Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Fast Demand Response: ColorPower 2.0

I'm quite happy to take the cap off of this paper: at long last, the paper on the ColorPower 2.0 paper, Fast Precise Distributed Control for Energy Demand Management, is officially published, and I can put it up as well.  The pictures have been up before, in these two posts, and now you can learn all the key ideas about how we're doing our distributed energy management.

This builds on the prior work from Vinayak Ranade's thesis and paper in SASO 2010, where we showed that fast distributed control of energy demand was possible.  The controller we used in that paper was terrible, though, and we acknowledged that right there in the paper---it just wasn't the focus then, and we hadn't had a chance to study that aspect of the problem well.

Over the last year, however, first my colleague Jeff Berliner at BBN figured out the right representation for understanding the control problem, and then I was able to turn that into an algorithm to actually do the control correctly.  Together, and with the help of Kevin Hunter, we refined it into the shining gem presented in this paper: the ColorPower 2.0 algorithm (can you tell I'm excited about it?).  We simulated it at all sorts of scales, with all sorts of problems, and it always stands up well---and better, matches our theoretical predictions nicely too.  Plus the experiments produce beautiful looking figures like these, showing the convergence and quiescence times of the algorithm for abrupt changes of target:
The bottom line: we've got a system that should be able to shape the energy consumption of millions of consumer devices in only a few dozen seconds.  Now we just have to get it out of the lab and into the field. Come talk to us if you want to use it, though, since it's also protected by patents...
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