Tag Archives: peak energy demand

energy data

Energy data assets platform to drive decision-makers

Main image: Dr Nariman Mahdavi Mazdeh is part of the research team centralising Australia’s energy data into the NEAR Program. (Image credit: CSIRO)

Launched on 21 February, the National Energy Analytics and Research ( Program brings together energy data assets from numerous sectors in a convenient, publicly-available resource. The federally-funded platform, accessible at near.csiro.au, is a collaboration between CSIRO, the Department of the Environment and Energy and the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) and brings together comprehensive information, including energy consumption patterns, demographics, building characteristics, appliance uptake, weather statistics, and more.

Currently, this type of data is held by numerous parties, formatted to different standards and access is often restricted. Research scientist Dr Nariman Mahdavi Mazdeh describes the energy data platform as “a one stop shop” for researchers and decision-makers. NEAR hosts data collected from across Australia (from sources such as AEMO, network distributors, energy retailers, smart meter data and energy consumers) and new research outputs that draw upon that data to answer some of the energy sector’s most pressing questions.

CSIRO project leader Dr Adam Berry says that the aim of NEAR is to make energy decision-making easier. “If you have a complex problem in the energy space and need data, you can discover research we’ve been conducting or data sets to conduct your own research,” says Dr Berry.

Some of the energy challenges the data will help address include:

  • Key drivers of energy consumption in Australian households.
  • How energy use has changed Australia-wide over the last decade.
  • National and regional opportunities to develop demand response programs.
  • Identifying risks in periods of system stress.
  • Planning grid upgrades and the integration of renewables.
  • The impact of retail energy tariffs on vulnerable and low-income consumers.

energy data

NEAR infographic (Image credit: CSIRO)

Effective demand response will save on network infrastructure costs, which will translate to lower electricity prices. “The research we’re trying to do contributes to how we can manage energy usage to benefit both the network and consumers,” says Dr Mazdeh.

Dr Berry is enthusiastic about the NEAR Program’s potential to help vulnerable consumers. “Low income households typically have fewer levers to pull in terms of access to distributed renewable energy and they are potentially more exposed to the pressures of cost,” he says. NEAR data is being used to investigate the impacts of retail energy tariffs, particularly in vulnerable consumer sectors. An

NEAR data has already been used in an ACCC Inquiry into retail electricity prices. One of the outcomes of that Inquiry was the development of a reference price, which assists consumers with finding the best deal across energy retailers.

“Who we are as modern Australian energy consumers is changing rapidly, and this is at the heart of the NEAR Program,” says Dr Berry. “We need to make the right decisions to contribute to an effective electricity system.”

For more on CSIRO energy research, read about the CSIRO Energise app here. Research based on surveying the app will also appear on the NEAR platform.

Larissa Fedunik

CSIRO energise banner

CSIRO Energise app to map Australian energy usage

Users of the CSIRO Energise app (available on Google Play and on the Apple App Store) share their energy costs and usage patterns through a range of ‘micro-surveys’, which will be used by the CSIRO to understand changing energy demands. The data will be shared with consumers, government and industry and could lead to improvements in the Australian energy network.

The app is a key component of CSIRO’s Energy Use Data Model project, which is collating and centralising various streams of energy data. “It’s designed to help us understand the changing world of energy”, explains Project Leader Dr Adam Berry. “Over the past years, we’ve seen huge changes in the energy sector, such as an increased uptake of renewables. This app aims to find out what this means for the average consumer.”

The micro-surveys cover topics such as household characteristics, power costs, energy-usage patterns, appliances and uptake of renewables, such as solar PV. CSIRO Energise has been designed as a two-way communication channel, so users will receive insights including tips for improving household energy efficiency and cutting-edge research updates as the energy data is analysed.

Dr Berry says that there is a current lack of data on how Australian households interact with energy. “We need to get better at forecasting energy demand if we want to create a more reliable and cheaper energy system. The app will help answer the big energy questions, such as who is paying the most for electricity and what’s driving peak demand.”

CSIRO Energise is the first of its kind. Unlike paper surveys, the app is able to follow users’ responses over time. It can ask questions in response to specific events, such as how heating is used on cold days, improving our understanding and management of peak energy consumption. “It’s the first time we’ve had the opportunity for longitudinal, long-term data collection”, says Dr Berry.

Dr Berry believes that this data collection platform will benefit researchers, government, industry and consumers.  “The results of the data analysis will be shared publicly and the plan is to work with industry and other bodies. This will be really valuable for the residential sector and will go a long way to lowering energy bills. It could also help certain sectors, such as city councils, find out how effective their energy policies are.”

Dr Berry is working hard to spread the word about CSIRO Energise to maximise the number of engaged users. “I genuinely believe that this will help us build an understanding of what modern energy use looks like across Australia.”

“That understanding is critical for developing the right research to deliver the most value possible to real Australian households.”

CSIRO Energise is available for download for free on Google Play and on the Apple App Store.

Source: CSIRO

microgrid

Disruptive microgrid clusters

Microgrids are independently managed, locally-generated energy grids that allow communities to supply and manage their own power supply.

A prime example of a microgrid is WA’s Alkimos Beach project, which will use lithium-ion batteries and rooftop solar to power a new housing development.

“Microgrids are becoming more of a reality than ever before, and not only for remote communities, but also on an urban and utility scale,” Curtin University’s Professor Arindam Ghosh says.

“They’re reliable, energy-diverse and environmentally friendly, and these advantages are driving microgrid research and development.”

Because urban microgrids can connect or disconnect from the main grid as required, they can also provide backup when the main grid goes down, Ghosh says.

For example, when Japan’s 2011 tsunami knocked out Sendai City’s power grid for weeks, the microgrid at its local university didn’t blink, using fuel cells, solar panels and natural gas turbines to power its way through the entire disaster.

But any grid can be knocked out when demand exceeds supply.

Cooperative resource sharing

“The main problem with microgrids is that you have limited resources,” Ghosh says.

“You might not have sufficient backup to cope with peak energy loads, which means there’s the possibility that your grid will go down.”

The answer is to create microgrid clusters, Ghosh says.

His research indicates that connecting independently managed microgrids enables mutual support during peak demand periods.

“Say you know you’re able to supply your microgrid with four generators, but for some reason—maintenance or failure—you lose one generator, you might have a shortfall of twenty or thirty kilowatts, and that’s enough for your microgrid to collapse,” he says.

“That’s when you need to ask your neighbour for help.”

If your microgrid is connected with a neighbour’s microgrid, you could fill your shortfall with their excess supply, but managing this sharing can become complicated, especially where grids are connected using a simple switch.

Ghosh’s simulations employed the more sophisticated option of connecting with a back-to-back converter.

“With a back-to-back converter, I have control over how much power I can take from my neighbour, and how much power I can send…it allows me to give you ‘X’ amount of power, but to keep the rest for myself,” he says.

Ghosh says reducing power demand during peak times is also essential.

– Cris Burne

This article was first published by ScienceNetwork WA on23 April 2016. Read the original article here.