UCLA and KIER create network platform for the smart grid

Korean and US researchers are collaborating on smart grid solutions that use wireless sensing and control systems.

The engineering department of the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) has entered into a 10-year partnership with the government-supported Korea Institute of Energy Research (KIER) in South Korea to develop new technologies with the aim of creating a more robust smart grid.

The UCLA WINSmartGrid is a network platform that allows electrically operated machines and appliances, such as plug-in electric vehicles (EVs), washers, dryers and air conditioners, to be wirelessly monitored, connected and controlled through a wireless communications framework.

The technology connects the machines and smart meters to the WINSmartGrid web service, which receives real-time feeds from utilities and external sources on the price of power at any time of day and other information. Control signals can subsequently be sent via the WINSmartGrid network, which in turn can dynamically control various appliances in real time.

‘We’re also working on being able to send a signal for electricity to flow back into the grid, be it energy that has been collected by solar panels or electricity that has been stored in the batteries of EVs,’ said project lead Rajit Gadh of UCLA.

Gadh’s team is using the UCLA campus as an experimental lab in which to observe how wireless sensing and control systems can help create the smart grid. Meanwhile, in UCLA’s Parking Structure 9, located next to the retrofitted engineering buildings, the team has installed two EV charging stations with devices that collect and wirelessly transmit data about electricity usage back to his lab.

As part of Korea’s effort, the country launched a national demonstration project in 2009 with the construction of a smart grid testbed on Jeju Island. The testbed will become the world’s largest smart grid community, allowing the testing of the most advanced technologies.

’[UCLA] is good at developing the software and platform, while KIER is strong in various renewable energy technologies, such as solar, wind and fuel cells,’ said Tae Hyun Yang, KIER’s principal researcher.