OpenADR Continues to Move the Smart Grid Forward

December 3, 2012

Open Automated Demand Response (OpenADR)—the standard for open automation of building electricity demand response and price communications—has gained considerable attention since it emerged from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory's (Berkeley Lab's) Demand Response Research Center in 2002. This non-proprietary DR interface facilitates open, standardized communication that enables power providers and managers to securely communicate wholesale and retail price and reliability as well as DR program information with customers using existing electronic communications. Developed as an effective means for DR service providers to maintain grid reliability and for customers to benefit (and profit from) demand reduction, OpenADR is now becoming an integral component of the U.S. and international Smart Grid.

OpenADR 1.0 was developed as a non-proprietary open communication specification by Berkeley Lab researchers and industrial partners for U.S. markets. In 2009, they donated it to the Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards (OASIS), where it became the basis for the formal international Energy Interoperation 1.0 standard. In 2010, OpenADR 1.0 became a U.S. Smart Grid standard supported by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). Today it supports more than 250 megawatts of automated DR in California alone, and cleantech market intelligence firm Pike Research predicts that it will be used in nearly 170,000 sites by 2018.

As its presence in the world of clean technology and supply and demand integration increases, OpenADR developments are moving apace. The OpenADR Alliance, a member-represented non-profit organization, is working to simplify DR adoption; the formal OpenADR 2.0a Profile Specification, based on the Energy Interoperation 1.0 standard, was recently released; various companies have developed and are commercializing products based on OpenADR 2.0a; and research and development continues move OpenADR standards and products into the global marketplace.

Here is a summary of some of the latest developments with OpenADR 2.0.

OpenADR Alliance

Founded in 2010 by Berkeley Lab, Pacific Gas and Electric Company, Southern California Edison, and Honeywell, the OpenADR Alliance is a member-represented nonprofit corporation created to foster the development, adoption, and compliance of the OpenADR standard through collaboration, education, training, testing, and certification. In 2011, the Alliance developed technical and marketing committees and a conformance and testing program to help OpenADR become an accepted standard and to facilitate its wider adoption. It also formed working groups and committees to facilitate the development of, and transition to, the formal industry standard, OpenADR 2.0.

Girish Ghatikar, a Berkeley Lab researcher and Vice-Chairman of the OpenADR Alliance leading the project describes the work's significance: "Bringing the lab technologies and science to the market and engaging stakeholders closely in the process are both integral to OpenADR research and development. The Alliance has helped to make OpenADR a success story of the U.S. Smart Grid interoperability standards, and is now helping it gain significant momentum within the international community."

Open to all interested stakeholders, the OpenADR Alliance is now an industry member-sponsored organization. With more than 75 members that range from equipment and software vendors to electric service providers and research institutions across the world, the Alliance continues to work with other entities to develop and advance the standard. Part of this work is the creation of a series of OpenADR 2.0 profiles (a, b, and c) that address increasing levels of technological complexity and device and market requirements. OpenADR 2.0a was released in August 2012, and 2.0b is currently in development.

The OpenADR 2.0a Profile Specification

The OpenADR 2.0a profile specification addresses cyber-security requirements and facilitates global interoperability standards. It enables commercial, industrial, and residential customers to automate their response to high energy prices and grid instability through demand response; helping them better manage their energy costs during peak demand periods, while helping utilities maintain grid reliability during those high points of electricity demand.

To accomplish this, OpenADR 2.0a offers secure, two-way communication between DR servers and automated DR clients and continuously communicates DR and dynamic price signals to customers. It is the only data model that bridges communications between utility and customer-owned control systems. OpenADR 2.0a supports activities, such as lowering temperatures or switching off lights to reduce electricity demand, which is applicable for most of the current DR markets; future profiles will support more complex actions to support wholesale DR markets and closer links to electricity generation.

OpenADR 2.0a Products

The following OpenADR 2.0a-certified devices were released in September 2012, and more vendors are interested in certifying the products:

The EnerNOC Site Server is a communications gateway or a secure client that interfaces with a building's control equipment to collect aggregated stream end-user data to EnerNOC's Network Operations Center, supporting a customer's ability to manage its energy in real time.

