Data helps understand energy consumption

Friday, 22 February, 2019

Data helps understand energy consumption

A new research program from CSIRO, the Australian Government and the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) brings together data and research in one central location to help deliver a secure, affordable and sustainable energy future in Australia.

The National Energy Analytics and Research (NEAR) Program collects, integrates and enhances information about Australia’s energy use, which is then delivered through a tailored web platform to help underpin decision-making.

Data such as energy consumption patterns, demographics, building characteristics, appliance uptake and weather statistics is currently held by numerous parties, formatted to different standards, and access is often restricted — which creates challenges in getting a complete picture of energy market needs. The NEAR Program brings together data not previously available and drives much-needed data innovation.

Figures from the Clean Energy Regulator suggest that over $25 billion will be invested in 18.8 GW of new renewable generation in the Australian energy sector from 2018–2020. The successful integration of this investment will depend on accurate long-term forecasting of Australia’s energy production, transmission and use, which is where the NEAR program comes in.

“In times of rapid change in the energy sector, we need rich data to plan for the energy system of tomorrow,” said CSIRO project leader Dr Adam Berry.

“This is particularly true in summer, when the Australian energy system is most under strain due to high consumer demand and the increased likelihood of extreme weather events.

“Major investments in our energy system depend on accurate, long-term forecasting, and NEAR Program data and research can support dramatic improvements in the way we do this.”

Over periods of extreme heat or system stress, outputs from the NEAR program will help identify areas of risk and provide evidence to support appropriate demand-response options. It will also address increasing energy costs, linking consumer patterns with energy sector data to build a fuller picture of the modern Australian energy user. This will support research focused on simultaneously increasing comfort and lowering costs for Australian homes.

According to Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Karen Andrews, research from the program has already delivered a rich collection of data products, identifying the impact of retail tariffs on vulnerable consumers; national and regional opportunities for demand response programs; key drivers of energy consumption for Australian households; and the evolution of energy consumption across Australia over the last decade.

For example, it has contributed important data to the ACCC’s Retail Electricity Prices Inquiry, quantifying the impact of tariff structures on electricity costs for Australian households.

The federal government has invested more than $20 million to develop the NEAR program, which it says will help develop capabilities in understanding and planning for the future.

Image credit: ©Victoria/Dollar Photo Club

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