The need to advance the state-of-the-art in smart grid technologies is increasingly recognized by scientists, engineers, practitioners and policy makers, as the critical mechanism to improve the energy efficiency of producing and using electricity in our homes, businesses, and public institutions. The smart grid enhances the traditional electricity distribution system with three critical components: (1) two-way communications of energy and digital information (thus enabling the combination of energy and information as entities being exchanged), (2) monitoring infrastructures to supply information to the communication network, and (3) computational intelligence to use such information to maintain stable optimal operational efficiency and energy delivery and to enable autonomous response to abnormal or disruptive events. The smart grid allows the control and monitoring of the entire grid, from the utility to the smart home (e.g., intelligent appliances and plug-in electric vehicles). The overall goals are energy conservation, cost reduction, and enhanced reliability, security and transparency.
A key feature of the smart grid vision is that there will be intelligent autonomous agents in homes, businesses, and production facilities that are capable of making decisions to control power productions, loads and transmissions. To achieve this vision, we must design both the strategies that individual agents will use to make these decisions, as well as the mechanisms and protocols that will allow them to coordinate their actions in the context of the larger system to ensure reliable and efficient energy delivery. Therefore, the contributions of this coordination project towards the Center’s goals are as follows: We will design solutions based on several paradigms suited to different aspects of smart grid coordination, including (1) constraint-based mechanisms, which are suited to coordinating behavior for large organizations (e.g., a military base or a college campus); (2) knowledge-based negotiation mechanisms, which are well suited for partially self-interested agents to arrive at long-term contracts (e.g., consumer agents negotiating long-term contracts with producer agents); and (3) market-based mechanisms, which can be used to allow self-interested agents to reach fast decisions in more limited negotiations (e.g., prosumer agents negotiating short-term exchange of power with other prosumer agents).