Australian smart buildings trial to test flexible demand response tech

Australian smart buildings trial to test flexible demand response tech
Image courtesy CSIRO

An AU$11 million ($7.1 million) project led by CSIRO, Australia’s national science agency, will drive the development of flexible demand for energy technologies, with the aim of easing pressure on the energy grid.

The Digital Infrastructure Energy Flexibility (DIEF) pilot project will bring together a consortium of project sponsors responsible for funding, research outcomes, coordinating artificial intelligence competitions and onboarding buildings onto a digital platform in the hopes of developing flexible demand tech.

Flexible demand, states CSIRO, is an alternative to the traditionally rigid energy network infrastructure, offering a way to lighten the load on the grid during busy periods. However, the flexible demand approach is still nascent and requires new technologies, market processes and ways of engaging with energy users.

The DIEF pilot will address these issues, whereby up to 200 buildings, selected by the consortium will be connected to CSIRO’s Data Clearing House Platform (DCH), which will act as the digital infrastructure for the project.

DCH is a software platform for owners and operators of existing or new commercial, industrial, government and mixed-use developments to connect with service providers to solve common data-related problems.

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flexible demand trials
Image courtesy CSIRO

CSIRO’s energy director, Dr Dietmar Tourbier, said the DIEF project would help improve the viability and uptake in flexible demand, delivering benefits to consumers and industry alike:

“Flexible demand is critical because it ensures grid stability, reduces costs, supports increasing renewable energy integration and enables a more sustainable and efficient energy system.”

The project will allow property owners within the pilot to share data and build innovative software applications for sophisticated management of building carbon emissions.

Property owners will be able to identify opportunities for energy flexibility and productivity improvements resulting in reduced operating costs and energy use.

Dr Stephen White. Image courtesy CSIRO.

The data collected during the trial will be used to inform Government on the creation of a flexible demand policy and asset register.

Commented CSIRO chief research consultant for energy, Dr Stephen White: “This technology will not only allow people to get data out of their buildings and make it accessible to their service providers, but they will also be able to receive data from external providers such as the electricity market and the Bureau of Meteorology.”

Of the 200 buildings to be connected, the DCH expects to gain access to devices that consume over five megawatts of power from the grid, up to 0.08% of total demand in NSW. The power usage of these devices can be intelligently controlled to match up with periods of high renewable generation.

The DCH Platform forms part of CSIRO’s developing Smart Energy Mission which is focused on building Australia’s next generation of integrated and equitable energy systems.

Members of the NSW consortium who are sponsoring the project include CSIRO, the NSW Government, Amber Electric, DNA Energy, EVSE Australia, Nube iO, Property and Development NSW, RACE for 2030 CRC, UNSW, UOW, and Wattwatchers.

The project was funded with an AU$3.75 million ($2.43 million) grant from the NSW Government, under the Net Zero Plan Stage 1: 2020-2030. The remaining funding (cash and in-kind) was provided by consortium members and in-kind funding from CSIRO.