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Program director at the Centre for New Energy Technologies (C4NET), Ruchika Deora, explains why Australia’s transition to a new energy future will not be a smooth one without a massive shift in operational and market management.

The rapid increase in hyper-localised, consumer driven technologies resulting from current solar, heating and cooling, Electric Vehicle (EV) and storage trends, collectively known as Distributed Energy Resources (DER),require systematic management to ensure we maintain a cost efficient, secure and reliable electricity supply that also supports our environmental objectives.

But the path to successfully integrate and accommodate these DER is littered with political hurdles, conjecture and technical and regulatory complexity. Traditional power system planning and assessment tools are neither sufficiently nor efficiently managing customer and market requirements. And this means industry requires new ways to ensure network and market stability quickly. 

Thankfully, the recent democratisation of multiple data streams means that the opportunities to use detailed analysis to inform our system planning do exist. However, access to reliable electricity consumption data will be key to ensuring that evidence-based decision making will guide the entire sector into our new energy paradigm.

The Centre for Emerging Technologies (C4Net) - https://c4net.com.au/ - have access to this energy consumption data as well as the experts to be able to model this data to provide useful insights to any interested party. Their Data Access Services now allow any interested group to request their aggregated data.

Big data was originally associated with three key concepts: volume, variety, and velocity, better defined as how much, how many types and how fast. But recently two arguably more important “Vs” have emerged – value and veracity. Data itself can have intrinsic value, but can be worthless until that value is uncovered and applied. Equally, without veracity - how truthful is your data and how reliable it is – your data has no value.

In the past, detailed visibility of low voltage systems wasn’t necessary to efficiently manage the secure and cost-effective supply of electricity to consumers. But, as more consumers become generators and exporters of electricity, local power quality maintenance is essential in meeting policy and compliance objectives. Confidence in network performance, i.e. voltage management and line impendence, is fundamental for system and market planners to manage bi-directional power flows to meet customer needs.

It would not be a stretch to say that the current system of modelling growth and capacity is not keeping pace with the commercialisation of consumer technologies that influence power system operations. But it does not have to be so.

For instance, AMI meter data can inform what is happening on the network at specific times and locations, from how much electricity load is being exported onto or drawn from feeders and transformers. Other new forms of modelling AMI data can assist in phase grouping of customers, topology estimates, impedance levels of distribution lines and service cables and identification of unmetered loads.

This level of visibility enables more uptake of new DER and renewable energy based on the capacity and capability of existing assets. It also helps guide infrastructure investment decisions based on real world information.

In Victoria, we are not only fortunate to have a high penetration of smart meters, but also that the data from these smart meters is available to a variety of stakeholders.

Interested parties such as community energy groups clamouring for data can now request their actual consumption by local government area or post code so that they can better understand commercial and retail options available to them. Achieving greener energy independence is also possible through the assessment of NMI level consumption data.

Explore the data.  Build data models with machine learning and artificial intelligence. Put the data to work.

About the author

Ruchika Deora has more than 20 years global experience in the energy sector and  has worked with emerging start ups and Fortune Five companies to incorporate data informed insights to drive profitability.

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