One central aspect incorporated in the so-called “end to end optimization”-strategy the project has addressed the EEBus standard middleware developed by the project consortium members. The EEBus is considered to be one of the big success stories of the E-Energy programme and has laid some groundwork for the German “Energiewende” transition. Residential as well as commercial customers’ dwellings and processes often depend on applications that are manufactured by different suppliers, who support different types of process field busses and interface protocols causing a lack of interoperability between the applications’ IT components. Furthermore, the applications are often installed delayed in time or parts of “one-stop” IT are being replaced by new application parts based on different IT standards. Interoperable systems with “one-stop” IT from one stop is complex and costly, yet less difficult to integrate into a wider array of Smart Grids ICT infrastructure.
The EEBus constitutes a middleware that approaches exactly this issue and supports the integration of distributed, heterogenous applications in residential and commercial premises.
The EEBus serves as a translator between the protocols of different types of applications and technologies and thus enables an up to date, smooth, transparent and secure communication process between energy supply and the demand response. The comfort and efficiency of the interplay between the two sides is being improved. Figure 1 displays an overview of the EEBus‘s functions und structure.
source: EEBus e. V., 2012
EEBus unifies communication of household applications in one Smart Home approach
Furthermore, the EEBus serves to create a comprehensive abstraction of the different applications‘ energy usage profiles independent of different field busses. It provides for a perfect security of transactions within load management schemes in spite of different information and communication protocols of the applications‘ interfaces. From the external perspective, i.e. from the energy supply to the end-user, only the comprehensive, standardised interface of the EEBus in an XML-format is visible. This connection enables the transmission of incentives between the energy suppliers or service providers and the consumers that in turn enables the balancing of demand and supply between the market participants. Looked at from the internal perspective (machine – end-user), the EEBus middleware enhances the established interface standards by adding signal and control functions for a communication within the Smart Grids.
The EEBus builds upon existing standards (ZigBee or KNX) and develops them further. Specifically, the EEBus architecture and basic functions operate (e.g. for multi-threading, XML parceling) based on the widely known and distributed Qt Framework. In fact, the EEBus Stack is applicable for several platforms and operating systems, e.g. Linux, Windows, MAC or Symbian. The transition between the energy supply and home automation sphere is constituted by two different layers: (1) the physical layer that connects the heterogeneous interfaces of different household applications by making use of hardware and/or software adapters and (2) the abstractions layer that is able to display the connected application variety as one for external actors such as energy service providers.
The EEBus middleware already offers several solutions for radar and powerline-based applications. For radar based applications, communication is realized for Meshed 2,4 GHz networks (ZigBee) and in the 868 MHz (KNX-RF) frequency. Regarding powerline, the EEBus consortium focuses on the Cenelec B-Band, as - in addition to the narrower C-Band – this is the only narrow band that is standardized and freely accessible in Europe. The KNW PL 100 as well as the expansion KNX PL 110+, which is currently being standardized, can be embedded into Smart Home systems by the EEBus middleware.
Energy Management Gateways can be enhanced with the EEBus and thus become an interface between the exterior actors (utilities, other suppliers, aggregators etc.) and the building (intelligent consumer). Making use of the internet, the EEBus creates access to the world of the energy suppliers for the non-IP ready world of today’s household automation technology. The resulting interface can be utilized by sending and respectively receiving incentives within a 24 hours electricity price prognosis.
The EEBus can communicate with every application as a (virtual) IP application. Applications installed in the gateway by the end consumer can fulfill local services and the offer different internet-based services. The middleware centrally registers all applications including their properties at the gateway and in fact, in case the end-consumer agrees, it has full access to all information linked to the EEBus network.
In April 2012, the EEBus initiative was founded in order to support the further development, marketing and standardisation of the EEBus technology. Until mid-2013, 34 important industry players, among them energy supply companies such as E.ON and leading suppliers of network technology such as ABB or producers of households’ applications such as Miele or BSH, had joined the initiative.
The EEBus supporters are actively involved in the international standardisation of incentive models. Incentives are to create balance between energy generation and consumption. Low electricity costs in times of excess generation for example are to lead the consumer to consume more electricity. Incentives are transmitted via an XML data model that is compliant with Common Information Model (CIM). Energy suppliers, metering service providers and app developers are being offered a standardised, yet highly flexible XML format. In fact, the EEBus has become a form of data hub for communication protocols.
The initiative by Kellendonk is very active in standardisation and interest group activities, in order to collaboratively work on new EEBus profiles. As previously explained, the EEBus middleware enhances the existing, standardized connection profiles of household application by adding Smart Home functions. This process is driven by use case requirements for Smart Grids and Smart Homes as well as requirements by the application manufacturers.
The expansions of the EEBus are compliant with the approach of the Smart Grid mandate M490 at European level and furthermore represent the relevant parts of the German Standardisation Roadmap E-Energy / Smart Grid. EEbus allows interoperability between standard protocols. By means of a standardized abstraction of the individual protocols into a neutral XML data structure, the EEBus ensures the interoperability between IP (e.g. 6LoWPAN and WLAN) and non IP networks (e.g. KNX, ZigBee). The EEBus furthermore integrates UPnP and thus enables a unified display of TCP / IP based systems. The EEBus system’s modularity will allow for the integration of further applications’ protocols in the future in addition for existing integration of ZigBee, KNS and UPnP.
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