A new lab for the smart communities of the future
JRC's new Smart Grid Interoperability Laboratory researches and evaluates ways to achieve integration and interoperability between smart devices and systems.
The lab will help to ensure that new smart technologies are able to meet the potential they have to transform our societies. Our houses are fast becoming smart homes, with smart thermostats, domestic appliances and security systems activated by apps on our smartphones. But this is just the beginning.
Smart homes are growing into smart communities and smart regions - even smart cities. In the near future, we will live in an intelligent digital ecosystem, where virtual power plants connect up sustainable energy systems, where electric cars behave as intelligent batteries, and where citizens produce energy as well as consuming it.
In order to achieve an intelligent digital ecosystem, all systems need to be able to communicate with each other - they need to be interoperable. This will need to be facilitated and supported by dedicated policy, standardisation and technical instruments.
Testing at the lab
The JRC Smart Grid Interoperability Laboratory will test the interoperability of smart technologies, both coming from the market and resulting from research projects.
Devices, appliances and components for energy use, energy storage and the systems connecting them will be tested. This work will also help to develop a common testing methodology - so customers can be sure that when the products they are buying meet interoperability standards, they can rely on them to work.
For example - if we buy an electric car, we need to be sure that the charger plug will fit at home, but also at the office and on the road. And we don't want to be faced unexpectedly with an overloaded energy network or battery damage to the car. Testing at the lab will help to tackle such challenges.
With these actions, the JRC will also contribute to the implementation of EU policies aiming at the clean energy transition and the digitalisation of energy.
Scientists presented the lab infrastructure, and demonstrated how some of the testing will take place, including:
- Interoperability testing of smart home devices: the scientists showed how they will test individual appliances to ensure they are able to communicate their operational state with one another and with the grid;
- The scientists demonstrated testing for technology that is designed to predict electrical load over time for representative regions (such as energy use at different times of the day for 100 houses in a neighbourhood);
- Batteries and the virtual storage power plant: scientists showed how they will test that smart home batteries and connected electric vehicles are able to communicate effectively with the smart grid, both as a source of energy and to be able to draw energy from the grid as necessary;
- Blockchain Enabled Energy Communities: scientists will test technologies designed to track energy use and production of smart homes within a smart grid, tracking what homes are using and producing and seamlessly managing transactions between residents and energy companies.
They were also joined in the control room by video link with the Interoperability lab at JRC Ispra and the real time integrated co-simulation laboratory at Aachen and Torino universities.