Project Structure

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Collaborating Smart Solar-Powered Microgrids

To cope with the day-to-day and day-night fluctuations in energy production in demand, coming from RES (Renewable Energy Supply) like PV, grid operators are required to maintain variable back-up systems.
Most of those systems in Europe are currently coal-fired or base line nuclear loads power plants that counteract the positive effects of the RES introduced. If local power storage and grid-buffering was implemented to a larger extent, in household and neighbourhoods, this would have many positive effects such as more predicable power outputs, reduced grid investments, reduced transfer costs and increased ownership to energy challenges.

CoSSMic aims at enabling higher rates for self-consumption (>50%) of decentralised renewable energy production by coordinating the energy production, consumption, and use of storage units of the buildings in a neighbourhood. Therefore, the project will develop an innovative autonomic ICT based system, controlling the energy usage, production, and storage, and facilitating both peer-to-peer collaboration between micro-grids in a neighbourhood, and collaboration with the public power grid. The system will
optimise the exploitation of the energy sources and sinks in the neighbourhood within constraints set by the house owners, to smooth out the variation in load towards the grid, and hence reduce the need for fossil fuel based backup power, and also reduce the electricity bill of the house owners.

A micro-grid is typically confined in a smart home or an office building, and includes local energy generation and storage of solar power, linked to a number of power consuming devices. In addition to this microgrid, electric vehicles can connect and disconnect at random, so a varying storage capacity is needed. In
CoSSMic, micro-grids are combined with an intelligent ICT based solution for peer-to-peer collaboration between various micro-grids in one neighbourhood. Besides collaborating with each other, these microgrids need also to collaborate with the central power grid. This collaboration includes sharing of information and exchanging excess power production and storage capacity, both between micro-grids and with the central power grid, all in accordance with policies defined by the owners as well as other relevant information, such as input from weather stations, weather forecasts, and habits and plans of inhabitants.

The CoSSMic project will allow household and neighbourhood optimisation and power sales to the network, in addition to a higher degree of predictability of power deliveries for the large power companies, and it will satisfy the requirements and achieve the benefits discussed above. The behaviour of the smart micro-grids will be governed by reward based business models ensuring sufficient rewards to the users willing to share resources and collaborate to optimise the overall working of the power grid.

Figure 1: Neighbourhoods of collaborating smart solar cell powered micro-grids connected to the public power grid.

Figure 1: Neighbourhoods of collaborating smart solar cell powered micro-grids connected to the public power grid
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Transition to RES in Europe

Decarbonisation of European energy systems needs to speed up in order to reach the goals set by the European Energy Roadmap and Low Carbon Europe Roadmap by 2050. The transition to RES plays a key role in the plans to reach these goals.

Cities are increasingly recognised for their ability to play a catalytic role in addressing climate and energy challenges using technologically innovative approaches as primary energy distribution in the built environment. One of the options is solar electricity (photovoltaics or PV for short) which could be deployed
decentralised into the urban areas. Cities accounts for about 40% of total EU energy consumption [1] , so this could alleviate the carbonised electricity demand drastically. Therefore, it is only logical that PV plays a major role in many scenarios based on reaching European and national targets of 20% renewable energy in 2020, and in scenarios for 80% or more renewable energy in 2050, as shown by scenario’s plotted by the European PV Industry Association (EPIA). [2]

Figure 2a: Active power production from a PV plant showing two days with different cloud coverage [3]

Figure 2a: Active power production from a PV plant showing two days with different cloud coverage [3]
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Figure 2b: Performance of a (family) home in Konstanz (Germany) with 10 kWp roof top PV system (2011/2012). The installation enables preferred direct self consumption of the electricity from PV if appropriate. (courtesy from ISC)

Figure 2b: Performance of a (family) home in Konstanz
(Germany) with 10 kWp roof top PV system (2011/2012)
The installation enables preferred direct self consumption of the electricity from PV if appropriate (courtesy of ISC)
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In Europe, 21.9 GW of PV-systems were connected to the grid in 2011, compared to 13.4 GW in 2010, [3] which is in line with the average of 40% increase during the past 15 years. This steady increase has been stimulated tremendously by countries like Germany and Italy using powerful incentives to install systems – both in terms of large power plants and distributed but grid-connected roof-top systems for home owners.
This has been successful with the PV systems delivering up to 30% of the electricity on the grid during summer in Germany. [4]

Although this trend is very positive, it offers significant challenges for the grid-operators as the predictability of solar power generation – in countries with highly fluctuating insolation, -and subsequent solar cell power output – is very limited, as illustrated by Figure 2.

