The ISMB Smart Energy Strategic Program aims to answer to the challenges and problems of a sustainable use of our energy resources leveraging on the ICT technologies. ICT may bring new ways of managing energy distribution through smart grids, new ways of managing energy consumption through smart metering, smart billing or electrical mobility. Moreover, ICT has the potential of shaping in a new way the whole energy environment and it will be a key element to develop new services, business sectors and infrastructures in the coming years (energy grids, energy monitoring and saving, full electric vehicles, user awareness and engagement, life cycle analysis, etc...). In summary, the ISMB’s Smart Energy Program is willing to promote the use of the ICT in the energy environment and experimenting new energy paradigms in this sector.

Main Research Orientation

Energy Monitoring System
ICT stands for Information and Communication Technologies and it is a generic name used to describe a range of technologies for gathering, storing, retrieving, processing, analyzing, and transmitting information. Therefore, the more easiest approach and contact point of ICT and Energy is to gather and transmitting data related to energy produced and consumed in different locations, storing such data in an efficient way for further processing. Finally, to use the knowledge extracted on these data to understand energy inefficiencies both in the system as well as in the user’s behaviors and to provide support to the decision makers or to an automated management and control system.

Energy Networks (Smart Micro Grids – Enernet)
The world around the energy production, distribution and its final use is facing new challenging and differences with respect to the past. Finding the best way to increase the energy efficiency and at the same time to minimize our energy dependence in our daily routine turns out to be one of the biggest challenges that the world is facing. Integrating more distributed renewable energy in current distribution systems does not simplify this scenario at all. The unpredictability and reliability on sources like solar and wind energy directly dependent on weather conditions makes the management and control of our energy networks more difficult and complex. Users are also becoming producers of energy (the so-called prosumers) injecting energy in the grid when their production capability exceed their consumption needing. The evolution or revolution in this field is to work on the transition between traditional grids to the future smart grids characterized with smart consumption, smart distribution and smart production of energy. A fundamental component of the smart grid scenario will be the ICT as element for bringing the necessary intelligence required to integrate the actions of all users connected to the network, of the distributed generators and storage systems so to efficiently deliver sustainable, economic and secure electricity supplies. The internal research project of the Smart Energy Program is analyzing the role of the ICT in the change of the paradigm in the electric market, organization and management that will be characterized future smart grids. The primary idea of the project is based on the analysis of the similarities and differences between modern telecommunication networks and future energy distribution networks (weakly meshed). To gather renewable production centres, distributed storages as well as electric vehicles and connect them as virtual power plant thanks to ICT technologies to shape and model the load power profile in the grid.

Goods Life Cycle Analysis
Global warming has emerged as the most prominent environmental issue of our times. The reduction of Green House Gasses (GHG) emissions is the goal of worldwide international environmental policies. More specifically, the European Union is responsible for around 11% of global annual GHG emissions, the 11.5% of which comes from manufacturing area. Incentives to reduce emissions of energy intensive industries are expected. The idea is to measure the energetic footprint in order to apply energy saving plans and to qualify companies and products. The most ambitious goal is to measure the consumed energy to produce each single product, during each production stage, in order to evaluate the so-called carbon footprint. Many companies apply not much sophisticated approach for quantifying the amount of energy and GHG emission associated to each product, i.e. a simple division of the total amount of emissions or energy (both thermal and electrical), used during manufacturing process, over the total amount of created products in a period. This trivial approach is not able to depict a comprehensive picture of the production chain’s energy profile, and is often inaccurate or not applicable. The Smart Energy Program aims to realize an ICT-based tool (a Decision Support System – DSS) able to provide precise information of each step of the production chain and, consequently, more targeted solutions to improve their energy efficiency. On top of this platform, an Energy modelling layer analysis will support to identify the concrete measures to reduce the GHG emissions in intensive manufacturing processes.

Diversification Of Energy Production Vectors
The new directive adopted by the European Union (RES directive 2009/28/EC) is stressing the importance of RES for heating and cooling purposes and transport. Accordingly, the use of RES for the thermal energy component is assigned a primary role to reach the ambitious targets of renewables’ penetration in Europe. (EU Commission policies in the Energy Roadmap 2050). However, a radical plan for the introduction of RES would imply huge investments, which are not always compatible with the persistence of the economic crisis and the non-exciting perspectives of the economy. Accordingly, the research goal here is to address the energy sectors with the widest margins of quantitative expansion and within these sectors, the solutions re-using as much as possible the existing infrastructures, remarkably the distribution networks. This strategic position led the project to challenge on the integration of RES with the existing district heating plants in urban areas. Within this important sector, the basic objective is to foster the diffusion of efficient RES-integrated configurations by developing practical tools and methodologies able to improve the effectiveness of the different kinds of actors using, managing and planning the integrated energy system.

Local Energy Balancing
Developing ICT platform for evaluating the Energy Local Balance in a specific area able to represent the import and export flow of Energy as well as their conversion from one form to another. The representation of the data in a transparent and complete way it is at the base of the development of a Decision Support System able to support the relevant stakeholders in the decision making process of managing the local energy resources as well as to support the energy planning activity at a regional or city level.