The Stack Archive

Smart home power management débuts through national grid

Tue 11 Oct 2016

Data transmission across the national electricity grid is now a reality, using a newly-developed system from a UK company. The Grid Data and Measurement System (GDMS) allows for immediate and effective demand-side adjustments to power consumption by smart devices connected to the grid.

Reactive Technologies created the GDMS as a way to send data to and from smart devices connected to an electrical network. The power consumption of a transmitting device, such as a freezer, can be modulated through tiny variations in grid frequencies, which are decoded by the devices themselves.

For example, a freezer can be ‘instructed’ by the grid to slightly reduce power consumption during a time of high power demand. This would have no noticeable effect to the consumer, with resulting variations of less than 1 degree C, but when combined over the network, could have a significant effect on power consumption system-wide.

Data sent to and from smart appliances and other devices can be used to improve power efficiency nationwide, which will help transform consumer power to a modern, decentralized model of ‘virtual power stations’, where local homes and business can pool efforts for demand-side power management.

By communicating with the grid, smart devices, including refrigerators, freezers, and water heaters could vary power consumption immediately based on fluctuations in demand – a innovation in power efficiency and load balancing, where demand flexibility is an essential component that until now was largely unavailable to most consumers.

Cordi O’Hara, Director of UK Systems for National Grid stated, “Technology that allows devices to communicate quickly will help encourage ‘demand side’ solutions that encourage efficient use of energy and will increasingly become part of the way the grid is managed.”

After a successful test over the UK National Grid system that ran from April 2014 through March 2016, Reactive is ready to roll out the program to the commercial sector and, later, to residential consumers in the UK and overseas.

“GDMS can dramatically reduce the cost of creating large-scale smart grid networks allowing wider participation in DSR programs,” said Jens Madrian, CFO and CCO of Reactive. “Creating flexible demand is the lowest cost and carbon free way of balancing the electricity system which is otherwise managed by turning up or down thermal power plant like diesel generators or gas fired power stations. GDMS offers a new cost-effective way to create flexible demand at scale.”


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