Prof. Antonello Monti on the Real-Time Customer-Centric Grid

On September 4, I met with Professor Antonello Monti at RWTH Aachen University. Prof. Monti directs RWTH’s Institute for Automation of Complex Power Systems, working on topics such as monitoring and distributed intelligence for Smart Grids. He was also the technical manager for FINESCE, an EU-funded project running from 2013-15 that developed an open-IT infrastructure for Smart Grid-related applications. Prof. Monti and I sat down for an interview, and he also gave me a tour of his lab.

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Energy and Agent-Based Models

On September 10, I Skyped with a researcher at the Institute for Future Energy Consumer Needs and Behavior (FCN) at RWTH Aachen University. His work applies agent-based simulations, or models of interacting autonomous actors (“agents”) with encoded needs and/or preferences, to energy-related problems. He’s co-authored a number of papers in this area, including one on German biomass plant installation and one on the spread of solar PV systems in Italy. He is also working on projects involving techno-economic analyses of large energy systems and pricing/regulation in power markets. We talked primarily about the merits and limitations of agent-based modeling for Smart Grids and renewable energy.

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A Stopover in Aachen

On my way from Freiburg to Berlin, I took a one-day detour to the city of Aachen. Aachen is located at the Dreiländereck (“tripoint”) between Germany, Belgium, and the Netherlands. It’s also home to the E.ON Energy Research Center, a public-private partnership between RWTH Aachen and one of Europe’s biggest energy companies. I went to conduct some interviews at the research center and did some tourism in the process.

It took about nine hours to get from Freiburg to Aachen by bus. Luckily, I made a friend who kept me company during the journey. Continue reading