Smart grid and IOTA — Self balancing grid with smart transformers and smart devices

The proof of concept of a fully decentralized autonomous balancing smart grid running on IOTA

Introduction to our vision

In 2017 when we started to develop the Electric Vehicle charger that was solely using IOTA as a payment solution and communication solution, and in beginning 2018 when we created the world’s first IOTA Smart Charging station we already had in mind that this charger was only one part of the vision we had in mind.

How could this work in the grid

That’s where the IOTA Charge Station comes in. Since the IOTA Charge Station is a machine, and allows for machine to machine communication with the car, it could also communicate with ‘the grid’. The grid in our case will be all connecting devices to a certain part of the grid, and the transformer supplying energy to that part of the grid. Usually a transformer has 1 feeding cable and multiple outgoing cables, to each outgoing cable multiple homes and other devices (like public charging stations) are connected.

  1. We choose a different starting point for our engineering: The sun lays a layer of raw, abundant and free energy, everywhere. Also on your roof. 1500 times the amount of energy you need. And You need the energy 1,5 m below in you socket.
  2. We would change the rules. You no longer have to pay for units of energy. As long as you do not pass the threshold of the system (using for example the free abundant energy) energy is free. As soon when-by accident you force the system to operate beyond the threshold, to transport, generate, convert or store energy you’d have to pay.

The technical steps

To demonstrate the above mentioned smart charging solution based on IOTA, we aimed on building a device that is interactive, transparent and easy to use. We designed and built a demonstrator that consists of 5 devices showing data and behaviour based on information retrieved from the IOTA tangle.

Overview of the data flow and decision making in the proof of concept
Screenshot of the visual representation of the transformer in the demo
Screenshot of the visual representation of one of the virtual charging stations in the demo
A bundle in IOTA (screenshot from TheTangle.org)

Hindsight

Learning about new technology was our main goal for this project. We set the scope for the project and made a bunch of decisions. It is safe to say we learned a lot!

The lessons learned

To answer the question we raised in the beginning of the blog if such a system could work, short answer: Yes, definitely!

Recommendations

We have a few recommendations for people wanting to continue with this project:

  • Extend the charging station behavior: at this moment the charging station will always do what the transformer asks for. This is probably not how things would go in a real world situation, but we left it out of scope for now.
  • Add other actors into the grid: right now we only have virtual charging stations but it would be nice to see battery’s, PV and households being added to see how this could work.
  • Replace old IOTA library for new one: we believe new is always better in this case. Using the new library might solve some issues.

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Harm van den Brink

Harm van den Brink

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Cyber security, smart grids, electric vehicles, distributed ledger technology, hardware. Owner of Innoshift B.V. Articles on personal title.