Washington State University is a partner in a grant to research, develop, and demonstrate technologies to create “smart” buildings, campuses, and cities to better manage energy use.

Once buildings and devices are smarter—managing energy resources optimally on their own—they also can be more responsive to the needs of the power grid.

WSU researchers in the Energy Systems Innovation Center are installing photovoltaic modules on the Pullman campus and integrating them into Pullman’s “smart city” test bed and WSU’s microgrid system.

Experiments will be designed to show how campus power generation can power critical city infrastructure in the event of a power outage. WSU will also develop strategies for sharing energy between its smart buildings and solar modules.

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is matching a $2.25 million Clean Energy Fund grant from the Washington Department of Commerce to support the work.

In what the DOE is calling a pioneering regional partnership for grid modernization, Washington will host a three campus demonstration of transaction-based energy management. This is the first time researchers will test the use of transactive controls at this scale involving multiple buildings and devices.

The idea is that equipment will make decisions and automatically adjust energy loads based on predetermined criteria related to energy prices, essential services, comfort levels, time of day, etc. The project is developing the mechanisms to make that happen with minimal human direction.

WSU, DOE’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, and the University of Washington are teaming on the effort, which builds on their involvement in the recently completed Pacific Northwest Smart Grid Demonstration Project.

The state is funding infrastructure for the project to establish an enduring test bed that will enable subsequent research. Once perfected, load flexibility available from smart buildings will help to better integrate nontraditional energy sources like wind and stationary battery power into the grid.

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