Category Archives: REIS

Notes from SmartGridComm 2010

Last week I attended the first Smart Grid Communications conference. I was presenting our paper on WattDepot. The presentation went well and there were several questions afterward. One point that I got several questions about was our requirement to support rapid data collection (sub-minute), since that is much faster than most commercial meters support. In retrospect, I should have emphasized our application domain (the Kukui Cup) more in the presentation, which might have helped to explain that requirement.

The following are some of my notes from the conference:

  • There were 102 papers accepted at the conference (40% acceptance rate), and 441 registrations. The mix was roughly 44% academic, 31% industry, 20% R&D, and 5% government.
  • The conference was held at NIST, and throughout the building were NIST clocks that presumably were very accurate. 🙂
  • There is a Smart Grid Consumer Collective, which sounds like an organization we should keep an eye on.
  • There are apparently standard power network topologies that can be used for analysis and research, such as the IEEE 300 bus power flow test case.
  • Some power industry slang I was not aware of: “big wire” relating to electricity distribution, “little wire” relating to communication networks. As in “the Smart Grid is all about the little wire people working with the big wire people.”
  • Georgios Kalogridis presented work on “Privacy for Smart Meters: Towards Undetectable Appliance Load Signatures”. The basic idea being that if the utility has fine-grained data about energy usage, they can determine a lot about what the consumers are doing. Kalogridis et. al. propose a system where a rechargeable battery is located in the home, and can be used to mask the signatures of energy use by charging and discharging at appropriate times. They cite this interesting paper by Elias Quinn that lays out all the potential privacy issues related to fine-grained energy usage data.
  • Came across a reference to Stanford’s PowerNet project, which aims to measure the “energy consumption of enterprise-style computing infrastructures”. Looks cool, paper here.
  • Hironori Nakanishi from the Japanese government reported on the Japanese perspective on the smart grid. Apparently Japanese utilities were not that eager to pursue smart grid upgrades because on average a Japanese consumer has 16 min/year of power outage, compared to the US average of 162 min/year. However, the Japanese government set the target of 25% CO2 reduction by 2020, which will require 28 GW of new solar power.
  • I also had not heard about the Hawaii-Okinawa partnership on clean energy.
  • One of the reasons that demand-side management is being pursued is for “peak shaving” by shifting some appliance loads to off-peak periods. Unfortunately, if all the smart appliances decide to shift their loads to the start of the off-peak pricing period, then you get a rebound peak. This seems like a challenging problem, barring real-time pricing that takes the rebound peak into account.
  • Jay Taneja presented work from UCB on shifting appliance loads to make maximal use of fluctuating renewable energy.The idea is that certain thermostatically-controlled loads like a refrigerator store electrical energy as thermal energy, so they can be scheduled based on the availability of renewable energy (in their study, wind energy). So if there is excess wind energy available, the fridge compressor could run more frequently, and vice versa. Bringing data about grid renewable energy production is something we have been thinking about from the consumer human interface perspective (the carbon “traffic light” concept), but they are working on making actual appliances sensitive to renewable production. Very cool.
  • In total, I gave out 11 business cards, and 2 REIS brochures.

Next year the conference is in Brussels. Paper deadline is April 4, 2011.

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Rebuild Hawaii Consortium March 2010 meeting

I attended the Rebuild Hawaii Consortium quarterly meeting last week. I had never attended any of their meetings before, and I was somewhat surprised at the sizable number of people in attendance (40? 50?). It was held in a large stadium-style conference room at the Hawaii Convention Center. I had checked the agenda in advance, and thought I could arrive at 10 AM and still see everything I wanted to, but apparently the agenda changed since it was posted on the website.

The talk I missed that I wish I had seen was by Luis Vega on the Hawaii National Marine Renewable Energy Center. His slides look very interesting, lots of hard-nosed cost comparisons of wave and OTEC electricity generation.

