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Cycle 5 (2015 Deadline)

Towards Smart Microgrids: Renewable Energy Integration into Smart Buildings

PI: Mohamed Riduan Abid (, Alakhawayn University, with co-PIs Mohamed Bakhouya, International University of Rabat and Khalid Zinedine, University Chouaib Doukkali 
U.S. Partner: Driss Benhaddou, University of Houston
Project Dates: December 2016 - November 2019

Project Overview:

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.

 The first prototype of the USAID-NI Lab at Alakhawayn University. Photo courtesy of Dr. Abid
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.

Summary of Recent Activities

In this reporting period, the PI and his team finalized" the setting of the USAID_NI Lab at AUI: All hardware components were acquired and pre-requisite testing experimentation we successfully carried out. The final lab set up is composed of the following items, see attached fig1, please: 1. NI CompactRIO Controller: This is main control unit of the system. It decides on whether to inject the energy produced in the grid or redirect it to the storing device.; 2. Inverter: It takes care of inverting the Direct Current to an Alternating Current; 3. Inverter/Charger: This has an interface with the PV panel and the storage device, and It is responsible for
inverting the current from DC to AC and store the energy produced in the battery; 4. Cluster Controller: This device monitors and controls the inverters; 5. DC Electrical Cabinet; 6. AC Electrical Cabinet; 7. Lithium Storage Device: This takes care of storing the excess of energy produced by the PV station. In addition to these, they installed a smart TV to the setup in order to visualize and monitor the data provided by the PV panels.

At the site at UIR/UCD, the PI, Dr. Bakhouya introduced a predictive control approach by taking into account the power production/consumption prediction and finalized the first model of the thermal panel together with simulations and experimentations study. a relevant paper has been submitted to CODIT 2019. Regarding "Interfaces Modeling and dimensioning of (RES)-based power generation systems and storage devices", they investigated the fuel cell by establishing the first model to be included within the building cosimulation framework, a relevant abstract has been submitted to ICEER 2019 conference. This consists of meeting efficient integration of PEM fuel cell into our EEBLab (Energy Efficient Building Laboratory) test-bed in order to supply the needed electricity and heat for the building. As a first step, they are tackling the sizing of the MG system, composed of PV panels, converters, electrolyzer, fuel cell, and hydrogen tank, according to the needed electricity and heat for the building is under investigation. Simulations have been carried out using Matlab/Simulink where MG components models have been developed as well as the model for the building's envelope. Simulations results will be presented in order to study the accuracy of the sizing method, and also the models that have been developed, by recovering the needed electricity and heat in the test-bed.
5-398 Abid
Dr. Bakhouya presenting his project to the PEER team.

Regarding, Platform for Development of the AMI (Advanced Monitoring Infrastructure) and the relevant Context-aware and Monitoring platform, we continued on developing a fuzzy logic-based control approach for HVAC control has been developed; investigated a hybrid Heating and air-conditioning system, and an Occupancy Prediction Approach using Machine Learning Techniques.
The next decisive step is to deploy the Solar Parking Lot at AUI. In contrast to the Solar PVs already installed in the Lab, and which are for experimental purposes, the parking lot will serve mainly for scaling up testings and electricity production as well.
To cope with the need in terms of researchers, the PIs are recruiting Ph.D. student Naji Najem to continue on the AMI (Advanced Metering Infrastructure) deployment, and we are seeking 2 other PhD students to assist on Solar Energy monitoring and site Parking lot deployment.

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