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Lead Performer: Pacific Northwest National Laboratory - Richland, Washington
Partner: Transformative Wave - Kent, Washington
DOE Funding: $350,000
Cost Share: $90,000
Project Term: October 1, 2014 – September 30, 2015
Funding Opportunity: Emerging Technologies / Commercial Buildings Integration Lab Call

Project Objective

VOLTTRON™ is an open-source, secure, extensible, and modular technology that supports a wide range of applications, such as managing end-use loads, increasing building efficiency, integration of distributed variable renewable energy, accessing storage, or improving electric vehicle charging. More broadly, it is a highly interoperable reference platform that directly supports BTO’s transactive energy vision by creating transactive energy (TE) applications, enabling the integration of buildings and the grid. PNNL released version 2.0 of the software as open source in September 2014.

Various components and systems of the VOLTTRON software have been successfully tested both in the laboratory and in real buildings by research groups, as the July 23-24 VOLTTRON technical meetings hosted by Case Western Reserve University revealed. It will be ready for broader demonstrations and technology transfer to the private sector after additional commercialization efforts are completed.

The first objective of this project is therefore to transfer the VOLTTRON software platform to a private sector cost-sharing partner, Transformative Wave, and provide technical assistance to enable TW to create products and services that improve the operating efficiency of buildings and increase the resilience of the electric grid. An important second objective is to develop a publicly available “how to” best practice guide for small- and medium-sized commercial buildings to encourage replication at scale by other potential private sector vendors.

Project Impact

VOLTTRON delivers an innovative distributed control and sensing software platform that supports modern control strategies, including agent-based and transaction-based controls. It enables mobile and stationary software agents to perform information gathering, processing, and control actions. VOLTTRON can independently manage a wide range of applications, such as HVAC systems, electric vehicles, distributed energy or entire building loads, leading to improved operational efficiency and energy and cost savings.

VOLTTRON has been extensively simulated and tested under ongoing projects with DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE). At Pacific Northwest National Laboratory’s Lab Home facilities, VOLTTRON successfully scheduled water heater and electric vehicle recharging operations. It is also currently used by Lawrence Berkeley and Oak Ridge National Laboratories, in the Buildings Technologies Office funded Transactive Network project, which examines the role transactive networks could play in improving the operations of rooftop units (RTU) on commercial buildings, while also enabling the RTUs to participate in building-grid transactions.

To realize the potential of VOLTTRON to provide energy and costs savings at scale, and to unlock the potential to provide grid services, its performance must be validated with private sector partners under realistic conditions with real building systems.  It also must demonstrate the achievability of cost/performance targets. This project seeks to do that by partnering with a private sector partner, Transformative Wave, along with preparation of a publicly available “how to” best practice guide for use by other vendors.


DOE Technology Manager: Karma Sawyer
Lead Performer: Dr. Srinivas Katipamula, PNNL

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