Demand Response in Buildings: Engaging Thermostatically Controlled Loads in the Power Grid

Abstract

Buildings accounted for nearly 75% of the electricity use in 2010, the largest portion among all sectors in the United States. Despite their contribution to the overall electricity demand, they have traditionally been considered as passive end-users of energy, and research in building engineering has largely focused on solutions to curtail their energy usage and improve energy efficiency. However, recently, the potential of buildings to become active participants in the electricity grid by providing ancillary services via direct load control has been garnering interest in the research community. In this paper, we introduce different demand response programs that use thermostatically controlled loads (TCLs) available in buildings. Specifically, we shed light on the existing work on direct load control for TCLs and identify the upcoming challenges associated with this approach. Finally, we introduce BUFFER: the building frequency forecast and electricity regulation framework, a novel decentralized and autonomous framework that uses TCLs in buildings to do frequency regulation for the power grid.