How data-driven solutions are set to transform the power sector

lightbulb, ENA, data

Australia is an attractive market for the development of renewable-powered solutions with plenty of geographical space and sunshine making us an early adopter of renewable technologies like wind and solar, writes Paul Liddell, CTO, Redback Technologies.

In the past few years, we’ve seen rapid innovation of residential and commercial solar solutions making them smarter, more affordable and accessible nationwide.

According to a new report published by the United Nations, Australia’s renewable energy investment has jumped 147 per cent in the last year, reaching $11 billion.

In Australia, there are more homeowners and businesses than ever before that are switching to clean energy technologies to reduce their power bills and decrease their overall carbon footprint.

Rising power prices
Choice Consumer Pulse released a report last year that revealed more than 80 per cent of homeowners and businesses are concerned with rising power prices in Australia.

To combat the issue, government, industries, businesses and homeowners must work to reduce or better manage peak demand, the morning and evening periods when high demand drives up power prices.

The development of solar-powered solutions will allow utilities and network operators to adopt a more flexible approach to how they manage the grid, smoothing out peaks in demand, while powering more of the total grid consumption with clean and renewable sources.

We’re already seeing how an increased uptake of solar-powered technologies and energy storage like batteries is playing a major role in offsetting demand during peak usage periods.

For most households, demand for power is at its lowest during the middle part of the day when the sun is at its strongest. By using rooftop solar coupled with energy storage solutions, this means homeowners and businesses can store excess solar power from the middle part of the day and use it in peak periods like the morning or evening.

For example, homeowners and businesses can run power intensive devices and appliances like air-conditioners using their own solar-generated power once home in the evening, lowering overall demand on the grid and the potential risk of blackouts.

As the price of renewable technologies and energy storage like batteries continues to decrease, the greater the likelihood homeowners and businesses will be able to use renewable sources like wind and solar to lower demand on the grid during these peaks.

A smart future
The introduction of smart technologies will mean utilities will also be able to use technologies like the Internet of Things (IoT) to work with individual homeowners and businesses to help reduce peaks in demand.

Although IoT-enabled technologies are still in the early stages of implementation, we’re starting to see how intelligent tools can revolutionise the way utilities, businesses and homeowners produce, transmit and consume power.

The proliferation of smart technologies and rising power prices has driven consumer demand for solutions that provide greater control of household power consumption.

The integration of IoT will enable power providers to better service the market and spark a new wave of technologies that optimise legacy energy management devices.

For example, where there is an abundance of sunshine and solar power, an IoT-enabled energy system can recognise the extra power being generated and turn on any number of smart appliances to use as much of the energy as possible before storing the power or selling back to the grid.

All of this can be controlled from a device like a smartphone or tablet giving users more transparency and connectivity to their energy systems.

Today’s energy environment demands real-time intelligence, giving consumers more control to take advantage of cheaper electricity tariffs by switching on at off peak times during the day.

A homeowner can shift a dishwasher’s energy load to be aligned with the lowest rates.
By providing this level of control, the smart home moves from awareness of power consumption to the true optimisation of it.

Having a system that connects to smart appliances in the home allows consumers to be smarter about their power consumption, without compromising on their everyday comforts.

We’re focused on creating IoT-enabled energy systems that provide end-consumers with real-time energy usage information and home energy management, placing the power back in the hands of the Australians who generate it and giving them control over how it is used.

The grid of the future will make the most efficient use of power, limiting our dependence on fossil fuels, increasing the proportion of renewables and reducing our overall carbon footprint.

We’re optimistic a smart grid will help ease the pain of rising power prices and optimise how power is consumed.