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An introduction to IoT use cases in the energy market

House with large windows by night. Source: Bosch

The EEBUS initiative unites 70 companies in a common goal: to bring order to the fragmented energy market. To achieve this, these companies are jointly creating an open standard for controlling and managing IoT devices – a common language, if you will, that ensures seamless interoperability. Wondering what applications of this common language look like in practice? Let’s take a look!

Defining and validating EEBUS use cases

The goal of EEBUS is to implement a standard that is universally applicable. Only in this way can a truly common language for the energy market emerge. EEBUS has therefore defined a specification known as SPINE (Smart Premises Interoperable Neutral-message Exchange). This specification describes use cases that can be implemented across a wide range of technology platforms and communication paths.

The members of the EEBUS association define what these use cases look like and specify how they are supposed to work. They then validate the use cases in so called plug fests. These are events that bring together members of the EBBUS association in order to test the specification under live conditions. In other words, the plug fests are used as proof points to ensure interoperability between the devices of different vendors. Overall, this approach of defining and then validating ensures that the use cases are fully ready when companies want to implement them in IoT deployments.

EEBUS use cases: a closer look

As the various use cases show, the standard defined by EEBUS is mainly geared toward the energy and smart home markets. At present, implementation of this standard is focusing on four fields: e-mobility, HVAC, white goods, and the power grid. Inverter integration, extended battery management and more are to come. Generally speaking, the focus of the different use cases lies on monitoring and configuring different systems as well as energy management.

Standardized use cases for e-mobility

Electric car that is being charged at a charging station. Source: iStock/nrqemi

The rise of e-mobility is leading to changes in not only the automotive industry but also the energy sector. In the future, the question of how best to manage the recharging of electric vehicles will become a key issue. EEBUS has therefore defined a couple of use cases in regard to e-mobility.

Use cases in brief

  • Prioritizing self-generated power for vehicle recharging
  • Protecting against grid overload
  • Coordinating the recharging process

A simple one concerns overload protection. Charging an electric vehicle draws substantial power. This can become a problem when a lot of other devices are using electricity at the same time. To avoid overloading the system and blowing fuses, the power used for charging an electric vehicle can be automatically reduced, if need be.

EEBUS also describes a way of increasing efficiency by intelligently managing the charging process. Say you use a photovoltaic system to generate your own electricity. In this case, you will likely want to use this power to charge your vehicle, rather than drawing it from the public grid. This is something a connected system based on the EBBUS standard could enable. It would thereby give preference to the power generated by your photovoltaic system for charging your car.

EEBUS can also come into play when drawing electricity from the public grid. In this scenario, the recharging process can be coordinated with the energy provider. On the one hand, the energy provider can react to any signs of overloading. On the other hand, car owners can opt to recharge at off-peak times, saving money in the process.

Standardized use cases for HVAC

Setting the temperature of the air conditioner. Source: iStock/Igor Vershinsky

Heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning systems often draw a lot of power. In other words, smart management of their power consumption makes a lot of sense.

Use cases in brief

  • Monitoring HVAC systems
  • Configuring system functions
  • Smart start for off-peak use

For starters, a system based on the EEBUS standard would enable various monitoring use cases. For example, it would be possible to keep an eye on system functions and power consumption. You can also monitor temperatures – room temperature, for instance. Using this information, it would then be possible to make adjustments – again based on standardized use cases provided by EEBUS. These would allow you to configure the system settings – for example, switch the air conditioning on or off – or set the desired temperature.

A more sophisticated use case is called smart start. This is all about optimizing energy consumption and reducing costs in the process. It’s similar to the scenario described in relation to e-mobility, where the vehicle recharging process is coordinated with the energy provider. In this case, however, smart start would ensure that the HVAC system is only activated at off-peak times for producing, for example, hot water.

Standardized use cases for white goods

Kitchen with white and green furniture. Source: Bosch

The same smart start concept from the HVAC domain can also be used for white goods. For example, a dishwasher could be set to start at times when the power grid is less heavily utilized, thereby leading to reduced costs.

Use cases in brief

  • Smart start of appliances
  • Direct control of appliances

In addition to this time-based approach, there is also the option of direct control. In the event of grid issues, the utility company could ask your energy manager at home to increase or decrease energy consumption. The energy manager at home would then influence the energy consumption of, say, the fridge or freezer by increasing or decreasing temperature within a given bandwidth. In this way, load peaks could be balanced out.

Standardized use cases for the electricity grid

Smart meter on the wall. Source: iStock/adventtr

Use cases in brief

  • Monitoring photovoltaic systems
  • Monitoring home-battery status
  • Monitoring power-grid connection

EEBUS also defines a range of use cases that mainly have to do with monitoring different aspects of the electricity grid. These include an application to monitor power data at the point where the public grid feeds into the local network on your premises. This not only shows how much power is fed in but also provides an overview of overall power consumption.

At the same time, it is also possible to monitor the status of a home battery – for instance, its charge state. And if you have a photovoltaic system, you can also keep tabs on this and see, for example, how much energy it is currently producing.

More on EEBUS & industry standards

How standards like EEBUS make the make the energy transition a reality.

Take a closer look at the EEBUS initiative.

OSGi is taking up the cause of ensuring interoperability across a broad variety of devices. Kai Hackbarth explains.

Find out why OSGi and the IoT are a perfect match.