The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)'s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and Calico Energy Services of Bellevue, Wash., announced that Calico has licensed a portfolio of advanced energy management intellectual property developed by PNNL. The technology was licensed by Battelle, which manages PNNL for the DOE.
The technology was developed in response to the critical challenges facing electric utilities today, including the need to improve reliability, reduce costs, and integrate renewable energy. It coordinates large numbers of smart grid assets, including demand response, distributed generation, and distributed energy storage, typically owned and controlled by customers, to form a virtual control system with the smooth, stable, predictable response required by utility operators.
"PNNL's technology represents a major leap forward in our nation's ability to manage grid reliability, balance the ever-expanding complexities of our electricity distribution system, integrate renewables, and engage consumers in energy savings programs," says PNNL engineer Rob Pratt, who led the team that developed the licensed technology. "We look forward to seeing utilities and consumers benefit from this technology."
PNNL's development of the technology was funded by DOE's Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
The innovative technology portfolio is based on a single, integrated smart grid model that uses an economic signal to automatically balance supply and demand at the lowest possible cost. Sophisticated algorithms enable a variety of intelligent devices within a distribution system to address electricity imbalances in real-time using automated demand response and real-time bidding that is orders of magnitude faster than human operators. These devices include generation, storage, renewable energy generation, and end-point controls such as thermostats, hot water heaters, and large load controllers.
"PNNL's patent portfolio is a breakthrough that allows an electric power system to virtually balance itself," says Jesse Berst, founder and chief analyst at SmartGridNews.com. "The traditional method uses centralized manual dispatch to coordinate supply and demand. But manual methods will never keep up with our new systems, which will have hundreds of thousands of distributed resources scattered throughout. To manage that kind of complexity, you must distribute and automate the process, as PNNL has now made possible."
"PNNL's technology will be commercialized into a module of our Energy Intelligence Suite, or EIS, and will be an excellent complement to the energy management platform we deliver to our utility customers today," says Mike Miller, president and CEO of Calico Energy Services. "EIS serves as a unified operations center that integrates disparate data, devices, software engines, and applications. It allows utilities to make informed decisions and to precisely control energy resources and grid assets. The capacity to leverage distributed automation provides a unique capability and adds substantial value to our solutions."
PNNL's technology has already proven highly effective in real-world installations. For example, it was a key part of the Pacific Northwest GridWise Demonstration Project, which PNNL led on Washington state's Olympic Peninsula from 2006 to 2007. A related version of the technology is also being used in the Battelle-led Pacific Northwest Smart Grid Demonstration Project, a large-scale demonstration project designed to help bring the nation's electric transmission system into the information age. It has shown the ability to provide a market mechanism to reward electricity consumers, while reducing energy consumption where and when it is needed using real-time demand and pricing signals.
For utility operations teams, the intelligence of PNNL's technology—particularly its ability to provide automated demand management and price bidding—will also reduce administrative complexity while providing far faster control over loads.
"At one time, the Soviet Union used a centrally planned economy, but the complexities of the modern world forced it to switch to a market-based approach," Berst says. "In the same fashion, the electric power system is still trying to get by with centralized dispatch and control. Thanks to these breakthroughs from PNNL, it can now adopt a market-based approach that is far faster and more precise."