May 2010
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OpenADR’s Steps Toward a National Smart Grid Standard

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The announcement that Honeywell is acquiring start-up company Akuacom is one of several recent developments that moves a technology developed by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and its research partners closer to a key role in the Smart Grid. Honeywell and Akuacom and are among more than 30 energy management and control systems vendors that offer products based on Open Automated Demand Response (OpenADR), a communication specification developed by researchers at Berkeley Lab’s Demand Response Research Center (DRRC).

By following the OpenADR communications specification, building control systems can automatically respond to Internet-based signals that provide electricity grid prices and reliability messages.  Building controls take pre-planned steps to reduce electricity use. This is called automated demand response (Auto-DR), which is a significant enabling technology of the Smart Grid. Berkeley Lab has been leading a multi-year research program to demonstrate Auto-DR with California utilities funded by the California Energy Commission’s Public Interest Energy Research program.

An open-source version of OpenADR will be released early this summer. Under development by Utility Integration Solutions (UISOL), the open-source version will offer a Java-based Demand Response Automation Server (DRAS) that provides a lightweight platform for developing and testing OpenADR clients, complete end-to-end demonstrations, proof of concept testing, and capability for small scale deployments. The Open Source version will provide code examples and guidance for developing commercial-strength server products.

UISOL recently announced that they integrated OpenADR into their DRBizNet product, providing capability that allows utilities to automate all demand response business and operational processes.  

Products Based on OpenADR Introduced

The private sector has been introducing new hardware and software products incorporating OpenADR into the marketplace. Recent product announcements from such companies as Tendril, Residential Control Systems, BuLogics, and Our Home Spaces have expanded OpenADR into residential and small commercial applications.

Among these products are those that use USnap (Utility Smart Network Access Port)-standard modules with WiFi, and embedded OpenADR software clients. USnap is a utility industry initiative to create an interoperable communications card standard for connecting Home Area Network devices to smart meters.

Smart grid projects are underway in Quincy and Tallahasse, Florida that use OpenADR as the communications specification for automated demand response.  The utilities NVEnergy, (serving Nevada including Las Vegas, and northeastern California),  the Bonneville Power Administration (serving the Pacific Northwest), and the Sacramento Municipal Utility District have all identified OpenADR as the communications specification to follow in their Smart Grid plans.

OpenADR is part of a commercial building project by National Resources Canada, and the California Independent System Operator is conducting a project to integrate renewable resources into OpenADR. DRRC researchers at Berkeley Lab have also responded to interest from South Korea and India in using OpenADR in their Smart Grid planning.  
Control Solutions, Inc NIST, OpenADR, and National Smart Grid standards  

OpenADR technology was selected by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) as the basis for smart grid demand response communications over the Internet. NIST is developing a smart grid standards roadmap incorporating OpenADR.

“Many major controls companies, utilities and grid systems operators have deployed OpenADR based programs that reduce peak electric demand by tens of megawatts”, says Mary Ann Piette, the Research Director of the Demand Response Research Center at Berkeley Lab. “Honeywell’s acquisition of Akuacom is one of many recent developments that further solidifies OpenADR as a national standard and enables multiple vendors, utilities and ratepayers to deploy tens of billions of watts of automated demand response nationwide.”

Berkeley Lab and its private sector research partners, including Akuacom, developed OpenADR, an open and interoperable information exchange model, to make it easier for building owners and utilities to implement automated demand response (AutoDR) programs, and for private-sector companies to offer products in the marketplace for AutoDR. An open source version of the signaling infrastructure is currently under development. The OpenADR development efforts are led by Mary Ann Piette, the Deputy Head of the Building Technologies Department of Berkeley Lab’s Environmental Energy Technologies Division.

Honeywell is one of the largest building controls companies in the United States, and its products are widely used in both commercial and residential buildings. Akuacom is one of several companies offering software and hardware products that incorporate the OpenADR information exchange model. It started conducting research and field-testing with Berkeley Lab in 2005.

“The interest that the private sector is showing in OpenADR, and in Berkeley Lab’s automated demand response research generally, demonstrates that this technology is ready for broad adoption in the marketplace,” says Piette.

More about OpenADR at the Demand Response Research Center:

National Institute of Standards and Technology Smart Grid Roadmap:

Automated Demand Response research at Berkeley Lab:


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