To help the energy sector plan for future infrastructure and policy needs, the CSIRO is bringing together Australia’s energy use data onto one publicly available online platform – the Energy Use Data Model (EUDM).
Knowing how Australians use energy can help the sector create networks, products, technologies and policies to meet the future needs of consumers.
CSIRO’s new Energy Use Data Model system aims to be a one-stop-shop for this energy use data and help researchers and policymakers better understand the contemporary Australian energy user.
Adam Berry, CSIRO Grids and Energy Efficiency Systems Research Group Leader, said the EUDM will provide new and improved datasets to what is currently available, including data held by networks.
“By bringing together consumer characteristics and consumption, and then enhancing the data through innovative research, utilities will have access to brand new outputs that could unlock the connection between customer type and network need,” Dr Berry said.
“This will give us insight into the drivers of peak energy consumption, potential impacts of new energy pricing proposals and – with longitudinal data – the basis for deep forecasting about what our energy system of the future needs to deliver.”
Filling the gaps in energy data
The CSIRO is working to collect existing data from across the sector, including datasets that have never been publically released, and combine this with new large-scale surveys and an ongoing research program.
The data itself will include energy consumption, household demographics, building characteristics, technology uptake, market data, appliance usage and environmental data, for residential and commercial customers. A robust process for managing energy data ethics and privacy is in place, built by CSIRO data experts.
Dr Berry said despite the ever increasing amount of data available, there are still some gaps in the energy industry.
“Little data is available that links fine-grained energy use with critical energy consumer characteristics. Without such data, it is difficult to design systems or policy that will deliver value for consumers.
“For example, if there is little information on how low income earners in apartment buildings use energy on a daily basis then delivering energy products or services that are tailored for those consumers becomes very hard,” Dr Berry said.
As Australia continues to embrace an open approach to data, other platforms like EUDM have been emerging, but Dr Berry said none have had a sole focus on energy use before.
“The AREMI platform, developed by Data61, provides a fantastic illustration of what can be done to make data both more accessible and more usable. It brings critical renewable energy datasets together into a compelling visualisation platform.
“But EUDM is differentiated as it has an exclusive focus on energy use data, and will therefore include specialised data curations and tailored search features that are built for researchers operating in that space.
“We are also working with researchers, data holders, policy makers, consultants, network businesses, regulators and peak bodies from across the Australian energy sector.”
The EUDM project includes an external panel of stakeholders that review its key activities, including the Department of Environment and Energy, the Australian Energy Market Operator, the Clean Energy Regulator, Energy Networks Australia and Energy Consumers Australia.
Making data meaningful
The Energy Use Data Model itself is an online platform that is designed to make data easily accessible and presented in a way that offers insight into the critical issues facing the energy sector.
“The EUDM will bring together complex energy data and research from across the energy sector and make it freely available to researchers across the globe.
“It will not only identify the need for new products and services to add value to the energy landscape but it will also provide insight into how energy efficiency influences how we use energy, how electricity pricing changes our behaviour, and the way renewable energy is shaping our nation’s energy system.
“By sharing this information through a single platform, we will help to ensure that evidence-based policy, sector forecasts and business analyses are all built on a strong foundation,” Dr Berry said.
While assessing Australia’s energy consumption is not a new concept, the dramatic changes in the sector over the last few years have made it more important to have data available that provides guidance to the industry.
“The energy landscape is changing rapidly due to the uptake of solar PV and the increasing interest in other distributed energy solutions, such as home energy storage.
“The Australian energy system is evolving from a uni-directional radial supply to a bi-directional system where the consumer is now an active participant in and provider to the system as a whole,” Dr Berry said.
“The continuing rollout of network metering, consumer smart meters and the emergence of IoT and smart appliances means that there is an ever-growing wealth of data that will help us build impactful solutions for energy customers.
“But, this inevitably requires dedicated data science capabilities to make the most of these opportunities, by increasing data access through EUDM and by deploying science techniques that ensures the data delivers value back to utilities and researchers.”