Intellihub drives Australia’s largest flexible demand trial

Intellihub staff hold smart meter (Telstra)
Image: Intellihub

Australian and New Zealand-based utility services provider Intellihub has been given $9.75 million via ARENA to launch a Demand Flexibility Platform targeting 510MW of aggregated load under control through the enrolment of over 140,000 customer devices.

Flexible demand is the coordinated orchestration of electrical usage to ease pressure on the grid. As variable renewable sources like wind and solar produce a greater share of Australia’s electricity generation, solutions are required to help match up supply and demand.

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Intellihub’s $22 million project will initially target integration with residential hot water systems and solar PV, before expanding to incorporate other customer energy resources (CER) such as batteries, electric vehicle chargers and pool pumps over a two-year period.

Electricity retailers will be able to sign up households to the Demand Flexibility Platform and use it to manage their customers’ CER as part of a Virtual Power Plant (VPP). Intellihub will provide the interface between electricity retailers and customer-owned devices.

Participating CER can then be turned on or off to better manage supply and demand across electricity networks and wholesale markets. Intellihub estimates that this could help reduce household energy costs by over a hundred dollars per year for each device enrolled on its platform.

The project will leverage two recent Intellihub acquisitions: the deX CER integration and aggregation software developed by GreenSync and remote pool monitoring, optimisation and control technology called ‘Pooled’.

Intellihub will leverage its network of 2 million smart meters across the National Electricity Market and retailer relationships to interface with a range of CER devices with the goal of enrolling more than 140,000 devices in the medium term.

The vast majority of CER is currently ‘inflexible’, meaning it’s not possible to harness the benefits of flexibility from the gigawatts of energy that they generate or consume. To date, the industry has not been able to efficiently aggregate these resources at scale due to the cost and complexities of integrating multiple device types and device manufacturers.

Intellihub CEO Wes Ballantine said, “We now have the smarts to manage the energy these devices consume, so they become a flexible energy resource.

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“They will work like a large battery energy system, soaking up excess daytime solar energy and avoiding consumption during peak demand periods to reduce stress on the system.

“There is enormous benefit from being smarter about how we manage these resources, not just for the energy system but for consumers and local communities.”

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