Intelligent household appliances for intelligent electrical grids

Innovation project: Energy management in smart grids

The electrical supply in Germany is currently provided by a few high-capacity power stations which adapt their electrical production to fluctuations in consumption throughout the day. However, due to the growing proportion of renewable sources, energy production is becoming increasingly difficult to control, potentially resulting in electrical surpluses or shortages. In the future, demand will therefore need to adapt to the fluctuating supply. This is made possible by intelligent electrical grids, called smart grids, which network energy generators and consumers and allow supply and demand to be synchronized. However, there is a lack of household appliances that can respond to the dynamic conditions in smart grids.

The aim of the project is to develop flexible household appliances based on the example of a washer-dryer which autonomously adapts its processes in response to fluctuations in the availability and price of electricity. An additional development is an innovative energy management system for private households. It determines the best energy consumption, costs and time – automatically and conveniently for the customer.

Smart grid conditions, such as variations in electrical availability and different tariffs, are modeled to determine their effects on the running of household appliances. The next step is to develop intelligent energy management software that enables various appliances in a household to be optimized in different ways, such as for energy consumption, cost or comfort. Physical models are used to develop a process-flexible washer-dryer that uses control engineering and a variety of technologies to autonomously adapt its operational state to the conditions of the smart grid. Demonstration models of this and the energy management system are created, tested and finally implemented. The project draws on the results of cross-sectional projects in self-optimization, energy efficiency and systems engineering.

The project illustrates how household appliances can respond to smart grid conditions and autonomously optimize their energy management. Combining intelligent software with energy-efficient technologies, such as heat accumulators, should reduce energy consumption by around 40% and simultaneously improve user comfort. The results can be transferred to other household appliances and to more complex consumer structures such as apartment buildings and industrial establishments.

Project duration
01 July 2013 - 30 June 2016