Monash University has embarked on a landmark research project: Digital Energy Futures.
The project aims to better understand how emerging technologies are shaping the way people live – and, ultimately, the future energy needs of Australian households.
A three-year, $2.3 million research initiative, Digital Energy Futures is a collaboration across Monash faculties and with key industry partners Ausgrid, AusNet Services and Energy Consumers Australia.
Led by Associate Professor Yolande Strengers and Professor Sarah Pink from the Monash Emerging Technologies Research Lab, Digital Energy Futures will draw on future-focused social science research.
The project team plans to develop models for tracking and predicting peak electricity demand and broader consumption. Associate Professor Strengers, from the Faculty of Information Technology, believes this will significantly benefit households.
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“More accurate forecasting will lower infrastructure costs and, subsequently, electricity prices for residential consumers,” Ms Strengers said.
Digital Energy Futures will also create demand management solutions for businesses, helping them meet future consumption targets. According to Professor Pink, the outcomes of this initiative can be applied to a range of sectors.
“The project will allow us to develop new methods and principles for understanding human-centred energy and technology futures. This will ultimately have implications and transferability to other industry contexts,” she said.
Digital Energy Futures is funded through the Australian Research Council’s Linkage Projects Scheme.
The CEO of Energy Consumers Australia, Rosemary Sinclair, is enthusiastic about the partnership.
“This valuable collaboration will help us build and maintain consumer confidence, understand their energy use and improve forecasting. Our industry will, therefore, be more responsive and flexible to future energy needs,” Ms Sinclair said.
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The CEO of Ausgrid, Richard Gross, said the project aligns with his organisation’s long-term goals.
“Residential households want more affordable, reliable and sustainable energy solutions, and we’re working smarter to meet these needs. Partnering with Monash and our customers will help us identify changing trends in household electricity demand. With this deeper understanding of energy use, we can improve our services,” Mr Gross explained.
AusNet Services executive general manager Alistair Parker agrees that insights from Digital Energy Futures will allow the industry to better anticipate consumers’ evolving needs.
He explains, “At AusNet Services, we incorporate our customers’ preferences in our future strategies. This project is unique because it focuses on people, exploring what they say and do. Digital Energy Futures will change the way we plan for the future by improving how we forecast energy demand”.