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Research Highlights

VOLTTRON™ User Community Expands Overseas

Researchers at PNNL collaborate with South Korea-based institute to pursue energy-efficient neighborhood

September 2017
PNNL’s Clean Energy and Transactive Campus project

PNNL’s Clean Energy and Transactive Campus project is advancing the concept of using signals from power markets to create markets at campus and individual building levels. The resulting two-way communication and negotiation yields better management of energy consumption and lower energy cost, while maintaining building service levels, including occupant comfort, and enhancing grid reliability.

More than 5,000 miles away, across the Pacific Ocean, an institute in South Korea is working towards implementing PNNL’s original vision when they created VOLTTRON™.

VOLTTRON™, an innovative software platform for distributed control and sensing, was first developed at PNNL in 2012 as part of the Future Power Grid Initiative. The original development team envisioned an open-source product that would manage energy at the building, building cluster, and community level. Five years later, VOLTTRON™ is indeed an open-source product that benefits from an expanding user base, and it is now closer than ever to achieving its original goal.

At PNNL, researchers are successfully managing energy for a cluster of 12 buildings via VOLTTRON™ and through the Clean Energy and Transactive Campus (CETC) project. As PNNL looks to advance to the community level, the Korea Institute of Energy Research (KIER) looks to do the same in South Korea.

Two Partners; Two Ts

KIER’s role in South Korea is very similar to PNNL’s role in the United States, though on a smaller scale. The institute is headquartered in Daejeon, with research sites on Jeju Island—where they have a microgrid—and a few other locations. KIER has a testbed for energy management, similar to PNNL’s, that currently resides in a laboratory and office in their Green Building. KIER researchers want to expand this capability, beginning with an entire building and eventually managing energy for a community.

Representatives from KIER visited PNNL

Representatives from KIER visited PNNL, where they had several hands-on sessions to learn more about developing and deploying VOLTTRON™.

Front row: Young Gon Kim (Incheon National University), Yujin (Eugene) Song (KIER), Jereme Haack (PNNL), and Young Tae Noh (Inha University) Back row: Yoondong Sung (KIER), Seokho Kim (Chungbuck National University), Donghymn Seo (Chungbuk National University), Robert Lutes (PNNL), Gihwan Yoon (KIER), Uikyun Na (Incheaon National University), Kyle Monson (PNNL), and Craig Allwardt (PNNL)

“At KIER, we want to establish a zonal energy management system, where a network of sensors feed zones, which feed buildings, which feed into the community,” said Dr. Eugene Song, a senior researcher at KIER. “We can do this with VOLTTRON™.”

Recognizing that VOLTTRON™ is key to their success, KIER reached out to PNNL. Representatives from KIER and their university partners visited the Richland campus from July 31 to August 4. Several hands-on sessions expedited KIER’s familiarity with VOLTTRON™ code and the ability to apply the technology. KIER got to watch PNNL in action, and will apply what they learned to create a simulated South Korean neighborhood.

Continued development of VOLTTRON™ is funded by DOE’s Building Technologies Office. Work by PNNL for KIER is funded through a subcontract with KIER.

PNNL Research Team: Jereme Haack, Robert Lutes, Craig Allwardt, and Kyle Monson

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