nPlug: An Autonomous Peak Load Controller

Tuesday, April 30, 2013
7:00 PM
Free and open to the public

The Indian electricity sector, despite having the world's fifth largest installed capacity, suffers from a 12.9% peaking shortage. This shortage could be alleviated, if a large number of deferrable loads, particularly the high powered ones, could be moved from on-peak to off-peak times. However, conventional Demand Side Management (DSM) strategies may not be suitable for India as the local conditions usually favor inexpensive solutions with minimal dependence on the pre-existing infrastructure. In this work, we present a completely autonomous DSM controller called the nPlug.

nPlug is positioned between the wall socket and deferrable load(s) such as water heaters, washing machines, and electric vehicles. nPlugs combine local sensing and analytics to infer peak periods as well as supply-demand imbalance conditions. They schedule attached appliances in a decentralized manner to alleviate peaks whenever possible without violating the requirements of consumers. nPlugs do not require any manual intervention by the end consumer nor any communication infrastructure nor any enhancements to the appliances or the power grids.

Some of nPlug's capabilities are demonstrated using experiments on a combination of synthetic and real data collected from plug-level energy monitors.

Our results indicate that nPlug can be an effective and inexpensive technology to address the peaking shortage. This technology could potentially be integrated into millions of future deferrable loads: appliances, electric vehicle (EV) chargers, heat pumps, water heaters, etc.

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Tanuja Ganu

Research Software Engineer
IBM Research - India