Computer scientists at the University of Southampton in the U.K. have developed a system of computerized agents that can manage energy use and storage in homes.
Having already developed agents that can trade on the stock market and manage crisis communications, a team of researchers, led by Alex Rogers and Nick Jennings at the University of Southampton's School of Electronics and Computer Science, have now developed an agent-based micro-storage management technique that allows homes to adapt their energy use to match market conditions.
The ultimate aim of this system is to optimize individual electricity usage and storage, in order to improve efficiency of the electricity grid and to reduce emissions.
The system, developed by Krishnen Vytelingum, Thomas Voice, and Sarvapali Ramchurn, is outlined in the paper Agent-based Micro-Storage Management for the Smart Grid, which has been nominated for the Best Paper Award at the International Conference on Autonomous Agents and Multiagent Systems (AAMAS 2010), which will take place May 10-14 in Toronto, Canada.
According to Rogers, who earlier this year launched an iPhone application, named GridCarbon, to measure the carbon intensity of the U.K. grid, this system will make it possible to install smart software into electricity meters. This will mean that the agents will be able to optimize the usage and storage profile of the dwelling and learn the best storage profile given market prices at any particular time.
“This approach focuses on the system dynamics where all agents in the system are given the freedom to buy electricity whenever they see fit and, building on this, they can then learn the best storage profile in a marketplace where prices keep changing,” said Rogers. “Another advantage is that if most homes in the system start using storage and manage to reduce peak demand, the overall cost of generating electricity is reduced.”