DEMAND Project: A Proposal for a Bottom-Up Aggregation Platform

By M. Cacioppo, G. Zizzo, M. G. Ippolito, R. Musca, E. Riva Sanseverino, M. Mammina, D. Arnone

In many countries, a great number of electricity market operators have developed Demand Response (DR) programs with different purposes. In this framework, load aggregation represents an important issue, linked to the potential that the coordinated management of distributed resources has on affecting power systems’ operation. The Aggregator is the main actor in this scenario. It assumes different roles and relationships with the other actors of a Smart Grid and represents a mediator between the end-users and the DSO/TSO or the electricity market manager.

DEMAND is an Italian research project, funded within the framework of the Research on Electrical Power System program, that proposes a new way for managing the aggregation of prosumers connected to the distribution network. The novelty of DEMAND is the absence of the physical Aggregator, and the presence of a so-called Virtual Aggregation Environment (VAE). The VAE is a virtual platform for the exchange of information among the prosumers in a Smart Grid, designed for allowing them to combine their flexibility with a Bottom-Up approach, and provide services to the DSO.

Every single prosumer participating to DEMAND needs an energy gateway, in which is installed the Energy Management System (EMS) software that evaluates the prosumer flexibility and optimizes the local resources both technically and economically, and external communications devices for establishing a contact with the VAE. Both EMS and VAE represent the key components of DEMAND, exchanging data continuously in order to allow the aggregation between prosumers.

The system operation comprises four phases:

  • Configuration phase
  • Day-ahead management phase
  • Intra-day management phase
  • Real-time operation phase

During the configuration phase, local resources are identified and characterized to provide flexibility. Then, for each prosumer, a forecasting of its electricity consumption is performed. At the end of the process, this information is stored by the EMS and represents the inputs of Phase 2.

The day-ahead management phase consists of the following steps:

  • The DSO sends the VAE a request of the desired power value in a given time interval of the day after
  • The VAE sends this information to EMSs
  • Each EMS, receiving the information coming from VAE, calculates and sends back to the VAE all the possible flexibility values that the prosumer can offer in the required time interval, specifying the price of each offer and the devices involved. The price represents the tariff that the prosumer wants to receive for the provided service and it is mainly linked to the economic value that the prosumer gives to the discomfort associated to the modification of his electrical power consumption. For the flexibility offers that involve an electrical storage, the prosumer takes into account the degradation cost of the storage system
  • The VAE calculates a list of possible clusters of prosumers, using cooperative and competitive algorithms. At the end of the process, the aggregated offers of flexibility are ordered on the basis of the maximum compliance with the DSO demand and taking into account the reliability of each prosumer
  • The DSO chooses the best offer and the winner cluster will provide the requested service
  • The EMS of each prosumer belonging to the winner cluster uploads the forecasted power profile, taking into account of the modification due to the flexibility offer and considering a load shift action
  • The EMS of each prosumer belonging to the winner cluster uploads the values of flexibility that have been sent to the VAE, by setting to zero the flexibility associated to the devices involved in the winner offer. This action has the aim to minimize the prosumers’ discomfort, avoiding their participation to other winner clusters with the same devices

Once close to the time interval in which the cluster has to provide the promised flexibility, one or more prosumers become aware that they are not able to produce the planned power variation, the intra-day management phase begins. In this phase, if the winner cluster is no more able to satisfy the request from the DSO, a new cluster will be chosen.

Finally, in the Real-time operation phase, and according to a specific priority order defined by each prosumer to minimize his discomfort while providing the requested flexibility, each EMS manages their local resources to provide the promised flexibility to the DSO.

At the end of the process the DSO communicates to the VAE the real effect obtained by the aggregation and the value of the remuneration that will be proportional to the actual power variation provided by the cluster.

The DEMAND project has just entered its last year and is in the demonstration-development phase that will be concluded on March 2020.


 For a downloadable copy of November 2019 eNewsletter which includes this article, please visit the IEEE Smart Grid Resource Center.


>Michele Cacioppo

Michele Cacioppo was born in Brescia in 1994. In 2017 he received his Bachelor's Degree in Energy Engineering at the University of Palermo. In 2019 he got his M.Sc in Electrical Engineering at the same University. He developed a Master's experimental thesis on the topic of Demand Response and load aggregation.

