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Autonomous energy assistant to facilitate domestic DSR in new Living Lab trial

Image: Energy Systems Catapult.

Image: Energy Systems Catapult.

An autonomous digital energy assistant is to be trialed by Edinburgh-based Amp X in 50 Living Lab homes run by the Energy Systems Catapult.

The aim of the technology – dubbed ALICE: Agent for Lifestyle-based Intelligent Control of Energy – is to create a consumer centric energy system, helping to reduce the cost and carbon intensity of households’ energy and ultimately leading to peer-to-peer trading.

It uses a combination of machine learning, advanced data analytics and control systems for this, with the capability to make autonomous demand-side response decisions based on real world market signals.

These signals can include calls from network operators for additional flexibility to manage grid constraints, changes to carbon intensity of the grid or time-of-use tariffs that offer cheaper electricity when demand alters.

To trial the technology, an additional 50 houses will therefore join the Living Lab, a real-world test environment of almost 200 homes. The Energy Systems Catapult will provide consumer insights to Amp X on how the Living Lab residents experience the technology, with ALICE learning the preferences of residents, such as what time they need their electric vehicle (EV) charged in the morning or target temperatures for heating different rooms. It will then determine the optimum schedule to minimise cost and carbon for households.

The Living Lab analysis of ALICE aims to test the potential for the digital energy assistant to facilitate demand-side response and provide carbon savings, what the consumer experience is like and the interface between the assistant and a variety of devices such as EVs and smart meters.

The Living Lab - which has undergone an upgrade over the past six months, including adding features such as a new digital integration platform - utilises a range of housing types and consumer demographics spread around the UK. This is to allow for testing of low carbon innovations in real-world conditions.

“Our ultimate goal is to deliver an inclusive, future‐proof, fully transactive grid, where virtualised local energy markets exemplify the full democratisation and decentralisation of the grid, with peer‐to‐peer trading through the active participation of every producer and consumer across the grid," explained Dr Irene Di Martino, head of Amp X.

Earlier this month, Energy UK, the Association for Decentralised Energy (ADE) and Citizens Advice called for greater consumer protection as demand side response becomes more common.

The three organisations put together a risk register, identifying the potential consumer risks, where these risks are covered by current legislation, what work is underway to address future risks and where there is likely to be a protection gap.

It follows on from the ADE decreeing that domestic demand side response is on the verge of widespread rollout in 2020, predicting it could achieve full commercial scale in the next two to five years.


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