Adopting the Smart Grid in Three Crucial European Sectors

Written by Luigi Glielmo and José-Fernán Martinez Ortega

The European e-GOTHAM project aims at developing open source smart energy management middleware for controlling and monitoring prosumers' energy consumption and production, through a behavior-driven and context-aware decision approach. It will be implemented in three pilots, in the industrial, services and residential sectors.

The European Union (EU) is well aware of the strategic importance that research in embedded systems will have on crucial technological, industrial, academic, urban, agricultural and energy enterprises of society today and in the future. Embedded systems will be relevant in countless application domains, with the smart grid being one of the most significant ones on its merits.

In 2004, conscious of the need to establish synergy between the public and privative sectors to obtain important and applicable innovative results, the EU launched the ARTEMIS Joint Technology Initiative (JTI) with the aim of putting Europe at the forefront of embedded systems technology. It is within this context that our e-GOTHAM (sustainable-smart Grid Open system for THe Aggregated control, monitoring and Management of energy) project was conceived. With a budget of €7 million (about US $10 million), it addresses two of the eight ARTEMIS sub-programs, specifically "ASP7, embedded technology for sustainable urban life" and "ASP3, embedded systems in smart environments."

The e-GOTHAM concept focuses on the transition from today's power systems to those in the future. Today's electrical systems consist of a relatively small number of large-scale energy production plants connected via a high-voltage grid to local electric distribution systems, which serve residential, commercial and industrial sectors. The flow of energy is mainly in one direction, from producers to consumers.

In the future, large-scale power system energy production plants will be complemented by medium-scale and massively distributed renewable energy generation and energy storage components across the whole power grid. To integrate, monitor and control these distributed energy resources into the power system, e-GOTHAM will enable two-way information and energy flows.

e-GOTHAM assumes the overall power grid is divided into localized microgrids, which can take actions on the elements they contain and operate in cooperation with the core power grid. Hence, in the e-GOTHAM concept, the overall management of the microgrid will be carried out by the cooperation of a microgrid central controller and a number of local controllers (embedded systems running near or integrated into the microgrid elements). All work "on-line," assessing measurements taken in real-time from embedded systems or other sources (such as web services, consumers and billing systems). However, the timespan in which the central controller and local controller make their decisions is different. The central controller's optimization algorithms will give their output periodically (for example, every 60 minutes), while the local controllers will be permanently "ready" to react to sudden and unforeseen changes in system conditions. Embedding part of the intelligence, or decision-making capabilities, near the microgrid elements is seen as a core part of the project to ensure real-time measurements and to increase robustness and scalability.

The e-GOTHAM software platform is based on an open layered service and information oriented architecture that integrates and provides seamless connectivity among the micro-grid data information model, the decision making mechanism, and smart grid services and applications needs, including control, monitoring and management. The architectural approach interprets the different business semantics of the various software components in a common way, in order to carry out smart grid activities in an efficient and cost-effective manner by defining an open and shared semantic common information model. This information-driven perspective reduces integration cost, increases development efficiency and overall system flexibility, and fulfils future application and service requirements not currently possible with traditional architectural approaches.

The e-GOTHAM information model adds event generation and processing capabilities (aggregation, correlation, pattern modelling and detection). This allows developing context-aware innovative applications to tackle highly heterogeneous environments and systems, allowing cohabitation and cooperation among them. Cognitive capacities by means of semantic methods for making decisions will be provided, which take into account the non-functional requirements, at the application level, of devices with low capabilities. This approach allows design and implementation of complex and powerful distributed semantic reasoning engines by means of a semantic middleware that will be able to infer autonomously over almost any situation arising at any level of the system.

The project will define and implement the e-GOTHAM complete solution for a microgrid in a residential microgrid (serving the community of Steinkjer in Norway), a service microgrid (feeding energy and water-based district heating to a number of community buildings in the Finnish town of Ylivieska), and an industrial microgrid (managed by the energy company Enemont providing energy to Mataluni, a food oil company in Montesarchio, Italy). These three kinds of microgrids comprise different configurations of loads, distributed generators, and energy storage components.

The e-GOTHAM Consortium consists of seventeen partners from four EU countries (Spain, Italy, Estonia and Finland) and Norway:


The authors gratefully acknowledge the help of their colleagues Carmen Del Vecchio and Alessandra Parisio from Università del Sannio, and Ana-Belén García-Hernando from Universidad Politécnica de Madrid.



l glielmo

Luigi Glielmo, an IEEE senior member, holds a master degree in electronics engineering and a research doctorate in automatic control, both earned at Università di Napoli Federico II in 1986 and 1990, respectively. He was head of the engineering department at the University of Sannio from 2001 to 2007. Before that, he taught at the University of Palermo and the University of Naples Federico II. His current research interests include singular perturbation methods, model predictive control methods, automotive controls, deep brain stimulation modeling and control, and smart-grid control.

jf martinezortega

José-Fernán Martínez-Ortega is an associate professor in the Department of Engineering and Telematic Architectures at the Technical University of Madrid (UPM), which he joined as a faculty member in 1997. He received his Ph.D. in telematic engineering from UPM in 2001. From 1993 to 1996, he worked at the National Telecommunications Company in Colombia (TELECOM) where he managed several research projects, and he was the technical manager of his own company, S&H Ltda. His main areas of interest and expertise are new services for wireless sensor networks and internet of things, ubiquitous computing, service management, advanced telecom services, advanced software architectures, component-based distributed applications and telematic services for Internet new generation.