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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-PI Mohamed Bakhouya, International University of Rabat
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. 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 quarter, the PI’s university, Alakhawayn University hosted a National Instruments (NI) training in July, 2017. The training covered LabVIEW Core Land LabVIEW Core II which constitutes the cornerstone software to handle most of NI controllers. Participating students (and faculty) will be given official NI participation certificates, and thus qualify for professional NI certifications, e.g., CLAD (Certified LabVIEW Associate Developer), CLD (Certified LabVIEW Developer), CLED (Certified LabVIEW Embedded Developer).

Dr. Abid will be presenting a paper entitled "ICT for Renewable Energy Integration into Smart Buildings: IoT and Big Data Approach" which has been accepted to the 13th international IEEE Africon'17 conference ( to be held in Cape Town, South Africa, Sep 18-20, 2017

This quarter, the team also investigated the local electrical grid at AUI campus which covers the academic area, residential areas, and others (Gymnasium, library, restaurants, mosque). The university is powered by a Medium voltage lines from ONEE (Office National d'Eau et D'Electricity). The university also owns a private low voltage network infrastructure with transformers bash bars, energy management system, and 46 KW of renewable energies (PVs, SWH, wind, and hydrogen storage), heat pumps, biomass boiler, gasoline boiler and a gasoil generator. Their next step is to build up an inventory of active loads along with building envelopes. Once they profile and classify the energy consumption, they will identify potential injection points (in the grid).

At the UIR site, a solar PV model, along with an irradiation model, was developed and simulated using Matlab. A PV panel was installed in order to get the intensity and the voltage values that are required to get the PV production. Real-data and simulated data were compared and results will published.

A battery model was developed to investigate the state of charge and its state of health, along with a dimensioning model based on the real consumption of the investigated building. Real-data and simulated are to be compared and results will be published soon.

On their task of the development of the AMI (Advanced Monitoring Infrastructure) and the relevant Context-aware and Monitoring platform, a Wireless Sensor Network containing three nodes has been deployed and tested. These nodes are: the sender node which senses temperature and humidity, an intermediary node that forwards the sensed data from the source to the destination, and the third node which represents the destination to read the sensed data. To build this network described above, they made use of different kinds of hardware. The DHT11 sensor senses the data and sends it to the intermediary node through the Xbee module. The intermediary node then forwards it to the destination that receives it through the Xbee module as well.

To test the deployment, they placed 2 nodes (the sender and the intermediary nodes) inside the lab and one node outside in order to create a mesh network.

In the next few months, the PI and his team will carry out another NI training (on NI Compaq Rio) will be organized at UCD during the start of October 2017. A real-world NI lab will developed at AUI. This will be composed of: a parking slot for one car (13 m²) of 2 KW; a battery (to mimic the role of an electrical car charging battery), and lastly, a NI CompaqRio along with needed cards. Lastly, they will carry out more experiments to validate the models developed so far.

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