I – Smart buildings as a flexibility source to support power grids

The energy transition implies a change in the way we operate the electrical system. The increasing connection of distributed renewable energy sources requires the electricity grid to manage unpredictable and non-dispatchable sources of energy. Furthermore, the electrification of fields such as transport and heating places increased stress on the electrical grid. As a result, balancing fluctuating production with a more complex demand profile becomes challenging. This requires additional flexibility regarding how electricity is produced and consumed which, on the demand-side, translates to the ability of the energy consumers (such as smart buildings) to reduce or increase the consumption of electricity upon request.

II – Designing a solution for the flexible production and consumption of electricity

  • European projects as an R&I vector

The European Commission supports research and innovation in flexibility through the Horizon 2020 programme. The Interconnect project, funded by the Horizon 2020 programme, aims to connect interoperable smart homes, buildings and grids. It gathers 50 European industrial and academic partners from 11 countries who develop and demonstrate advanced solutions for connecting digital homes and buildings with the electricity sector. These solutions are demonstrated through seven pilot sites located throughout Europe.

  • Use cases of Interconnect as a design vector

The pilot functionalities of Interconnect are described using use cases. A use case is a specification of a set of actions performed by a system, which yields an observable result. Each use case identifies the participating actors that play a role within it. Use cases are described according to their level of technological abstraction and granularity, either as a high-level use case (HLUC) or primary use case (PUC).

A HLUC describes a general requirement, idea or concept independently from a specific technical realisation, such as an architectural solution. A PUC describes in detail the technical functionality of a specific part of an HLUC.

Trialog led the specification of Interconnect use cases by providing methodology and support to all the project’s partners regarding harmonisation of the specification of their use cases according to the IEC 62559 standard. A final report detailing the specification process and the use cases of the seven pilots was released. This report also highlights the similarities among the Interconnect pilots and, notably, maps several popular objectives to their technical implementation in the pilots:

Figure 1: Mapping of the objectives of the use cases and technical solutions implemented

As an example, to achieve consumer engagement, the Greek pilot implements energy management system operations, user interfaces for system control and real-time monitoring as technical solutions. This is performed to provide consumers with the ability to monitor the CO2 emissions derived from their energy consumption and, consequently, turn their residence into an energy-efficient smart home.

Moreover, Trialog is involved in the Interconnect French pilot, which is based in Toulon. Trialog provides a flexibility management solution for the charging of electric vehicles. This solution, named the Trialog EV Management System (T-EMS), manages the electric vehicle charging process and accounts for the user preferences, local production of renewable energy and state of the grid to mitigate the impact of the electric vehicles on the electricity grid.

Figure 2: Overview of the T-EMS architecture

  • A reference architecture as an interoperable solution

To implement these use cases, a common interoperable architecture was defined, using the best from the IoT, smart grid and smart building state-of-the-art. Based on SAREF, the reference ontology for smart appliances, this architecture links the system actors through an interoperability layer via ontology reasoning and discovering mechanisms to provide the relevant services.

Figure 3: Common Interconnect IoT architecture (Source : D2.1 Secure interoperable IoT smart home/building
and smart energy system reference

This reference architecture is based on the specific architecture of all the pilots. In the French pilot, a SAREF-compatible interface between the T-EMS and the interoperability layer is implemented to make its flexibility offers SAREF-compatible. Thus, the T-EMS can act as a digital platform for the electric vehicle charging station and offer flexibility as a service to interested parties.

  • Opportunities for standardisation

Trialog is involved in the standardisation of methods developed during the Horizon 2020 project, as part of the BRIDGE initiative, which gathers 60+ EU-funded smart grid projects and 700+ organisations from 38 countries. The task involves defining a generic architecture model that is suitable for smart grids and beyond, with consideration of the communication infrastructure, cybersecurity, data privacy and data exchange. It is crucial to identify which part of the architecture, and which protocols and roles are useful to each type of use case to build a foundation for future projects.

Trialog is also involved in the SmartBuilt4EU community, which aims to foster collaboration between stakeholders of the smart building value chain and promote their innovations. Trialog is co-chair of Task Force 3, which aims to produce a white paper on “The grid-integrated, consumer-engaging building” that will identify research and innovation gaps in R&D and industrial projects.

III – The contribution of Trialog to smart grid and smart building use cases

In recent decades, Trialog has been involved in industrial smart building/smart grid projects and R&D European projects such as Interconnect and has obtained experience regarding emerging standards and methods. Innovative technologies, such as SAREF or OCPP2.0, are studied during these projects and experimented with through implementation. This leads to the design of new solutions, such as the T-EMS, which boost the readiness level of electric vehicle charging technologies and flexibility management. Furthermore, when these technologies mature, Trialog supports the industry players to integrate them into their businesses and products and gain time-to-market.

Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you would like to learn more about the current innovative technologies for smart grids, smart buildings and e-mobility, and step-up on these topics. Trialog provides training, expertise, tools and ad-hoc solutions to support the development and rollout of these technologies.

Hadrien Lafforgue
Hadrien Lafforgue
Dune Sebilleau
Dune Sebilleau
Frédéric Mesureur
Frédéric Mesureur