The University of Southampton

International award for tackling energy poverty in remote communities

Published: 23 July 2013

A Southampton ECS student is celebrating after winning the best student paper award at an international conference for his research into the problem of energy poverty in remote communities.

Muddasser Alam received the accolade at the recent Autonomous Agents and Multi-agent Systems (AAMAS) conference, in Saint Paul, Minnesota, USA, for his paper Cooperative Energy Exchange for the Efficient Use of Energy and Resources in Remote Communities.

His research presented a new approach to sharing resources in an electricity grid in remote rural communities in places like Africa and Asia. Homes that have little or no access to electricity are increasingly being equipped with some form of micro-generation such as a solar panel or wind turbine that can power basic lighting, cooking or heating. These micro-generators require costly batteries.

Muddasser, a PhD student the Agents, Interaction, and Complexity Group, supervised by Dr. Alex Rogers and Dr. Sarvapali Ramchurn, explored ways in which the use of these batteries could be minimised including interconnecting homes to exchange unused or stored energy.

Muddasser explained: “By introducing this mechanism they can avoid charging the battery too many times and avoid the inefficiencies associated with storing energy in a battery. This research will allow smart electricity grids to be evolved from the ground up.

"I am honoured to have received the Best Student Paper Award for my research. It shows not only the importance of my work but also signifies the problem of energy poverty in remote parts of the world.

“AAMAS is the top conference in my field and winning a renowned award early in my career means a lot for my future.”

Muddasser received a $1,000 prize and certificate for his award.

His co-supervisor Dr Sarvapali Ramchurn said: “Muddasser’s work will hopefully help materialise the vision of developing smart grids from the ground up that we see as a real game changer in terms of eradicating poverty around the world.”

Mudasser’s research was carried out as part of the ORCHID project, based in ECS, that investigates how human and software agents can work effectively together in various settings including Smart Grids and emergency response.

AAMAS is the largest and most influential conference in the area of agents and multi-agent systems. It aims to bring together researchers and practitioners to provide a single, high-profile, internationally renowned forum for research in the theory and practice of autonomous agents and multi-agent systems.

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