What is EEBus?
EEBus is a communication protocol – a standardized digital infrastructure. It allows a seamless intelligent communication between household appliances, electric vehicles, heat pumps, energy producers, storage systems and energy management systems (EMS) and external control signals (for example, from grid operators). Overall, it aims to make energy application and management more streamlined and convenient, necessary for the digitalization of the energy transition.
Simply put, EEBus is a universally accepted, open-source communication protocol in the energy industry that allows energy-enabled devices from various manufacturers and technologies to interact and exchange information, theoretically, without any licensing restrictions.
EEBus is developed by the EEBus Initiative e.V., a non-profit organization that pushes for a standardized cross-domain interface. gridX is part of the growing 60-plus members.
The EEBus Initiative was founded in 2012 with the goal of creating a common non-proprietary language for energy . The founders recognized information exchange as the most important prerequisite for holistic energy management. In close collaboration with the EEBus working groups, they identified use cases – specific situations in which a product or service could potentially be used – and specified and standardized the data exchange using their protocols – named Smart Home Interface Protocol (SHIP) and Smart Premises Interoperable Neutral Message Exchange (SPINE). With these two protocols, they create use cases that provide energy management solutions.
The Technical Side
The EEBus system architecture has five layers, as shown in the Smart Grid Application Model (SGAM): component, communication, information, function, and organizational.
The communication layer uses the transport protocol called SHIP, which can sit on User Datagram Protocol (UDP) or Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) to transport messages in the communication layer.
On top of SHIP, but operating independently, is the SPINE protocol. It covers the information layer of the SGAM, and sitting on top of SPINE is the function layer responsible for a range of use cases specification designed for optimal benefits for the customers.
Why does EEBus matter?
The challenges of integrating energy assets, EMS, power grids, and the energy market lie in their differing interests and interactions at the grid connection point. Key players require different information and solutions for different devices; plus, these devices interact with one another in diverse ways. It can be a daunting, time-consuming, and expensive task if they all speak different languages, but EEBus makes it simple for all stakeholders involved and serves as the universal language for all of them.
How does EEBus work?
The energy management system can talk with different energy assets, such as photovoltaics (PVs), white goods (washing machine, refrigerator, water heater, and the like), electric vehicles (EV) charging stations, heat pumps, battery systems, and smart meter gateways through EEBus. This non-proprietary language for energy also connects the smart meter gateway (SMGW) to the grid. Imagine that every energy asset speaks a different language. Interaction of the most diverse DERs would be extremely time-consuming and obstructive in this context. EEBus therefore acts as a universal language that enables smooth communication between the EMS, all DERs as well as the grid. EEBus even enables cloud-to-cloud communication between the EMS backend and the original equipment manufacturer’s (OEM) backend.
Who is EEBus for?
Device manufacturers and energy management system providers
EEBus ensures compliance with local grid operators' connection specifications for grid compatibility. The focus is on optimizing device operation for cost, CO2 emissions, and self-consumption. EEBus allows control through limits, envelopes, or incentives without directly controlling the devices, preserving data democracy. Regulatory requirements are clear and well-defined.
EEBus safeguards local resources and optimizes the utilization of the local grid. It provides transparency and control at the grid connection point, ensuring data protection and IT security.
With EEBus, energy providers embrace market-driven flexibility. They efficiently optimize the utilization of the local grid and align their energy sales with dynamic electricity market prices.
The benefits of using EEBus
1. Broad support by cross-sector network
Supported by diverse industries, EEBus eliminates the need for multiple protocols and streamlines customer care, allowing energy companies to manage household loads across domains seamlessly.
2. Technical standardization
EEBus prioritizes technical standardization, considering member interests. Their detailed process, including public appeal procedures, aligns specifications with norms, promoting interoperability and harmonization.
3. Seamless plug-and-play experience
EEBus simplifies integration with plug and play, bypassing the need for specialists or complex setups. Its user-friendly approach promotes energy-optimized configurations for broader acceptance.
4. Integrated Application
SPINE, the generic data model, integrates diverse use cases, transcending devices and stakeholder roles. Aligned use cases prioritize control requirements, enabling versatile business models for customer devices and assets.
5. Unparalleled agility and flexibility
At its core, the EEBus data model, SPINE, embodies exceptional flexibility. Its modular and flexible design sets the stage for stakeholder consensus. Crucially, it can evolve progressively without sacrificing downward compatibility and is adaptable to any transport technology for seamless transfer.
6. Uninterrupted functionality
Use cases can implement a fail-safe/watchdog mechanism to ensure uninterrupted functionality. Devices smoothly transition to fail-safe mode during communication failures and resume normal operation when communication is restored.
7. Strict security compliance for critical infrastructure
The SHIP communication stack relies on industry-standard IP technologies, meeting strict security standards. It incorporates security features like syndication, trust establishment, and cybersecurity measures to safeguard critical infrastructure from present and future threats.
Building-level capacity management
Through EEBus communication, the Distribution System Operator (DSO) gains the ability to monitor power consumption, frequency, and voltage at the building or device level, such as EVs. When an imminent grid congestion is detected, the DSO signals the building's gateway to limit power consumption or feed-in at the grid connection. This power limitation ensures that the building operates within a specified maximum power consumption or feed-in level for a defined duration, effectively averting critical grid conditions. This proactive approach minimizes the need for DSO intervention and eliminates the need for drastic measures like enforced cut-off times and load shedding.
Time of Use tariffs
Time of Use (ToU) tariffs give consumers a financial incentive to adjust their energy consumption behavior, encouraging load shifting to off-peak periods. This deliberate action reduces grid strain and facilitates a higher incorporation of renewable energy, resulting in improved grid efficiency.
By providing the consumption schedule to the EMS, the EEBus system allows devices to optimize their power usage or maximize revenue through PV feed-in, taking advantage of market mechanisms such as dynamic tariffs, even during grid constraints imposed by the DSO.
Increase of self-consumption
Through EEBus integration, devices gain the ability to communicate their current and predicted power consumption or production. The energy management system then influences the operation of controllable devices and PV feed-in to ensure they align with the PV production curve. With the inclusion of energy storage solutions like stationary battery systems or bidirectional electric vehicles, excess PV energy can be stored and utilized when needed, reducing reliance on external energy sources. This approach not only results in significant energy cost reductions for end users but also contributes to a more sustainable energy footprint.
Monitoring and Comfort
EEBus facilitates communication among devices, allowing them to exchange information regarding their current energy consumption, generation, and future energy patterns. This data can be collected by the energy management system or displayed for end user interaction. Moreover, this information can be utilized by smart home or home automation systems to optimize comfort levels for end users, creating a more personalized and enjoyable living environment.
By integrating EEBus into XENON, gridX is able to integrate with the German smart meter gateway without need for certification, connect with many devices without need for additional device specific integration, integrate heat pumps and allow more control options than smart grid ready (SG Ready).
Challenges and limitations
It is crucial to acknowledge the inherent complexity tied to EEBUS standardization. Ongoing development sometimes presents a challenge in maintaining backward compatibility, for example, in the event of a specific use case update by EEBUS, meticulous attention and troubleshooting are required to ensure the seamless operation of both old and new versions by the integration team.
From the business development perspective, EEBus is recognized within the industry, particularly in Germany and surrounding markets, with many companies, including OEMs, expressing their commitment to its implementation. However, progress has been relatively slow and widespread adoption is yet to occur, says Till Sonnen – gridX’s Business Development Manager. Despite this, he mentions, the potential for EEBus to be beneficial, particularly in the heating industry, remains high, given the complexity associated with alternative methods of heat pump control.