Want to get started on transactive energy and nanogrids? Steal this government software



Quick Take:  We've been talking for years about the need to move sensing, intelligence and control to the edges of the grid. A centralized approach simply can't achieve the visibility and response time needed in a world where everything is connected.


More recently, we've been talking about transactive energy as a solution. Essentially, transactive energy lets devices publish their power needs and prioritization. Fine in theory, but how do you put that into practice?


You might want to start with VOLTTRON, a "distributed sensing and control platform." You can review the write-up below or get a quick overview on YouTube using the link at the bottom. It was developed at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory with contributions from others and it's available for free download.


In early experiments, VOLTTRON has been used to link smart grids and smart buildings. And to work on nanogrid concepts, which may soon be bigger than microgrids. Plus, it has a cool name that sounds like it came from a Transformers movie. For once, you'll be able to impress your kids when they ask you what you are working on. - Jesse Berst


VOLTTRONâ„¢- An Intelligent Software Framework for Transactive Energy


Our energy system is changing rapidly. Digital technology, including sensors and controllers across buildings and the grid, produce new data streams offering in-depth understanding of the system. At the same time, integrating renewable energy generation, energy storage, and electric vehicles is adding new challenges. Transactive Energy - a concept combining information, data and energy infrastructure to enable a more efficient energy system - takes into account the changing nature of the energy system. Yet to fulfill its promise, Transactive Energy requires close to real-time, scalable control and diagnostics capabilities that maintain high levels of reliability and security.


An Intelligent Software Framework for Transactive Energy

VOLTTRONâ„¢- a platform for distributed control and sensing - allows sensing and control actions to take place as close to the source of the data as possible. VOLTTRON is designed to support modern control strategies, including use of agent-based and transaction-based controls. It enables mobile and stationary software agents to perform both information gathering, processing, and control actions.


VOLTTRON is a secure, extensible, and modular technology that supports a wide range of applications, such as managing end-use loads, increasing building efficiency, integrating renewable energy, accessing storage, or improving electric vehicle charging. It is equipped to communicate with building systems (e.g. MODBUS or BACnet devices) and external services, has a built-in data historian and weather service, supports OpenADR 1.2., has a flexible messaging system (publish/subscribe), as well as utility and supporting classes to simplify application development, and logging service for saving application results and logging information. More broadly, it is a highly interoperable reference platform for transactive energy applications, enabling the integration of buildings and the grid.