Monash researchers propose new approach to energy management in microgrids

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As electricity grids continue to evolve amid increasing adoption of renewable distributed energy resources (DERs), such as rooftop PV, battery storage, and electric vehicles, customers are effectively lowering their power costs. But in order to maximize the individual value of these assets, DER owners should be enabled to participate in different markets for grid support services which can be achieved with the help of energy management software that enables load flexibility.

In a new paper published in the journal Energies, Monash University researchers argue that the implementation of a transactive energy market (TEM) framework can help consumers lower their power costs, by reducing peak demand, and accessing revenues from the provision of network services, such as frequency and voltage management, for the main grid.

A novel approach for energy management and trading, TEM provides a market-based solution to allow both the demand and supply to actively negotiate the exchange of energy. The proper implementation of TEM for microgrid energy management needs a framework, which embraces a range of different design requirements. For instance, in preparation for the deployment of a smart microgrid platform, an enabling IoT hardware installation has to be performed on all DERs in the microgrid. To demonstrate this, the researchers have used the Monash Microgrid as a real-world implementation of TEM.

Comprising 20 buildings, 1 MW of solar, 1 MWh of storage and two EV chargers, Monash’s microgrid is intended to be a fully functioning local electricity network and trading market, with dynamic optimization of resources interacting with an external energy market. The ARENA-backed project was delivered in partnership with technology company Indra, and using its advanced real-time IoT platform.

With the TEM framework, the complete hardware and software foundation of the Monash Microgrid is presented as a platform to deploy a market-based solution for microgrid energy management. This makes it possible for the microgrid to receive and store energy from various renewable energy sources, while also controlling when and how energy is used in response to both internal and external market signals.

According to the researchers, such a TEM framework can be used in microgrids, both partially connected and disconnected ones, to facilitate the integration of DERs in existing networks. “The key feature in transactive energy is using market-based, or dynamic pricing-based, solutions for energy management. Hence, an appropriate TEM framework which outlines the design, implementation, and deployment of transactive energy solutions for energy management in microgrids is one potential core ingredient for enabling a decentralized energy system,” Co-Director of the Monash Grid Innovation Hub and Associate Professor at the Department of Data Science and AI, Faculty of IT, Ariel Liebman said.

A growing number of emerging decentralized business models, including smart grids, virtual power plants (VPPs), and microgrids seek to capture and provide new value streams to customers, other stakeholders, and the entire grid. However, to unlock this potential on a large-scale, regulations need to catch up.

“From a grid perspective, the coordinated and controlled use of DERs provides substantial benefits for the stability of the broader network. The increase in the local value results from the potential participation of DERs in different markets also provides flexibility to prevent or relieve localized network performance issues,” said Dr Reza Razzaghi, Lecturer in the Faculty of Engineering.

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