, and the entire grid. However, to unlock this potential on a large scale, regulations need to catch up.

“From a grid perspective, the coordinated and controlled use of DERs provides substantial benefits for the stability of the broader network,” said Dr. Reza Razzaghi, a lecturer in the university's Faculty of Engineering. “The increase in the local value results from the potential participation of DERs in different markets also provides flexibility to prevent or relieve localized network performance issues.”

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  1. It is interesting to see how the renewable energy market is increasingly heading towards a bi-uniqueness between customers and grids through the use and intelligent control of VPPs.
    Many companies are already investing in the construction of support infrastructures and many others are equipping themselves with APIs and/or specific technologies to be able to provide data to those who will set up and manage these virtual control units.
    The future is now being channeled in this direction, for sure.

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