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Computerised agents for smart electricity

05 May 2010 Southampton, University of

Computer scientists at the University of Southampton have developed a system of computerised agents which can manage energy use and storage in homes.

Having already developed agents that can trade on the stock market and manage crisis communications, a team of researchers, led by Dr Alex Rogers and Professor Nick Jennings at the University of Southampton's School of Electronics and Computer Science, have now developed an agent-based micro-storage management technique that allows homes to adapt their energy use to match market conditions.

The ultimate aim of this system is to optimise individual electricity usage and storage, in order to improve efficiency of the electricity grid and to reduce emissions.

The system, developed by Dr. Krishnen Vytelingum, Dr. Thomas Voice and Dr. Sarvapali Ramchurn, is outlined in a paper entitled Agent-based Micro-Storage Management for the Smart Grid, which has been nominated for the Best Paper Award at AAMAS 2010, the 9th International Conference on Autonomous Agents and Multiagent Systems, which takes place from 10-14 May in Toronto, Canada.

According to Dr Rogers, who earlier this year launched an iPhone application, named GridCarbon, to measure the carbon intensity of the UK grid, this system will make it possible to install smart software into electricity meters. This will mean that the agents will be able to optimise the usage and storage profile of the dwelling and learn the best storage profile given market prices at any particular time.

“This approach focuses on the system dynamics where all agents in the system are given the freedom to buy electricity whenever they see fit and, building on this, they can then learn the best storage profile in a market place where prices keep changing,” says Dr Rogers. “Another advantage is that if most homes in the system start using storage and manage to reduce peak demand, the overall cost of generating electricity is reduced.”

The paper is available at:

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