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Cycle 5 (2015 Deadline)

Towards Smart Microgrids: Renewable Energy Integration into Smart Buildings

PI: Mohamed Riduan Abid (, Alakhawayn University
Co-PI Mohamed Bakhouya (, International University of Rabat and Khalid Zinedine (IUR), University Chouaib Doukkali 
U.S. Partner: Driss Benhaddou, University of Houston
Project Dates: December 2016 - November 2021

Project Overview:

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Energy-Efficient HPC (High Performance Computing) Raspberry-PIs Cluster developed  at AUI. Photo credit Dr. Abid.
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The Smart and Energy-Efficient Building at Alakhawayn University in Ifrane (AUI) site. 
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Dr. Abid and his PhD students October 2020. Photo courtesy of Dr. Abid
The first prototype of the USAID-NI Lab at Alakhawayn University. Photo courtesy of Dr. Abid
The PV panels as well as the wind turbine installed on the EEBLab platform. Photo credit: co-PI Mohamed Bakhouya
The AFRIKATATERRE platform. Photo credit: co-PI  Mohamed Bakhouya
Besides being a global concern, energy efficiency is growing as a potential market with very promising development and environmental impacts. Smart Grids (SGs) promote energy efficiency in electrical grids, mainly via the integration of renewable energy (thus minimizing greenhouse gas emissions) and via the leveraging of Information and Communication Technology (ICT). ICT is a key element in the optimization of the Demand/Response (DR) variance, which stipulates a real-time dissemination of data between SG components, namely, smart meters at the production site (i.e., renewable energy sources), sensors measuring electricity consumption at the consumer site, and actuators. The interconnection of these components needs a reliable network: the Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI).

This project will leverage energy efficiency in smart buildings by promoting “context awareness” whereby the switching on and off of electrical appliances will be based on the context, i.e., temperature, number of people in rooms, humidity, light, and so forth.

To this end, these researchers plan to deploy a holistic platform that implements a real-world microgrid testbed at a building on the Alakhawayn University campus. The deployed smart microgrid model will be promoted for deployment by other organizations at the national level, especially since Morocco is adopting a promising policy for renewable energy integration. In the medium term, the team hopes to promote this technology in sub-Saharan countries as well, given Morocco's geographical location. Supporting research in renewable energy can foster the growth of the green economy in Morocco and in the longer term create job opportunities for Moroccan youth.

The project intends to have a positive impact in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, in line with USAID's Global Climate Change and Development Strategy. It is also in line with a Moroccan national initiative to promote renewable energy development.

Final Summary of Project Activities by AUI PEER Team

The main output of this project by AUI team has been the establishment and deployment a Smart Grids Testbed at Alakhawayn University in Ifrane (AUI), According to project PI Dr. Abid, it, is the sole Smart Grids testbed/lab of its kind in Morocco. The testbed was deployed in Solarium Lab in Building 7 of AUI and was given the name of "NAS-USAID Smart Grids Lab". The lab is operational and the deployed architecture and acquired knowledge will be further tweaked by recently recruited PhD students who will continue their research at the lab. Currently, the  PEER team are negotiating with governmental agencies regarding funding to deploy and test this technology in the city of Ifrane and in the region.. PEER team’s PhD student Bouali Ettaibi is determined to build a start up in the field, while another PhD student Safae Bourhnane who has been very engaged in this PEER project successfully defended her PhD thesis in December 2021 and thanks to her active involvement was offered a Lecturer's Position at Alakhawayn University. 
Final Summary of Project Activities by IUR PEER team  

