Sustainable Data Centers


Understanding and reducing energy demands on the consumer side

Prof. Karl Aberer ~ Project Website

WATTALYST (WATT anALYSis Technologies) will establish correlations between electricity consumption (monitored on a fine-grained basis) and the factors that influence demand side participation. The insights gained will be presented to DR designers using a visual analytics framework that can help the designers, and possibly also policy makers, to design and implement effective DR solutions and configure related parameters when it comes to energy/DR information communication (visualization) and consumer incentives, including pricing models.

Wattalyst is a consortium comprising of 7 partners, aiming to understand in what context and how consumers would reduce demand. For example, identifying the loads (e.g. washing machines, electric vehicles) that can be shifted and those that cannot; and identifying the loads that are reduced (e.g. cooling, heating) and those that are not all user/house-hold specific and which of them varies based on the need of the hour. Another goal of Wattalyst is to understand effective methods of conveying the DR signals to the users. In particular, the research will focus on interface design; communication means (in-house displays, SMS messages), message emphasis (environmental, economical) and customized messages based on gender, age and profile.

  • Observe – Readings from networked smart meters and appliance monitoring devices.
  • Infer – By consumer context extraction & data mining.
  • Inform – The consumer about peak load, high market price, system instability etc. through SMS, inhouse displays.
  • Influence – The consumers with incentives for reducing consumption.

WATTALYST’s objective is to generate new knowledge about how ICT can be developed and used to make more effective and efficient energy DR (demand-response) solutions – i.e. how energy demand (need) patterns and energy response (production) patterns can be either harmonized or DR differences can be positively utilized. WATTALYST focus to build new knowledge is primarily related to the consumer (“demand”) side.

In order to investigate this, WATTALYST performs experiments based research and validate our results in three pilot sites (Bilbao, Luleå and Mallorca).

Pilot experimentation methodology includes the following steps:

  • Consider a specific DR strategy, in terms of an incentive scheme and a user interface design.
  • Make the DR signal available to a selected group of users.
  • Perform the following cycle on the selected user group:
    • Inform users and DR designers.
    • Study the Influence of the DR on user consumption.
    • Observe fine-grained/coarse-grained energy consumption.
    • Infer energy profiles, consumption patterns.
  • Build a repository of the collected experimental results and fine-tune the DR strategy based on DR performance analysis tools.

The new knowledge generated is expected to instrument more efficient DR system implementations. This means that WATTALYST will indirectly target several major energy related environmental, human, societal and industrial long-term challenges and objectives:

  • Reduced energy consumption.
  • Reduced harmful emissions (e.g. CO2), by reduced need for “dirty” energy sources.
  • Increased reliability in energy provisioning to critical functions in society & industry.
  • Increased opportunities to use new environmentally friendly energy sources.
  • Improved energy economy.

In some cases we have made some tentative expectations on long term effect, and within the scope of the project we will seek to improve the quality of our “DR sustainable effect expectations”.