The CSIRO report ‘Smart’ fridges stay cool by talking to each other says
CSIRO Engineer, Sam West, says the smart fridges work as a network of distributed fridges, each fitted with control technology that allows them to communicate with each other via a network to share and store the energy provided by renewable-power generators.
“The fridges are designed to talk to each other, negotiating when it’s a good time to consume electricity and when it’s better not to,” Mr West says. “These scheduling decisions improve the quality of electricity produced by renewables and can help increase renewable uptake in the energy market.”
During the day, for example, supplies of electricity generated from photovoltaics can be interrupted by cloud cover resulting in periods of variable power supply.
“The fridges are designed to talk to each other, negotiating when it’s a good time to consume electricity and when it’s better not to,”
Mr West says.
“These fluctuations are bad for the electricity grid,” Mr West says. “Rapid variations in electricity flow can destabilise the grid and result in blackouts and other unwanted side-effects, but your fridge can help smooth out these fluctuations if it turns on and off at the right time.
“The fridges work together to decide when to cool down, and thus consume power, based on how much surplus power will be available. They are able to anticipate power shortages and change their running schedules accordingly to use as little power as possible during these times. In short, the fridges are working cooperatively to use the available power supply efficiently.”CSIRO have a broader research program called Smart agents : an intelligent way to manage and control energy
The distributed intelligent agent system gives individual consumers real-time information about their power demand and energy pricing during peaks; utilities are provided with a tool to arrange coordinated action by thousands of users.
The inter-connectivity of the intelligent agents provides global appliance supervision. The aggregated response of the agents can address higher order goals like matching consumer demand to intermittent renewable energy supply systems.
As a result, local generation and load control are made more attractive and beneficial as investment options for power generation companies.
Because power retailers are able to manage demand by aggregating consumer-level supply and demand, businesses can reduce their exposure to high wholesale electricity prices.
The project’s scientists see the typical application of this technology being in a number of commercial buildings and domestic residences where there are numerous energy loads and some local generation.The Smart agents program is run by Dr Glenn Platt who is described as
Dr Platt is currently putting all of his research and management efforts into an Energy Transformed Flagship project that is investigating the application of intelligent agents into the management and control of distributed energy.
Dr Platt explains 'Distributed energy is the generation of electricity using small generation sources located close to the actual electrical loads, as well as more effective control of how electricity is actually used at the load itself.'The Smart agents program is part of CSIRO's Flagship research into distributed energy which is described as having the following benefits
With a major asset investment required to meet the predicted growth in Australia’s energy demand, and increasing awareness of the environmental costs of our current power generation technologies, LEDE (Low Emission Distributed Energy systems, which use small scale stationary technology [producing less than 30MW] to provide local power, heat and cooling) offers the least cost, low CO2 option for electricity capacity growth.
It achieves this by providing energy (electricity, heat and cooling) and improved efficiency at the point of use in industrial, commercial and residential applications, avoiding the need for costly transmission and distribution network upgrades and new large centralised generation assets.
Widespread uptake of LEDE would supplement existing, large, remotely-located, base-load power stations and power delivery networks, assisting in overall green
LEDE systems provide energy at the point of use, avoiding the need for new large centralised assets and distribution network upgrades along with their associated emissions.Some other energy load management products are