AIC Research Group, University of Southampton

AIC Research Group

Intelligent Energy Systems

Meeting the challenge of cutting greenhouse-gas emissions and ensuring energy security requires radical changes in the ways in which energy is generated, distributed and consumed.

Central to this change is the vision of the smart grid – anelectricity network in which information flows freely between consumers andsuppliers, and demand adapts in real-time in response to the continuously changing supply from intermittent renewable sources.

The decentralized nature of the smart grid, and the autonomous intelligent behaviour expected of it, is increasingly leading power-systemsengineers to turn to novel information- and communication-technology approaches to understand how to build and control this new grid. In particular, the field of multi-agent systems offers a rich set of techniques, algorithms and methodologies for building distributed systems in which desirable system-wide properties can be assured, despite the autonomous (and perhaps self-interested) actions of the component parts (here individual homes and businesses making their own decisions about energy generation and consumption).

Researchers within AIC have been at the forefront of the application of multi-agent systems in future energy systems such as the smart grid. Work to date has addressed areas as diverse as the coordination of energy storage, the pricing of electric vehicle charging, the formation of virtual power plants, and the development of personal energy assistants that can advise on and automate home energy use.