Gaetano Zizzo

Gaetano Zizzo is Assistant Professor at the Engineering Department of the University of Palermo. He got his M.Sc. and Ph. D. degrees in Electrical Engineering at the University of Palermo in 2002 and 2006, respectively. Since 2007 he is working with the Power System group of the Engineering Department at the same University and in 2014 he qualified as associate professor in the sector 09/E2, electrical energy systems. He teaches “Power Systems: components and installations” for the students of the Bachelor Course in Electrical Engineering and “Power Electronics” for the students of the M. Sc. Course in Electrical Engineering. He is currently serving as Associate Editor for IEEE Access and as Secretary of the IEEE Italy Section.

Mariano Giuseppe Ippolito

Mariano Giuseppe Ippolito received the Doctor degree in Electrical Engineering in 1990 (magna cum laude) and the Ph.D. in 1994 from the University of Palermo (Italy). Since 1995 to 2001, he worked as an Assistant Professor and Research Collaborator of the Power System Group at the Department of Electrical, Electronic and Telecommunications Engineering, Chemical technologies, Automation and Mathematical models (DIEETCAM) of the University of Palermo. He entered in service at the University of Palermo as Associate Professor in 2001. Now he is Full Professor of Power Systems at the Department of Engineering, where he has been teaching Fundamentals of Power Systems from 2000 to date and Power Transmission Systems from 2005. Instructor at several Master Courses (post grade) organized by the University of Palermo in 2006 and 2011. He was tutor professor of numerous Ph.D. students.

Rossano Musca

Rossano Musca obtained his M.S. degree and his Ph.D. degree in Electrical Engineering in 2007 and 2010, respectively, from the University of Palermo, Italy. From 2011 to 2017 he was working with Busarello + Cott + Partner AG as responsible of the Dynamic Analysis module of NEPLAN. Since 2018 he is Post Doc Fellow at the Engineering Department of the University of Palermo. His current research interests include power systems design, frequency regulation and stability analysis.

Eleonora Riva Sanseverino

Eleonora Riva Sanseverino graduated in Electrical Engineering in 1996 and received her PhD in February 2000 from the University of Palermo. After a short period as a permanent researcher at the Palermo branch of the High Performance Network Calculation Institute (ICAR) of the National Research Council, she passed the Associate position national selection in 2002. She entered in service at the University of Palermo as Associate Professor in 2002. In 2012 she qualified as full professor in the sector 09/E2, electrical energy systems. Since 2012, every year, she is invited professor in the industrial and international PhD school at Aalborg University, DK. At the University of Palermo, she teaches ‘Smart grids’, ‘Power components and systems’ and ‘Home and Building automation systems’.

Marzia Mammina

Marzia Mammina received her Degree in Electronic and Telecommunications Engineering from the University of Palermo (Italy). She received a post-degree certification in software design from the Archimede Consortium (University of Catania, IBM Semea, Finsiel). She have provided consultancy services at Engineering Ingegneria Informatica S.p.A since 2013. She has been in charge of the analysis and the design of the technological framework and of the business analysis for the interaction of next generation Data Centres with the energy infrastructure of a Smart City in the context of GEYSER (Green nEtworked Data Centres as EnergY ProSumErs in smaRt city environments) European research project, for the transformation of data centers into multi-energy hubs in the context of CATALYST (Converting data centers into energy flexibility ecosystems) European research project, and, among other projects, for the Energy Consumption Awareness in the contex of the ENERGETIC (Tecnologie per l’ENERGia e l’Efficienza energeTICa) Italian research projects. She is currently involved in the software design and business analysis for the DEMAND (DistributEd MANagement logics and Devices for electricity savings in active users installations) project.

Diego Arnone

Diego Arnone is Senior Researcher for Engineering Ingegneria Informatica. His main research interest is for energy efficiency, energy consumption awareness and energy management systems. He has been working as team leader and project manager in many Italian and European research projects. Today he is Coordinator of the H2020 CATALYST project (Converting DCs in Energy Flexibility Ecosystems) and WP leader in the H2020 STORE&GO project (Innovative large-scale energy STOragE technologies AND Power-to-Gas concepts after Optimisation) and in H2020 MAGNITUDE project (Bringing flexibility provided by multi energy carrier integration to a new MAGNITUDE). He is the Scientific Coordinator of the Italian DEMAND project (DistributEd MANagement logics and Devices for electricity savings in active users installations). He is author of many scientific papers published on many conference proceedings and journals. He has been serving the European Commission (Information Society and media ICT for Sustainable Growth) as Scientific Expert in the evaluation of proposals.

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