Smart IoT lighting system for grid regulation

Technology News |
By Nick Flaherty

The Korea Power Exchange is working with Merlot Lab to demonstrate frequency regulation using 4,300 IoT smart lights installed at Jungbu Complex Logistics Terminal of CJ Logistics, the largest logistics company in Korea. There are large and growing interests from major domestic and overseas energy companies for demonstration result of frequency regulation using IoT smart lighting system.

Frequency regulation is necessary as a result of more intermittent power from wind and solar nrgy that fluctuates throughout the day. A common concern of grid operators around the world has been the problems of volatility in renewable energy, and ways to handle this challenge effectively.

In a move to find better ways to resolve the variation in frequency caused by mismatch between supply and demand of electricity, the grid operators are turning their attention to demand side management, where demand is adjusted in real time in accordance with power supply through new frequency regulation tools such as Fast DR (Demand Response).

Fast DR is designed to reduce electricity demand in near real time in response to grid changes, such as unexpected spikes in energy use, when electricity generation may not be sufficient to meet peak load, or sudden drops in wind or solar generation.

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In countries such as Germany, Fast DR is used as a fast-acting resource for countering output volatility of renewables. In Korea, the role of Fast DR is fast increasing.

Merlot Labs developed an IoT smart lighting system as a new frequency control resource to solve the problem of supply volatility of renewable energy, and announced that they would start the demonstration of frequency regulation using IoT smart lighting system on November 25, 2021.

During the joint demonstration period until August next year, the Korea Power Exchange will formulate the Fast DR frequency regulation operation standards and guidelines required for the power system and verify with the demonstration results. Merlot Lab will participate in the demonstration of automatic illuminance adjustment of smart lighting in accordance to frequency regulation operation by using its 4,300 connected lights installed in the Jungbu Complex Logistics Terminal of CJ Logistics.

The IoT smart lighting developed by Merlot Lab is scalable, wireless mesh network that can control thousands of light nodes from a single hub, where each and groups of lights can be controlled at 1 percent illuminance level increment, making it suitable for frequency regulation. The system can be implemented by simple drop-in replacement of exiting conventional light with Merlot Lab’s IoT light without additional cabling.

Gradual light illuminance means changes of 20 to 30 percent from the peak illuminance levels are not noticeable to the human eye and do not affect work productivity. The IoT smart lighting can automatically reduce energy load by adjusting light illuminance level by 20 to 30 percent as it responds to event signals sent by the grid.

“The amount of electricity currently used for lighting accounts for about 20% of the total electricity consumption in Korea,” said the Korea Power Exchange. “When the role of frequency regulation of IoT smart lighting systems is successfully demonstrated, it is expected to greatly contribute to resolving the problem of instability in the power system from the increase in the proportion of renewable energy.”

When the IoT smart lighting system is installed widely in the future, the frequency regulation mechanism can change from current simple power cut-off method in case of an emergency to continuous and automatic demand control with large number of smart lights which reduce energy load by 20 to 30 percent when power is in shortage, and raise to 100 percent brightness when power supply is in excess.

As large-scale lighting can be expected to take the role of frequency control by continuously and flexibly adjusting the power supply and demand balance, there are large and growing interest from major domestic and overseas energy companies for demonstration of frequency regulation using IoT smart lighting system.

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