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Electrical network load management by feedback control

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The liberalization of the electricity market, the establishment of many producers of green energy whose behavior is random, the mass marketing of electric vehicles, all that require new methods for controling and setting the grid.

The new concept we have developed allows electricity distribution companies (distributors) to remotely switch on and off distributed charges, power production units and storage devices.

Its structure consists of a central server that communicates with smart relays installed near each device. The relays measure the current condition of each device. The system we have built can manage each device separately.

By modeling the distributor network with a neural network, a forecast of its power balance can be generated. It is used to buy or sell energy at the Energy Exchange and serves as reference signal to our system. We have developed and implemented algorithms that can control the balance of the power grid in real time without reducing the comfort of the users. Under good conditions, the use of control energy can completely be avoided.

The owner of an appliance can choose an adapted rule and set limits for the switching of his device. However, he can at all times override these settings. Financial benefits are granted to users who provide devices to our system.

The system we propose can dramatically improve supply safety, significantly reduce investments and costs of purchasing energy for the distributor and slightly reduce energy losses.

Results

The project has resulted in a fully operational prototype which operative part is entirely made of commercially available equipments.

Two systems inspired by “Atenet” will soon be in service in distribution companies, as part of a research project called “Smart Metering”. These systems will allow full-scale testing to optimize the algorithms and to quantify the actual savings.

The project results and the demonstrator were presended several times in particular at the Power Engineering Society (ETG) symposium in Fribourg on 7th October 2010, at the 5th Swiss Innovation Forum in Basel (Novartis Campus) on 4th November 2010 and during the "Energissima" exhibition in Fribourg (13th to 16th April 2011).