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UW EE Researchers to Develop Smart Building
Technology Through Regional Partnership

Thanks to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) matching a $2.25 million Department of Commerce Clean Energy Fund grant, a team of UW EE researchers led by Assistant Professor Miguel Ortega-Vazquez and Professor Daniel Kirschen will be working on a regional clean energy research project to develop the technology needed to create responsive and energy efficient buildings.

The regional partnership involves three campuses across the state: the University of Washington, Washington State University and DOE’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. This is the first time researchers will be testing transactive controls on this large of a scale. By combining dynamic control techniques that alter the amount of energy used in various devices or grids, transactive controls reduce energy costs and consumption. The project will establish a test bed that will be available for use by other research projects following completion of the study, which is anticipated in 2017.

“Buildings are responsible for more than 40% of total U.S. energy consumption. With the advent of two-way communications and other ways to interact with the consumers under the Smart Grid paradigm, this demand-side resource will gain higher degrees of control and flexibility,” Ortega-Vazquez said. “This flexibility is fundamental to increase the overall energy efficiency and to be able to accommodate larger amounts or renewable energy in our power grids.”

The test bed will involve the installation of multiple smart inverters at UW, to control the power produced from solar panels, and eventually feed campus-produced photovoltaic power into the power grid. The student-run organization UW Solar will be involved in installing solar panels for the project. A lithium-ion battery energy storage system will also be added to increase the flexibility of the power consumption across campus. UW researchers will also utilize their expertise in data analytics to develop strategies to make buildings responsive to transactive control signals.

By spanning three campuses, the project will enable buildings and equipment across all three sites to communicate with each other to automatically adjust energy usage according to data such as energy prices and time of day. The project builds on the recently completed Pacific Northwest Smart Grid Demonstration Project, which involved all three entities.

See Also:

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory News Release

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