The current energy market suffers from structural inertia, characterized by prices that should follow a standard supply and demand mechanism. However, the market is not actually able to adapt to the rapid changes of the energy supply and demand.
On the one hand, energy supply rates fluctuate very rapidly (renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power are unpredictable); on the other hand, the demand for energy is uncontrollable, as the grid can be subjected to large load peaks that the market fails to mitigate or completely avoid. Imagine, for example, the moment in which people go home to recharge their electric cars.
The current electricity grid is still based on a centralized, inflexible management system for the supply and demand of energy. Nevertheless, the modern energy market is becoming increasingly dynamic and the current grid is not yet ready for a distributed energy market in which individual families cause peaks in the supply by generating their own solar power on a sunny day.
The INERTIA (Integrating Active, Flexible and Responsive Tertiary Prosumers into a Smart Distribution) project proposed an approach based on the "Internet of Things" to the problem of energy management.
Consumers gradually become "prosumers", families produce green energy, which they sell when they cannot use it and they buy more when the power generated is not enough. All these "prosumer hubs" become active (rather than passive nodes) and are equipped with the right technology to provide contextual information to the network.
In order to be able to share the energy, the various individuals involved must share information on the supply and demand. Having this kind of information network means knowing the supply and demand in real time and balancing the energy loads on the grid.
Engineering plays a key role in the project, identifying the users and business requirements, and consequently defining the role and positioning of INERTIA within the current business energy model. Engineering is also called on to define the energy, business, comfort and flexibility indicators (KPI) that determine the energy balance at both a local level (single building) and at the aggregated level (Virtual Power Plant).