Distributed IoT/VoltVAR

To fight climate change, it’s important that we integrate more renewable sources of power to the grid. But these energy sources, mostly solar and wind, are intermittent and cause severe stability issues. So power operators must CURTAIL their integration. That sucks – we have abundant sources of energy, but we can’t use them!

This research project aims to tackle that challenge by using smart inverters to modulate their power output in real-time to assist the grid instead of destabilizing it. New standards such as California Rule 21 and amendments to the earlier grid interconnection standard (IEEE 1547a 2014) are slowly allowing more smart inverters to be connected to the grid.

That’s not nearly enough – how will utilities manage the deployment of thousands of these smart inverters to the grid-edge? Also, are smart inverters really smart if grid operators are constantly setting the setpoints on these devices and telling them what to do?

That’s where the innovative part kicks in. What if we equip the inverters with a real-time, highly scalable, communication framework such that they can share information and optimize their local area of control? This would result in a decentralized, efficient, and reliable solution for utilities looking to increase the penetration of renewable DERs to the grid. The framework is built on the IoT middleware entitled Data Distribution Service (DDS), which is fully distributed, capable of sending millions of messages per second to multiple receivers, and can provide a fair level of determinism for real-time applications.

In partnership with the Sustainable Technologies Evaluation Program (STEP) and York University, we performed some real-world field tests and came up with some exciting results. Have a look at the videos below and let us know what you think at info@heroeng.ca

In the next video, we use the intelligent agents to respond to grid requests. This software is built as per the IEC 61850 (90-7) specifications, enabling electrical utilities to remotely control grid assets in a scalable and flexible manner.