First operating system for smart grid home automation

16 Dec 2009 | News

Development opportunity

Germany’s Open Gateway Energy Management Alliance (OGEMA) has developed an open software platform for energy management, which links electricity supply companies’ loads and generators to the control stations of the electricity grid and includes a customer display for end users/consumers.

In this way, end users will be able to automatically observe the future variable price of electricity, and shift energy consumption to times when the price is low.

While people talk about saving energy, when it actually comes down to it, most are not prepared to adjust the heating up and down according to room usage, or to monitor which are the energy-hungry appliances within a house, says OGEMA. Along with saving energy, shifting energy consumption according to supply is also becoming more and more important, as an increasing amount of electricity is generated not in large power stations, but by wind power and photovoltaics, which operate intermittently, and by de-centralised generators such as combined-heat-and-power units.

“Already today electricity is free on the German Energy Exchange at times when large power plants have to be de-rated due to high feed-in from wind power. Using automated load-shifting, private households and small business should benefit from such favourable electricity prices,” said Philipp Strauß, head of the Division of System Engineering und Grid Integration at the Fraunhofer Institute for Wind Energy and Energy System Technology (IWES) in Kassel, Germany.

Together with partners from the Model City Mannheim project and the European Union’s SmartHouse/SmartGrid project, Fraunhofer IWES is developing technology to assist end users in becoming smarter energy consumers. OGEMA was founded by Fraunhofer IWES to further promote and develop this concept and all interested parties are invited to participate.

The inspiration is successful open source projects, such as Linux, or the web browser Firefox. Anyone will be able to turn ideas into software for the gateway platform. The aim is to develop a multitude of applications within a short period of time, covering the differing requirements of private households, supermarkets, small businesses and public institutions such as schools and hospitals, to tap potential for energy efficiency in a way which is not currently possible.

Developers of software for connecting the gateway to devices and energy systems within buildings, as well as to the control stations of the energy suppliers, can also use the open interfaces provided by OGEMA. The gateway brings together applications and hardware in the same way as the operating system of a personal computer. It also acts as a firewall between the private area of the customer, on the one hand, and the public internet and public energy supply networks, on the other hand.

“Shifting energy [consumption] into times of high generation and saving energy should not only save money, but should also be fun,” says David Nestle, head of the Decentralized Energy Management group at Fraunhofer IWES. OGEMA will open up a variety of new opportunities for consumers, for example, the ability to control a single heating radiator precisely over time, to suit the requirements of the users, or adapting the operation of power-hungry electrical appliances according when a customer’s photovoltaic plant is generating electricity.

Fraunhofer IWES is currently developing a first version of the OGEMA software, which is to be made public and available for download on the OGEMA home page at the beginning of 2010 ( Further information on the technical concept can already be found there.

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