Communication between buildings and the electricity grid is key to reshaping our energy future. The Building-to-Grid Technology and Test Bed project is creating new technologies for ubiquitous communication, testing their performance, and mapping the way to a seamlessly smart system.
To evaluate specific building-to-grid communication strategies, i4Energy researchers are building and testing small-scale software and hardware models, then putting them into operation in a single building, the smallest-scale deployment that can yield meaningful data to gauge success. That test bed is Cory Hall on the UC Berkeley campus, home of the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences. For this project the 206,000-square foot classroom, office, and high-tech laboratory facility has been outfitted with dense networks of electrical metering and wireless sensors. Using this instrumentation, researchers are exploring how an extremely complex electricity load can cooperate with the grid, for both effective demand response and a greater penetration of renewable sources of electricity.
The project is evaluating commercial issues, technical barriers to deployment and analyses of smart-grid technologies. That evaluation will set research directions to help ensure that electricity supply meets demand, renewable sources play a bigger part in our energy picture, and consumers have information and incentives to be more energy-efficient.