The team members at Chouaib Doukkali University (UCD) and the International University of Rabat (UIR) collaborated since the first year of MIGRID project with the main aim to achieve the assigned tasks, while supporting involved PhD students, Sofia Boulmrharj and Abdellatif El Mouatamid, in finalizing their theses work. The team members developed and deployed a holistic and hybrid approach that takes into consideration three major aspects of the building, including passive building’s systems (e.g., envelope), active building’s systems (e.g., HVAC, ventilation), and the integration of renewable energy sources (e.g., PV panels, thermal panels, wind turbines) and storage devices, such as batteries, hot water tanks, hydrogen storage as well as its equipment, mainly hydrogen electrolyzer and fuel cell for cogeneration in buildings. The main aim of this holistic approach was to minimize the buildings’ energy consumption (i.e., electrical and thermal energy) and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions while maintaining a suitable occupants’ comfort. The team first deployed the EEBLab (a small Energy Efficient Building Laboratory) in order to validate in real-life scenarios the developed strategies. For large-scale deployment, and with the aim to exploit and disseminate our know-how knowledge gained in the framework of this PEER project, the team participated in the Solar Decathlon Africa (SDA) competition, which was held in Ben Guerir from 21st August to 27th September 2019, together with other students from the UIR, the Technische Hochschule Lübeck (THL) and a consortium of academic of Dakar. The team designed, constructed and deployed a smart and energy efficient house, named AFRIKATATERRE. Solar Decathlon Africa  also presented an opportunity for the team’s members to test and deploy on a large scale (i.e., in a real house) the technologies, approaches and platforms developed in the course of the project. During the SDA competition,  visitors, including private companies,  local USAID officials, funding agencies, policy and decision makers, visited the house where the team presented all deployed solutions. The AFRIKATATERRE house won the first prize in the  Architecture contest and the second prize in the sustainability contest. All SDA houses are currently grouped together to create the green and smart building park.
Ph.D students S. Boulmrharj and A. ElMouatamid defended their Ph.D theses. Sofia’s thesis work was conducted between UIR and UCD under the supervision of M. Khaidar (UCD), K. Zinedine (UCD), R. Ouladsine (UIR), and M. Bakhouya (UIR), while Abdellatif’s thesis work was conducted under the supervision of N. Elkamoun (UCD), K. Zinedine (UCD), R. Ouladsine (UIR), and M. Bakhouya (UIR).

The project helped its involved members (Ph.D., Master, and Undergraduate Students) via training, scholarship, and meeting events to exchange ideas and results related to the project concepts and its related technologies. Mainly, the training activities, to exploit the exchange of research and technological skills, were performed through the mechanisms of joint undergraduate/Master/PhD program and its related events, such as open days and seminars, new courses, job fairs.

The team also capitalized on many projects, mainly CASANET project, funded by CNRST (2016-2020), and PROPRE project (PROductivité Photovoltaïque à l’échelle REgionale dans tout le Maroc), financially supported by IRESEN, InnoPV.13 (2013-2018). For instance, the PROPRE project involved 21 university centers from 14 Moroccan universities. Its main objective was to map the productivity of three different photovoltaic panels (mono, poly and amorphous) throughout the whole country. In addition, the team members established new research directions (i.e., new funding), which targets energy efficiency solutions for smart buildings including the electromobility and the integration of other sources (e.g., biomass) and storage systems (e.g., GES). In other words, thanks to the PEER project, we have formed a team and acquired skills in the development of technological platforms that can be leveraged into other projects and applications, such as smart agriculture and electromobility (e.g., the PSA OpenLab@Morocco).

The PEER project helped promote career development of the involved members. For instance, Dr. S. Boulmrharj and Dr. A. El Mouatamid are still working with the team, but as Postdoctoral researchers under other funded projects. Prof. Khalid Zinedine is currently affiliated to the Mohammed V University (UM5) in Rabat and continues working with the team. Prof. Mohammed Khaidar got retired and he is still active by establishing his personal project, which focuses mainly on the integration of renewable energy sources in agricultural applications. Prof. Mohamed Bakhouya was nominated, since Sept. 2018, as the director of the LERMA Lab (Renewable Energies and Advanced Materials Lab) at the UIR. An extensive collaboration between Prof. M. Siniti (UCD), Prof. N. ElKamoun (UCD), Prof R. Ouladsine (UIR) and Prof. M. Bakhouya (UIR) was established in the field of storage devices (e.g., hydrogen, battery) together with their efficient integration into smart buildings.The co-PI's team's experience and gained skills will be leveraged to enrich, with new research directions (R&D), the two platforms (EEBLab, and AFRIKATATERRE) and hopefully the AUI's (Al Akhawayn University in Ifrane) Micro-grid syste

