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A humanized electricity grid

Man in front of a brick building with a paper in his hand.
Lorenz Payonga, doctoral student at KTH’s Department of Energy Technology, is involved in the PARMENIDES project.
Published May 06, 2024

Can you combine the requirements from the electricity grid and the needs from the consumers? Researchers at KTH will combine multiple energy storage technologies with insights from human behavior, thereby contributing to a more flexible energy system across the EU. The result? More stable energy prices and a less vulnerable electricity grid.

As renewable energy sources like wind and solar power become more prevalent, they present new challenges. For the end-users: how to access clean and affordable energy. For the grid operators: how to manage the intermittency without exceeding electrical infrastructure limitations. An international effort involving researchers at KTH aims to tackle this topic.

“We need flexible systems that respond to the needs and constraints of the grid, with the least impact on the priorities of end-users,” explains Lorenz Payonga , doctoral student at KTH’s Department of Energy Technology.

The project, PARMENIDES , aims to develop an energy management system (EMS) tailored for so-called hybrid energy storage systems (HESS) for energy communities. Since energy communities primarily involve residential customers, the human behavioral aspect will be accounted for in the system.

An EMS is a combination of software and hardware that enables control, automation, and optimization of energy supply, energy use, and storage. There’s much to gain from the continuous improvement of EMSs, according to Lorenz:

“At the grid level, this can reduce network congestion, stabilize energy prices, and improve the overall efficiency of power plants. At the building level, this has the potential to reduce total energy consumption and costs.”

While batteries are often the first thought, there are a variety of energy storage technologies available, including thermal energy storage systems, and even the buildings themselves. Each technology has different response times and capabilities suited for different needs.

“We’ll be mapping out response times of different technologies and run different use cases and scenarios here at KTH.”

The key innovation of the PARMENIDES project lies in its holistic approach to energy management. At KTH Live-in-Lab , the researchers will observe human behavior and preferences to understand how users make decisions about their energy consumption and what factors influence their choice between price, comfort, or environmental impact. The result will end up as an algorithm embedded in the EMS, which will be evaluated and iterated in a controlled laboratory setting with a HESS at the Department of Energy Technology.

The EMS system will be used within energy communities, which are citizen-driven entities recognized by the EU but not yet fully implemented in Sweden.

“When small electricity consumers band together to participate in the energy market as a single entity, they can provide flexibility services to the grid.”

“It is an interesting challenge when you have a complex system like this. The system’s dynamics and the interaction between different components and more importantly the conflicting objectives makes the problem quite challenging. Our focus will be to find the trade-offs where everybody can win in the future energy systems,” adds Hatef Madani , associate professor and project leader for the Swedish pilot.

Text and photo: Anna Gullers,