Artificial intelligence to control the power grid in Riedholz
February 23, 2016
Together with the Canton of Solothurn, the four companies Adaptricity, AEK, Alpiq, and Landis+Gyr are investigating how the energy flow in a power distribution grid can be optimised and controlled through artificial intelligence in the town of Riedholz. The findings will minimise investments in costly grid expansion and decrease electricity costs. The SoloGrid project is being promoted by the Swiss Federal Office of Energy as a lighthouse project, and supported financially by the Canton of Solothurn.
Power distribution grid operators are confronted with great challenges because the number of decentralised energy generation systems, such as photovoltaic, has grown strongly through the subsidisation of new renewable energies. The trend toward renewable energies will continue, and in the long term increasingly lead to fluctuations and irregular peak loads in the power grid. In order to ensure future grid stability and minimise investments in costly grid expansion, the four companies Adaptricity, AEK, Alpiq and Landis+Gyr, together with the Canton of Solothurn, are relying on artificial intelligence in the pilot project SoloGrid. The GridSense technology is being used in approximately 40 single-family homes and apartments in the town of Riedholz near Solothurn. The test phase lasting 18 months will investigate how GridSense controls the primary electricity consumers such as heat pumps, boilers, household batteries, and charging stations for electric vehicles, and how it integrates measurement data from photovoltaic systems for optimal grid operation. GridSense ensures that the power grid is always operating at optimal load and optimises also the energy consumption of customers. Ideally, the electricity generated by the photovoltaic system in the home or within the neighbourhood grid is consumed.
GridSense learns user behaviour with artificial intelligence
Alpiq developed the GridSense technology together with the Scuola universitaria professionale della Svizzera italiana (SUPSI). The core of the technology consists of several algorithms. They continuously measure parameters such as grid load, electricity consumption and generation, including weather forecasts as well as electricity prices. They learn the behaviour of electricity consumers through artificial intelligence. Using this information, GridSense optimises the utilisation of power consumers and generators. The technology reduces peak loads in the power grid, balances the loads and stabilises the distribution grid. With GridSense, Alpiq is strengthening its position as an energy services provider and contributing to higher energy efficiency. The Swiss Federal Office of Energy awarded the technology with the Watt d’Or energy prize in January 2015 and included the SoloGrid project in the SFOE lighthouse programme.
Challenges for the distribution grid operators
With the SoloGrid project the four participating companies and the Canton of Solothurn are investigating to what extent autonomous, decentralised power distribution grid balancing is possible. The findings are particularly important for AEK Energie AG. AEK hopes the SoloGrid project will provide important information for future grid operation and grid planning.
In addition to the GridSense technology, the companies are using a second innovation, DPG.sim software, in the project. The software was developed by Adaptricity, a Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH Zurich) spin-off. The new software simulates decentralised dynamics in the power distribution grid. The simulation is necessary because it is nearly impossible to display all the different grid situations that occur in reality. DPG.sim simulates all the required grid scenarios for the analysis and precisely supplements these with measurements from the pilot grid in the town of Riedholz.
The electricity future calls for intelligent technologies
Landis+Gyr is making important findings from various smart metering projects in Switzerland and abroad available to the SoloGrid project. The meters supplied to Riedholz are used as measurement instruments for numerous parameters, such as grid state, which provide the basis to prepare important data for GridSense. With this new technology, Landis+Gyr is supporting the success of the project and making a valuable contribution to future electricity supply.
More information: www.sologrid.ch
Alpiq InTec AG
T +41 44 247 41 79
AEK Energie AG
T +41 32 624 84 60
T +41 44 515 9246
Landis + Gyr
+41 41 935 64 39
AEK Energie AG
AEK Energie AG with headquarters in Solothurn is the leading energy supplier in the region of the southern Jura Mountains with approximately 40,000 end customers. In addition to supplying electricity and grids, the company also offers individual energy consulting, electrical installations/telecommunications and safety tests. Throughout Switzerland, AEK is the leading contracting supplier for pellet and wood chip systems. Its subsidiary AEK Pellet AG in Balsthal is the largest Swiss pellet producer and the Swiss market leader. AEK is a partner and service provider for private customers, industry, trade, towns and the public sector. In 2014, AEK generated sales of CHF 143.3 million and an annual profit of CHF 11.7 million with 233 employees.
Adaptricity is a spin-off company of the ETH Zurich Power Systems Laboratory. The company develops simulation and optimisation software for distribution grid operators in order to support them in meeting the challenges placed on their electrical distribution grids owing to the energy turnaround. The focus is on innovative smart grid features such as dispersed energy storage systems, load management and other active grid operating resources. These are the key to the stable operation of distribution grids with a high proportion of renewable energies. Adaptricity helps distribution grid operators evaluate various smart grid expansion alternatives before investing in costly grid infrastructure. This enables operators to optimally plan the transition from their existing power grids to the intelligent power grids of the future.
The DPG.sim simulation software enables time-series-based grid simulation, and as a result, analyses with a focus on so-called smart grid elements such as smart meter, controllable local grid transformers, as well as load, feed-in and storage management in the same way as GridSense. This makes simulation-supported analysis of the GridSense units possible. In addition, almost any other grid scenarios that cannot be implemented owing to practical limitations of the pilot grid (number of GridSense units, installed capacity of photovoltaic systems, thermal loads and battery storage systems) can be simulated and analysed.
Alpiq is a leading Swiss electricity supplier and energy services provider with a European focus. The company is active in electricity production as well as energy trading and sales. Alpiq offers its customers comprehensive, efficient energy services for buildings and plants, for transport technology as well as for power plant and industrial systems.
In 2014, Alpiq generated sales of CHF 8.1 billion with approximately 8,000 employees. The Alpiq Group is headquartered in Lausanne and listed on the Swiss Exchange SIX.
Landis+Gyr is the leading global provider of integrated energy management products tailored to energy company needs and unique in its ability to deliver true end-to-end advanced metering solutions. Today, the Company offers the broadest portfolio of products and services in the electricity metering industry, and is paving the way for the next generation of smart grid. With annualized sales of more than US$1.5 billion, Landis+Gyr, an independent growth platform of the Toshiba Corporation (TKY:6502) and 40% owned by the Innovation Network Corporation of Japan, operates in 30 countries across five continents, and employs 5,500 people with the sole mission of helping the world manage energy better.
Canton of Solothurn
The population and businesses must be supplied with energy reliably, cost-effectively and with no negative impacts on the environment. Hence, the Canton of Solothurn is committed to safe, sustainable energy supply and reflects this in an active, integral energy policy. In particular, the canton promotes energy efficiency and the use of renewable energies in buildings. The Canton of Solothurn are taking on the new challenges of the electricity industry and are helping to find or provide new solutions.
Swiss Federal Office of Energy
The Swiss Federal Office of Energy (SFOE) supports close-to-market development of innovative technologies and solutions in the cleantech area with the lighthouse programmes. Projects that serve economical, rational energy utilisation or the use of renewable energies are promoted. SFOE lighthouse projects accelerate the implementation of developed technologies and solutions, and their market penetration. These innovative projects make Switzerland energy future visible.