The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Science has awarded a $1.05 million grant to energy company ComEd, the University of Denver, Virginia Tech and software specialist BEM Controls to create an energy internet that will enhance building energy management and benefits to occupants.
The award provides funding to commercialise a blockchain-based transactive energy platform developed by BEM Controls with funding from the DOE. Blockchains use multiple servers that operate like decentralised record-keeping and verification systems.
They are seen as a promising solution for energy companies bringing more distributed energy resources (DER) onto their systems and creating marketplaces offering an array of Internet of Things (IoT) devices and innovative energy services.
The BEM Controls software incorporates time-based energy management and control of interior spaces in buildings to achieve greater energy efficiency, reliability and resiliency.
ComEd will use its Grid of the Future Lab to demonstrate the functionality of the system, which will be developed over three years.
“Energy management technology has the potential to make a very positive impact on the environments in which we live and work,” said Terry Donnelly, president and COO, ComEd. “ComEd’s Grid of the Future lab will play an important role in advancing the science in this field and support our efforts to deliver a premier customer experience.”
“The growing proliferation of distributed energy resources calls for advanced management frameworks that support peer-to-peer communications while being fast, scalable and secure,” said Dr. Amin Khodaei, chairman of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at University of Denver.
“Now is the time to develop and demonstrate the technologies that can make a more sustainable and resilient future possible.”
While in early stages of development, interactive energy platforms are gaining attention for their potential to manage volatility caused by the growth of distributed energy resources. BEM Controls selected blockchain to support its open architecture due to its recognised ability to ensure security for a broad range of transactions.
The Virginia Tech team is led by Prof. Saifur Rahman, founding director of the Virginia Tech Advanced Research Institute, IEEE fellow and president of the IEEE Power and Energy Society.