Smart Grid Energy Research Center
|Location||Los Angeles, California|
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The UCLA Smart Grid Energy Research Center (SMERC), located on the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) campus, is an organization focused on developing the next generation of technologies and innovation for the SmartGrid. Partnerships with government, technology providers, DOE research labs and universities, utilities, policy makers, and electric vehicle and appliance manufacturers provide SMERC with diverse capabilities and exceptional, matured leadership.
The organizations ever-growing developments are created with the intention to satisfy the Smart Grid by allowing an increase in grid flexibility, integration of renewable energy sources, competitive energy pricing, improved efficiencies, and reduce power outages and losses. Overall SMERC's developments will provide a service by being more responsive to the market, consumer, and society in general. Currently, SMERC is performing research on Microgrids, Automated Demand Response, Electric Vehicle Integration (G2V and V2g), Cybersecurity, and Distributed and renewable integration. All technology and research is being developed and collected at UCLA's Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science by a team of well experienced staff and the school's graduate students.
SMERC has collaborations with USC and Caltech/JPL, LADWP in a smart grid demonstration project. Internationally, SMERC has connected with the Korea Institute of Energy Research (KIER). "The partnership involves SMERC testing for the development of the software and platform involved in smart grid technology, while KIER focuses on various renewable energy technologies, such as solar, wind and fuel cells, as well as wireless communications and semiconductor systems." 
"While the electrical grid in the United States is very reliable, it is currently somewhat limited in its ability to incorporate new renewable energy sources; to effectively manage demand response; to sense and monitor trouble spots; and to repair itself." This reliability will not last if the grid systems stay the same as populations rise and electricity demands rise. This demand calls for innovative technologies and systems to provide and manage demand response, sensory/monitor repair, and self-repair to help stabilize the grid. SMERC has been building these technologies since the fall of 2004. The system also calls for better efficiently among energy generators and savers. Today, the current grid in North America is very old and in many areas, up to 100 years old. The grid is inflexible and must be modernized to handle the intermittency of renewable energy sources (solar power, wind turbines, etc.). These energy sources, if resourced properly will prove to be valuable to the grid, providing it with energy that is currently wasted. With this high demand for electricity, there is a tremendous opportunity in the United States for innovation between the current electric grid and the next generations of systems using RFID and Integrated Sensors, Information, and Wireless technologies.
With awareness in Smart Grid growing, questions about what the new modernized grid will be like are being asked. Unfortunately there is no clear answer to what the grid will look like. For instance, it is like predicting what an apple computer would be capable of accomplishing today when the first apple computer was released in 1976 (36 years ago). There is now enormous opportunity for experimentation, creativity, and research in Smart Grid technology. Entrepreneurs, universities, and other innovators are in the process of creating indescribable possibilities for the future Smart Grid.
The major starting point for investment into modernizing the current grid was the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) stimulus package (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, i.e. ARRA). The ARRA invested approximately $4.4 billion for Smart Grid research. LADWP received $60 million from the DOE's stimulus package. "The money will be used for “smart grid" demonstration projects. The projects will allow the city’s Department of Water and Power, the largest municipal utility in the nation, to use advanced meters and other technology at the universities to chart how power is being consumed, forecast demand and potential outages, and seek ways to reduce energy use."
The Waxman – Markley comprehensive energy bill (American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009) increased the awareness and impact on the electric transmission grid. The act was designed with the intention to reduce greenhouse emissions by 17 percent by 2020. This reduction would require there to be a concentration on energy consumption and production. This bill directly and indirectly stimulates universities and private industries into being innovators in new technologies for the grid. Collaborations among utilities, government, technology providers, and universities are made to provide information and technologies for the new generation of Smart Grid and Smart Energy Technology.
The Smart Grid Energy Research Center (SMERC) consists of several key projects as follows:
UCLA WINSmart Grid™
“The UCLA WINSmartGrid™ is a network platform technology that allows electricity operated appliances such as plug-in automobile, washer, dryer, or, air conditioner to be wirelessly monitored, connected and controlled via a Smart Wireless hub.”
Overall the WINSmartGrid™ advantages are as follows: provides a low power technology, uses low standards-based hardware resulting in lower overall cost, wireless infrastructure for monitoring and control, open architecture for easy integration, plug-and-play approach, reconfigure ability, and service architecture with three layers – Edgeware, Middleware and Centralware.
The WINSmartGrid™ technology uses a three layered Serviceware architecture along with ReWINS technology.
A simple explanation of the process is that the Centralware makes a decision, the Middleware reads that decision, then maps and routes these decisions to the Edgeware, where the decisions are then sent through the low-level control signals.
The Edgeware: controlling and utilizing the wireless technology networks, and creation, management, setup of software and firmware. It connects with RFID tags, motion detectors, temperature monitors, or 10X controllers on refrigerators. Within the WINSmartGrid™ hub, a variety of monitors/sensors are supported that the Edgeware has connection with including humidity, current, voltage, power, shock, motion, chemicals, etc. This hub is capable of supporting wireless protocols (e.g. WiFi, Bluetooth, Zigbee, GPRS, and RFID). The most efficient protocols seem to be the low-power protocols such as Zigbee.
