The research team led by Professors Matti Latva-aho and Ari Pouttu will contribute to the BCDC Energy project by designing the most suitable technological solution that allows groups of consumers to join the market. The challenge is to build a reliable power system combining large-scale renewable sources and a large number of small-scale distributed generation contributers.

Latva-aho’s and Pouttu’s team consists of post doctoral researchers Pedro Nardelli and Hirley Alves, doctoral students Samad Ali, Florian Kühnlenz, Iran Ramezanipour and Mauricio de Castro Tomé. The team is part of the Centre for Wireless Communications, CWC, University of Oulu.


In the picture: Hirley Alves, Florian Kühnlenz and Mauricio de Castro Tomé. Photo: Kati Leinonen.

Managing the electricity inventory

However, with a rising number of renewable energy sources like wind and solar connected to the grid, the uncertainty related to electricity generation grows, imposing a big challenge to the physical network. The multidisciplinary team of BCDC Digital will tackle this challenge by building cloud-based algorithms to process electricity data information, providing relevant feedback to the consumers and the necessary control and forecast information to the network operator. Our final goal is to provide the technological tools to scale up distributed generation, laying the foundations for a cleaner energy mix.

If a household is equipped with a solar panel and a battery, it has the potential for generating its own electricity and store it for later use. However, there is no simple way to manage these resources. Many things should be taken into account: these include demand for electricity, solar generation potential, expected reliability, the price of electricity, stress in the power grid and the list could keep growing. The proposed solution is to group small-scale households with equipment to have enough resources to take part in selling/buying electricity in the wholesale market. How to group these households and how to manage the electricity inventory towards a given common objective within the group while following market rules are current research questions to be answered in close cooperation with the other BCDC research teams.

Different objectives require different solutions; but are they compatible?

All members involved in the wholesale market (for example, large-scale users and traditional large-scale power generation) have different objectives; a hospital would require very high reliability, while certain large-scale generation facilities might simply maximize their long-term profits. In the BCDC Energy vision, new market players are set to join with their own specific objectives: some groups of consumers would maximize their profits, while others may want to be self-sufficient as much as possible. Do these diverse goals affect the electricity system? BCDC Digital will look at how different classes of algorithms interact under different rules, assessing potential instabilities that might arise.

As a normal electricity user, you might come up with these questions. To answer them, one needs to look at the state of the electricity system. Within the BCDC Energy solution, these answers would be easily found — the cloud algorithm would give the system state (actual and forecast) to be locally combined with individual data. In this way, usage suggestions can be given in a secure way.

When the fridge knows if the sun is shining

The variations in electricity generation due to the weather conditions will require more flexibility in electricity consumption. In the (near) future, your fridge may know precisely when the sun is shining through the Internet of Things so that it can cool things down a little more. The heating system can also use such timely information to decide whether to further heat the rooms in your home. Neither of these changes would make a noticeable difference in the user experience. This more futuristic view, and its implementation, is also part of the research done at BCDC Digital.

In the picture: Pedro H. J. Nardelli. Photo: Kati Leinonen.