Peer Reviewed Publications:
  • E. Bouali, MR Abid, E. Boufounas,  T. Abu Hamed, D. Benhaddou, “Renewable Energy Integration into Cloud & IoT-based Smart Agriculture”, accepted / to appear in IEEE Access, 2021 (DOI: 10.1109/ACCESS.2021.3138160)
  • A. Oujja, MR Abid, J. Boumhidi, S. Bourhnane, A. Mourhir, F. Merchant. D. Benhaddou , “HPC (High-Performance Computing) for SARS-COV-2 RNAs Clustering: a Data Science based Genomics Approach”, accepted / to appear in Genomics & Informatics Journal, 2021
  • S Bourhnane, MR Abid, K Zine-dine, N Elkamoun, D Benhaddou, “Cluster of Single-Board Computers at the Edge for Smart Grids Applications” Applied Sciences 11 (22), 10981, 2021
  • N Naji, MR Abid, N Krami, D Benhaddou, “Energy-Aware Wireless Sensor Networks for Smart Buildings: A Review”, Journal of Sensor and Actuator Networks 10 (4), 67, 2021
  • MR. Abid, D. Benhaddou, “Deploying Smart Micro Grids for Researchers: a Practical Approach”, IEEE ISIE (The 30th International Symposium on Industrial Electronics), Kyoto, Japan, 2021
PEER reviewed journal articles:

[5] El Ibrahimi, M., Khay, I., El Maakoul, A., Moussa, M. O., Barkaoui, A., & Bakhouya, M. (2020). Anaerobic co-digestion in a liquid recirculation pilot-scale reactor: Thermal and hydraulic study. Energy Reports, 6, 496-502.

[10] Elmouatamid, A., Ouladsine, R., Bakhouya, M., El kamoun, N., Zine-Dine, K., & Khaidar, M. (2020). Review of Control and Energy Management Approaches in Micro-Grid Systems. In Smart Grids and Microgrids. Energies, to appear

[11] S. Boulmrharj, Y. NaitMalek, A. El Mouatamid, M. Bakhouya, R. Ouladsine, K. Zine-Dine, M. Khaidar, M. Siniti  (2019)  Battery Characterization and Dimensioning Approaches for Micro-Grid Systems An energy management platform for micro-grid systems using Internet of Things and Big-data technologies

12] Elmouatamid, A., NaitMalek, Y., Bakhouya, M., Ouladsine, R., Elkamoun, N., Zine-Dine, K., & Khaidar, M. (2019) An energy management platform for micro-grid systems using Internet of Things and Big-data technologies

[13] A. Kharbouch, Y. Nait Malek, H. El Khoukhi, M. Bakhouya, V. De Florio, D. El Ouadghiri, S.Ouhbi, S. Latre, C. Blondia (2019) IoT and Big Data Technologies for Monitoring and Processing Real-Time Healthcare Data

[14]  F. Lachhab, M. Bakhouya, R. Ouladsine, M. Essaaidi (2019) A Context-driven Platform Using IoT and Big Data for HVAC Systems Control

[15] F. Lachhab, M. Bakhouya, R. Ouladsine, M. Essaaidi (2019) Context-driven Monitoring and Control of Buildings Ventilation Systems using Big Data and Internet of Things–based technologies

[16] R. Ouladsine, R. Outbib, M. Bakhouya (2017) The PV Corrosion Fault Prognosis based on Ensemble Kalman Filter

[17] H. Elkhoukhi, Y. NaitMalek, M. Bakhouya, A. Berouine, A. Kharbouch, F. Lachhab, M. Hanifi, D. Elouadghiri, M. Essaaidi (2020) A platform architecture for occupancy detection using stream processing and machine learning approaches

[18] Elmouatamid, A., Ouladsine, R., Bakhouya, M., El kamoun, N., & Zine-Dine, K. (2021) A Predictive Control Strategy for Energy Management in Micro-Grid Systems

[19] S. Berrabah, M-O. Moussa, M. Bakhouya (2021) 3D modeling of the thermal transfer through precast buildings envelopes

[20] Youssef Nait Malek, Mehdi Najib, Mohamed Bakhouya, and Mohammed Essaaidi (2021) Multivariate Deep Learning Approach for Electric Vehicle Speed Forecasting

PEER reviewed proceedings:
[1] Boulmrharj, S. (2020). A Contribution towards a Holistic and Hybrid approach integrating the Photovoltaic source, Storage, and Fuel Cell Cogeneration: Application into smart Micro-Grids for Buildings. Thesis report.
[2] Elmouatamid, A. (2020). A Contribution Towards Predictive Control for Energy Management in Micro-grids Systems: Application into a Smart and Energy Efficient Buildings. Thesis report.

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