The Middleware: The “middle man” between the Edgeware and the Centralware. Capable of providing functions such as data filtration, extraction of meaningful information, aggregation and messaging of data from the Edgeware, and distribution of the information to the proper destination/ web service accordingly.
The Centralware: Decision making web service. It receives all information and determines what the best decisions are based on rules and carries out the execution of these decisions. Currently the WINSmartGrid™ Centralware is running on a basic set of rules, whereas, it will eventually work with external intelligent services as they begin to come online.
Automated Demand Response (ADR)
“The Automated Demand-Response (ADR) programs shows control models and secure messaging schemes, automation in load curtailment, leveraging multiple communication technologies, and maintaining interoperability between the Smart Grid automation architecture layers.”
SMERC is in the process of creating a test area that would provide information on consumers’ energy usage and the distribution of that energy from a utility service. The test beds are located on the UCLA campus which will serve as a living lab for demonstration of ADR concepts. Since UCLA produces 75% of its own energy through its natural gas power plant, the campus is an easy and desirable place for conducting ADR research and demonstration.
ADR will require control technology components and subsystems that will work with security, network standards, messaging, protocols, etc. in culmination with operational parameters. Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) will also be checked for proper ability in terms of data volume and networking aspects. Further requirements such as rate design models, system-wide data and metadata modeling, etc. will be used to guide though system architecture The Demand-Response system provides an efficient service to utility systems and consumers. It is based on a service-oriented architecture (SOA) that would use information from the utility systems technical evaluations and requirement analysis to help assist integration modalities for backend utility systems. Through this architecture, real-time collaboration among the entire network involving billing, metering, distribution, etc., can be accomplished. Consumers are able to make requests and a supervisory controlling system will monitor the demands of the consumer and make the best available decisions. This Demand-Response system will also can be represented by various types of energy customers (e.g. commercial, residential, industrial). This will create unique and different load profiles and pricing for each type of these customers, all of which the system must keep track of. With the WINSmartGrid™ technology, transactions will be communicated through wireless technologies to convey common data payloads. Currently, SOA in conjunction with open embedded system can provide support for plug-and-play and secure-demand-response. Also, an application programming interface (API) provides customizability and extensibility to the system.
The test beds use automation technologies and will provide demonstration of the systems functionality, communication fidelity and reliability, testing of data, protocols, etc. These technologies are AMI-DR models, hardware and software interfaces, software architecture, access control policies, recommended security schemes and algorithms, and desired set of optimizations.
The testing phase would provide developed, detailed performance on the demand-response processes and technology components or sub-systems where efficient changes and predictions can be made to fulfill a targeted load curtailment and consumer demands.
The test beds for the current research will have a "network platform that enables appliances such as plug-in electric vehicles, washers, dryers and air conditioners to be wirelessly monitored, connected, and controlled through a wireless communications framework. These test bed arrangements will provide vital research on the demand-response systems." 
Electric vehicle integration into the grid
The automotive market in California is unlike any other. With an immense population and energy consumption, the state calls for creative ways to conserve energy in the most energy-conscious and cost efficient ways. It comes to no surprise then that California would be the base for most significant electric vehicle (EV) innovators such as Tesla. As these changes and innovations to the EV culture continue to grow, the next step is to supply this innovation with the capability to communicate and integrate EVs into the smart grid of tomorrow.
Currently, technology within SMERC is being used and built for the program WINSmartEV™. It focuses on the integration of both wireless and RF-monitoring and control technologies. The EV technology provides a more energy efficient, economical, and user friendly smart technology for charging an EV. Several parking structures on the UCLA campus now provide EV charging to its members. These stations are monitored by SMERC's software systems in the Engineering Department. All data regarding these charging stations is collected by members of the SMERC team to evaluate tendencies and requests of its users. This data will be evaluated to provide the stations users with the best possible management of charging their EV.
WINSmartEV™'s main objective is to increase stability of the local power system and reduce energy cost by managing all operations conducted in charging an EV. The most recent implementation developed allows for several EVs to charge at one charging station while receiving different, yet controllable current. This type of charging system will provide the user with the vast flexibility towards charging an EV. This system provides the user with conveniences pertaining to parking, price, time limits, and power consumption.
Another objective for the WINSmartEV™ program wirelessly gathering information from the electric grid and EV to determine more efficient charging capabilities for the EV. With the proper management of EV’s, charging and backfill operations can be used to lower electricity rates and flatten the load curve.
User interface allows the EV owner to have the capability of controlling where, when, why, and how to charge their vehicle. An EV user may use a handheld device to view a map of charging stations, schedule exact time charge, start and stop her charge at any convenience, and this all could be done from a single touch on a Smartphone or other handheld devices. Also, if necessary or requested, an alert can be issued to the driver when the battery capacity is need of charging.
SMERC evaluates EVs and charging stations patterns in order to determine the appropriate wireless technologies and sensor modules that are best for installation. At conclusion, integrating the EVs with WINSmardGrid™ the local AMI and the Demand-Response will provide communication and alerting systems for WINSmartEV™.
Other projects in beginning stages or current development in the SMERC are Battery storage integration with renewable solar, EV to solar integration, V2G, Cyber Security Testing, Wireless Monitoring and Control of the grid, Microgrid modeling and control, Autonomous Electric Vehicles, Home Area Networks and Consumer Issue in EV Integration and DR.
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