Biel-Benken - Switzerland

Residential consumers
PV plants
Heat pumps
Home batteries


The overall goal of the Biel-Benken demo site was to demonstrated the technical feasibility of a fully decentralized residential demand side management system. The Swiss University of Applied Science and Arts of Southern Switzerland (SUPSI) developed a decision algorithm which use the local voltage levels in order to estimate the power at the transformer. The voltage profile is used in combination with the tariff profile to drive a multi-objective optimization system. After the completion of the research project the technology is now further developed in an industrialization project, under the name GridSense, in cooperation with Alpiq, a leading Swiss electricity and energy services provider. The industrial prototype is installed in the Biel-Benken demo site.

Project description

As power generation becomes increasingly decentralised, consumers are becoming 'prosumers'. In other words, they need electrical energy from the grid but they generate some of it themselves with photovoltaic systems and store it in domestic batteries or electric vehicles. This new situation presents new challenges to distribution grid operators.


The technology GridSense is installed locally in buildings. It optimises the use of all suitably equipped power consumers, such as electric boilers, heat pumps, domestic batteries and charging stations for electric vehicles as well as decentralised power generators such as photovoltaic systems. At the heart of the intelligent technology are several algorithms, which continually measure parameters such as grid load, power consumption and generation and incorporate weather forecasts and electricity tariffs into their calculations. Thanks to artificial intelligence, the algorithms also learn how the different power consumers behave. The technology has an additional advantage in that it is autonomous and requires no communication link to the energy supply company.


For the 18-month-long field test, four properties had to be chosen in EBM's grid area which had a photovoltaic system, an electric boiler and a heat pump, all connected to the same transformer. Each property was also supplied with a storage battery. Two of the four houses have a charging station for electric vehicles. The owners of the four detached houses in Biel-Benken were all willing to take part in the exciting field test, the only one of its kind in Switzerland. For over a year, voluminous measuring equipment has been installed in the cellars of the four houses. But the most important parts are the small 'black boxes', the Household Appliance Controllers (HAC), which measure and control the behaviour of the various consumers.


The aim of the field test is to see how well GridSense performs in a modern single-family home. The technology avoids peak loads in the power grid and stabilises the distribution grid through the efficient use of power consumers. As decentralised production increases, the distribution grid will be put under ever growing pressure. By optimising power flows, the amount of new grid construction and expansion can be minimised and costs can be reduced.

Publications on the project



Specialist papers:





Use cases

Voltage Regulation

DSM system reacts on local voltage, shifting local loads and therefore indirectly controlling the voltage.

Energy Storage

  • Electrical battery storage systems 5 kWh in selected houses
  • One-way EV smart charging in selected houses
  • Thermal storage in each house

Demand Side Management

DSM (heat pump, boiler, EV, storage control) with the goals

  1. customer price reduction
  2. reduce stress on grid

(DSOs goal to balance generation and load in large area)