Akuacom, a Honeywell company, released its Demand Response Automation Server (DRAS), which securely broadcasts price, reliability, and other DR signals. The server passed both the required and optional OpenADR 2.0a functional tests. Akuacom currently provides commercial-grade DRAS for California utilities' automated DR programs, which are based on the OpenADR 1.0 specification.

The Energy Interop Server & System (EISS™), from IPKeys, Inc., is a server that enables energy providers to securely exchange two-way market signals with customers. Another IPKeys product, EISSBox, is a client that interfaces with a building's equipment to automatically receive and respond to DR and price event signals. IPKeys is unique in providing both server and client products. These products were pilot tested in spring 2012 by PJM (the eastern U.S. independent transmission system and wholesale market operator) and six commercial participants. The facilities reduced their loads via different means, but all achieved their load-reduction goals successfully. See "OpenADR Advances" for more about the pilot test.

Universal Devices ISY99i Z Series is an easy-to-configure, low-cost, standalone energy management, monitoring, and automation client that support different protocols and devices such as ZigBee, INSTEON, A10, and X10 products.

The products were all pre-tested using a test tool developed by QualityLogic and certified by a test lab, Intertek, helping increase the confidence of electricity service providers, aggregators, and customers in purchasing and implementing this equipment to automatically manage energy use. In addition, pilot tests are in the works, both in the United States and around the world.

OpenADR International Adoption

The use of OpenADR outside of the United States is beginning to gain inroads in Canada, the United Kingdom, Ireland, South Korea, China, Hong Kong, Australia, India, and Japan. For example, in China, as part of the U.S.-China Energy Cooperation Program, Honeywell has teamed with the Tianjin Economic-Technological Development Area to conduct a pilot study with commercial and industrial facilities in the area. China Light & Power in Hong Kong is conducting a similar pilot study. In addition, projects in South Korea and Japan are evaluating the feasibility of DR automation to address issues with increasing demand and integration with renewables. Ireland, Spain, Japan, Taiwan, India, and Turkey have also expressed interest in discussing potential OpenADR applications in their Smart Grid plans.

"OpenADR 2.0 is now being considered for standardization by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC — an international standards development organization). If successful, this process will likely lead to international standardization and thus ease its adoption across the global smart grid markets and use of OpenADR technologies developed in the U.S and elsewhere."

OpenADR users are being drawn to the specification because of its openness, flexibility, and low cost of implementation. In fact, it's increasingly the most common global standard used for DR automation. Vendors can produce innovative products without being hampered by intellectual property or patent concerns, and businesses and customers don't have to commit to a single vendor to meet all of their equipment needs. As the standard gains wider acceptance, the prevalence of more vendors and products is likely to lead to lower equipment costs and provide additional value streams within different DR markets.

Future Development and Support

Even so, researchers, standards and industry groups are continuing to collaborate with one another, to broaden the adoption of and applications for OpenADR through testing, and by ensuring that the standard is scalable, cost-effective, and accessible to all customer levels. OpenADR 2.0 pilot tests will be watched by users and developers, to monitor performance capabilities and assess market needs.

Work is ongoing on the OpenADR 2.0b and OpenADR 2.0c profile specifications. OpenADR 2.0b, expected to be released by the end of 2012, is designed for high-end embedded devices, and features a flexible reporting mechanism for data reports and wholesale DR markets. OpenADR 2.0c would address sophisticated controls and high-end computer systems, and support all services and markets, including energy transactions (two-way buying and selling of electricity) and aggregators; however, the North American Electric Reliability Council has suggested that the OpenADR 2.0b already meets the need of wholesale DR markets. The development of 2.0c profile will be based on research progress and market need.

"The OpenADR Alliance will continue to assess market and technical needs and collaborate with others to unlock OpenADR's potential," says Ghatikar. "We've only begun to see the benefits that the use of this open standard and innovations will bring to the Smart Grid."


Mark Wilson