Paul Norton have a talk on Zero Energy Buildings, which was interesting. I attended his REIS seminar where he covered some of the same things, but this was focused on ZEB. Some points I found particularly interesting:

  • The introduction of air conditioning leads to a 70% increase in electricity use
  • The key conceptual shift is thinking about the monthly cost of a home being the mortgage + utility bill.
  • The efficiency / photovoltaic balance point is the point at which adding generation via PV is the same cost as additional efficiency measures
  • A cost neutral design (monthly cost is same as a home built to code) that uses efficiency and PV results in an 85% reduction in home electricity usage
  • Once major efficiency measures are in place (solar water heating, efficient lighting & air conditioning, insulation), the major remaining load is appliance plug loads
  • In one military housing complex on Oahu, there is a 4x difference in electricity usage between houses with identical efficiency measures. Presumably the differences are due to appliance purchases and behavior.
  • In a group of homes in Las Vegas, the difference was 5x
  • Further, the differences were fairly continuous: there is no nice average plateau
  • PV inverters on the neighbor islands have been causing problems because the utility frequency can sag during periods of high usage. By default, the inverters are set to disconnect from the grid when the frequency drops below 59.3 Hz, so inverters all over turn off, which puts additional strain on the utility, exacerbating the problem. Reducing that threshold frequency to 57 Hz can help. Thus there is a lot of research still to be done on renewable integration.

Another presentation was on HCEI and smart grid initiatives at PACOM. They are working on a project called SPIDERS that is trying to address the fact that access to electricity is a critical need for the military. One thing I was stunned to learn was that people living in military housing don’t pay for electricity! Thus they have no financial incentive at all to reduce their energy usage. Slide 8 shows an actual graph of HECO’s demand and generation for one particular day. Our work on OSCAR was all based on vague outlines of what the demand curve looks like, so it was great to see it “in the flesh”.

There was a lot of good information at the meeting, so I’m planning to attend in the future. Next meeting is June 2.

WattDepot presentation & Derby started

Last week was holiday-shortened by Veterans’ Day. I spent most of my time working on my slides for my ICS 690 presentation, and helping the REIS seminar substitute videographer. Now that the presentation is done, I have begun implementing persistence in WattDepot using Derby.

Plans from last week:

  • Finish slides for presentation to ICS 690
    • done
  • Start working on DerbyStorageImplementation
    • done

Other accomplishments from last week:

  • Finally got video from 11/5/2009 REIS seminar uploaded
  • Attended ITS update seminar
  • Upgraded to 64-bit Cocoa version of Eclipse
  • Wrote up my Java 1.6 & Eclipse experiences

Pointers to work products:

Plans for this week:

  • Keep working on DerbyStorageImplementation
  • Finish implementing missing methods in REST API

Cool links:

Refactoring WattDepot

I spent most of last week working on refactoring some cruft out of WattDepot. The core data types (Source, SensorData, and User) now all have proper constructors and all the code that was in utility classes has been folded into the datatypes themselves. This makes the rest of the system easier to read, but it means it will be a pain if I need to modify the XML schema in the future. If I need to make schema modifications, perhaps I will use the JAXB schema compiler in the other direction to go from code to XML schema.

There is still more refactoring that needs to be done, especially around the interpolated resources. I need to start creating issues in the Google Code site instead of my current tracking via TODO.txt.

Next week on Thursday 11/12 I will be giving an hour-long presentation on my research. Philip will be out of the office for the latter half of that week, so I want to have a draft presentation ready by the end of this week. The other important deliverable for this week is a carbon emission rate resource for WattDepot, which will be needed for the next ICS 413/613 assignment.

Other WattDepot features that need to be implemented are persistence and bringing the Google visualization servlet up to the rest of WattDepot (supporting virtual sources, authentication, etc).

Plans from last week:

  • Make list of refactoring changes to implement
    • mostly done, should be turned into Google Code issues
  • Start designing real persistence layer
    • not done. Philip and I agree that for expediency’s sake I should stick with Derby for now
  • Make Saunders demo with virtual source Google visualization?
    • not done, requires visualization data source improvements
  • Start planning for next 413/613 assignment
    • done, only new feature needed is instantaneous carbon emission rate
  • Write WattDepot server installation and configuration wiki page
    • deferred: without real persistence, probably nobody should be using WattDepot just yet, so no point in writing up installation instructions that will need to be changed

Other accomplishments from last week:

  • Produced a list of “known good” values from the current WattDepot public server for the ICS 413/613 students
  • Wrestled with bad video from REIS seminar, probably due to dirty camcorder heads. Arg.

Pointers to work products:

Plans for this week:

  • Turn TODO.txt into Google Code issues
  • Implement instantaneous carbon emission rate resource in WattDepot
  • Write up code review description for Philip
  • Prepare draft presentation for ICS 690
  • Make GVisualizationServlet support virtual sources
  • Start working on DerbyStorageImplementation

Cool links:

  • Google Wave is pretty interesting (just got an invite last week). In theory, it seems pretty useful, but until many of the people who I collaborate with have accounts, it’s hard to tell if it will be useful in practice.

