Smart data hub opens up renewable energy potential


By Amy Steed
Wednesday, 25 March, 2020



Smart data hub opens up renewable energy potential

A consumer-facing energy data hub is under development by Wattwatchers, aiming to provide better visibility for energy use in the home.

My Energy Marketplace’ monitors energy data in real time, combining this data with Internet of Things (IoT) technologies and smart appliances into an app store model.

It enables users to access their data with mobile apps, take valuable data with them when they change energy providers and decide for themselves whether to allow other companies to use it.

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has provided $2.7 million in funding for the three-year $8 million project, which could also assist with integrating renewables into the electricity system.

“Whether it’s rooftop solar, battery storage, energy efficiency, controlling electricity loads and appliances remotely, or the uptake of electric vehicles, we need better data to effectively run the future grid consisting of more and more decentralised consumer energy assets,” said ARENA CEO Darren Miller.

“The Wattwatchers project is designed to provide both the data and consumer participation needed to manage an increasingly decentralised electricity system. This also aligns strongly with other ARENA-funded initiatives for DER, demand response and new marketplaces.”

Indeed, Wattwatchers’ platform will allow third parties such as the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) and distribution network service providers (DNSPs) to pay for access to consumer data to get better visibility of the state of the network, the impact of consumer behaviour and growth of distributed energy resources. Granular data also allows consumers to provide demand response during peak energy usage periods.

An Australia-wide My Energy Marketplace rollout is being planned, with the installation of ARENA-subsidised Wattwatchers smart energy solutions at 5000 homes and small businesses. The technology will also be implemented at 250 schools, providing participants with data, communications and software services for three years.

“With more and better data, consumers will be better informed to buy their energy. They can identify and take action on energy efficiency opportunities, both behavioural and appliance-driven, and use energy at times that suit them,” said Wattwatchers CEO Gavin Dietz.

“Network businesses and market operators currently have poor visibility of the low-voltage grid, which is connected to over 10 million Australian consumer sites, and face a mission-critical challenge to both see and control DER as Australia moves to higher and higher penetration of renewable energy, especially small-scale solar.”

Dietz said the founding vision for Wattwatchers dates back to 2007 — when energy costs were only half what they are now and there were only 7000 rooftop solar systems in the whole country.

“Fast forward to 2020 and our vision now is an ‘app store for energy’ business model, which will give electricity consumers unprecedented control over their energy data, with portability and choice of apps and services,” he said.

“The Wattwatchers MEM team is now actively recruiting new channel partners including local councils, school communities, citizen initiatives, industry associations, member-based organisations and corporate partners. Deployment at home, small business and school sites will begin in earnest in a few months’ time, ramping up throughout the 2021 financial year.”

Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/Artur

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