Moreover, even in the example of the home in Konstanz (Figure 1b), where the installation enables the direct self-consumption, it was measured that although there was enough energy over the whole year from its PV, more than 50% of the consumed energy had to be delivered from the grid, due to the time mismatch between generated and consumed power.

With the neighbourhood smart micro-grid it is expected that the self-consumption for houses with PV installed may rise from below 50% to over 70%, depending on the size of their PV installation and their consumption patterns.

Figure 3: Expected changes in self-consumption to be brought about by CoSSMic

Figure 3: Expected changes in self-consumption to be brought about by CoSSMic
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Evaluation with real users

CoSSMic will evaluate the proposed solution with real users in two trial neighbourhoods, one in the city of Konstanz in southern Germany and one in the province of Caserta in southern Italy.

The evaluation will be based on modern user-centered design approaches where continuous participation of users and stakeholders is assumed. This participation guarantees that concepts are validated early. In particular the concepts underlying CoSSMic business model, user interfaces and online communities will be co-developed with representatives from main stakeholder groups. Early prototypes will be developed and tested by the users. In three consecutive workshops, the early ideas and concepts that have been developed will be refined and improved. Later versions of the prototypes will integrate solar energy and storage equipment and will be tested thoroughly by end users before the trials start.

Towards the end of the project the developed solution will be installed and used at the trial sites for a period of one year. This trial aims to show that > 50% of the decentralised power production will be consumed at the neighbourhood level, resulting in CO2 reduction due to less dependency on the fossil fuel based neighbourhood external grid. Moreover, the trials will evaluate and demonstrate the following target characteristics of the CoSSMic solution:

• the benefit to the users in terms of lower energy cost
• the ease of installation of CoSSMic technology
• the ease of daily operation of CoSSMic technology
• the ability to advice users in evolving their micro grid to provide further community benefits
• the flexibility to accommodate such evolution
• the positive influence of local storage on the fluctuations towards the central grid
• the exact benefit in terms of reduced CO2 footprint

Figure 4: User involvement and evaluation model as utilized by CoSSMic

Figure 4: User involvement and evaluation model as utilized by CoSSMic
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Tangible results of CoSSMic

user-customized preferences

user-customized preferences

The CoSSMic conceptual model allows users to express and customize their preferences and constrains regarding energy management.


open access

The Open source software implementing the CoSSMic solution, which is executable on commonly available hardware will be downloadable from an open access open source site.

on co2 reduction

documentation on co2 reduction

Documentation of the effects on potential CO2 reduction from the experiences of the two trial sites with the CoSSMic solution installed in real neighbourhoods in two different countries during one year, thus being a thorough evaluation of the concept based on collected data.

evaluation of
concept-based data

evaluation of concept-based data

A thorough evaluation of the concept based on data collected from the trial use of the system in the trial sites over a one-year period, quantifying the potential for CO2 reduction, reduced need for transport capacity in the grid, reduced energy cost for the consumers, and the user assessment of the usability.


web-based user-portal

A web-based CoSSMic user portal, that provides easy-to-grasp explanation on the CoSSMic solution, user guides and other documentation and a sign-up.

more predictable
energy consumption

more predictable energy consumption

Improved predictable energy consumption due to the mediation of CoSSMic technology.

Sustainability of the CoSSMic approach

Open Source represents a strategic choice for the maintenance and the exploitation of the CoSSMic software after the end of the project. By adopting a clear open source strategy, and develop the platform using open source tools and methodologies even during the project’s lifetime, we hope to attract interest from external users and developers.

The goal of the research units involved in CoSSMic is the maintenance and evolution of the developed code for future scientific work, and for the exploitation of the project outcome in new scientific collaborations and in technological transfer activities, which are part of their institutional mission.

The relevance of the Open Source choice for the public bodies is related to the policies they have adopted for the development of their IT infrastructure and the provisioning of ICT services to citizens and other public and private entities.


[2] EPIA publications 2010 & 2012