BMO data importing, onward to Oscar

It took longer than I had planned for, but I now have a client that polls Building Manager Online for data every 15 minutes, and inputs that data into WattDepot, where it can be displayed in a Google Visualization API graph. Discovered that Saunders’ Acquisuite box is set to only upload meter data every hour, so the graphed data is not as fresh as it could be.

This week has a singular focus: implement all the WattDepot functionality required to support the first ICS 413/613 assignment on WattDepot. Philip has written up the assignment, and now it is just a matter of implementation.

Philip got Google PowerMeter working with his TED 5000, which is cool. Hopefully we can extract data directly from PowerMeter, thus avoiding the need to reconfigure firewalls to allow direct access to the TED.

Plans from last week:

  • Finish WattDepot client for Building Manager Online
    • done, finally
  • Implement input client for OSCAR data
    • in progress, should be done by end of day on Monday
  • Write API for Power resource
    • not done
  • Write API for Carbon resource
    • not done
  • Start implementing Power resource
    • not done

Other accomplishments from last week:

Pointers to work products:

Plans for this week:

  • Finish input client for OSCAR data
  • Design and implement Source summary resource
  • Implement GET SensorData for a range of times
  • Design and implement Power resource GET for a timestamp
  • Design and implement Energy resource GET for a range of times
  • Design and implement Carbon resource GET for a range of times
  • Implement virtual sources

Cool links:

  • None to report.

BMO data import in progress

I got sick early last week, which took the wind out of my sails. I ended up being not nearly as productive as I had hoped. Writing and practicing my presentation to the REIS group also took up some time.

The demo client is well underway, and should be ready to fetch data in the next day or so. After that, I need to write a client to input data from OSCAR, now that Philip has it producing simulated Oahu power grid output. Then I need to design and implement the Power and Carbon resources so the ICS 613 students can work on their projects.

Big news in the DIY smart grid today, as Google announced that the TED 5000 is the first non-utility device supported by Google PowerMeter. Woot!

Plans from last week:

  • Clean up loose ends with visualization API
    • done, found out I was using a reserved word for one of my column index names. Doh!
  • Write WattDepot client for Building Manager Online
    • in progress, lots of refactoring from tabular data input client
  • Embed timeline gadget in web page
    • done, now just need to have some dynamic data in there

Other accomplishments from last week:

  • Presented our Smart Consumer work to the REIS group
  • Prepared some Saunders meter data for Dave Nixon

Pointers to work products:

Plans for this week:

  • Finish WattDepot client for Building Manager Online
  • Implement input client for OSCAR data
  • Write API for Power resource
  • Write API for Carbon resource
  • Start implementing Power resource

Cool links:

Actually imported data last week

While the minimal demo is not yet complete, WattDepot can now accept sensor data, and I have written a client that takes tab-delimited data from Veris power meters (via Building Manager Online) and sends it to WattDepot. This allows me to input the Saunders Hall data to date, since I have all that in files chunked by month and meter.

The final step required for the demo is getting the Google Visualization data source Java library working. I’m working through the examples and dependencies now, and intend to have something demoable this week.

Been doing the REIS seminar thing for a few weeks now, so the process is fairly cut and dried now. Hopefully shouldn’t cut into research work too much.

Plans from last week:

  • Write unit tests for SensorData resource (PUT, GET)
    • done
  • Implement TabularFileDataInputClient
    • done
  • Implement Google Visualization data source API
    • in progress
  • Attend metering meeting at Blue Planet
    • done
  • Annotate REST API with which parts are implemented so far
    • done, listing things as unimplemented until they are unit tested
  • Once demo feature set implemented, upload distribution to Google Code site
    • not done
  • Start filling in parts of implementation that were skipped for demo
    • not done
  • Write up meter notes
    • deferred, going to wait for feedback from Olin

Other accomplishments from last week:

Pointers to work products:

Plans for this week:

  • Implement Google Visualization data source API
  • Upload demo distribution to Google Code site
  • Add Energy resource to REST API document
  • Add Carbon resource to REST API document
  • Start implementing Energy resource

Cool links:

  • CARMA is a global database of carbon emissions by power plants. Has pretty good listings for Hawaii, as well as an API.