Researchers from the University of Queensland (UQ) School of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering are developing a world-first data platform that will harness information from potentially millions of households to enable deep, real-time analysis and control of household energy.

The project will draw on UQ’s world-class solar research facilities, local industry know-how and government support.

The information collected will feed back into a secure big data hub managed by UQ-based startup Redback Technologies, and will be used to provide instantaneous information to Redback customers.

UQ’s Professor Xiaofang Zhou said the big data collected would also enable monitoring of entire systems and would be used by energy retailers to ensure safer and more secure networks.

“Consumers will be empowered to take control over their household power generation, storage and consumption, and are expected to see big reductions in their power bills,”  Professor Zhou said.

“Analysis of the big data collected will provide insights about individual and system trends and, using machine learning, the tool will be able to make predictions and decisions about how consumers can most effectively use their energy.

“This data will become available to independent businesses, with researchers expecting a surge of new applications in the domestic energy analysis area.”

The UQ research team is working on the project in collaboration with industry partners including Redback Technologies, Energy Queensland and Springfield City Group.

UQ Power and Energy Systems Group Leader Professor Tapan Saha said the platform would bring enormous benefit to customers managing their own energy consumption.

“This will help to increase penetration of renewables in to the grid and tackle some of the key energy challenges the industry is facing.”

Energy Queensland Executive General Manager Asset Safety and Performance, Peter Price, said the development of such new technology solutions would transform the existing network to an intelligent grid and deliver safer outcomes for customers.

“The integration of big data analytics into our network management has many potential uses and we haven’t even scratched the surface of what we can do yet,” Mr Price said.

User-experience design researcher Dr Stephen Viller said effective data security and privacy were key to the success of such a tool.

“Consumers need to be able to trust the technology and make sense of what it is trying to do first, and then we can win them over with useful information and engaging visualisations.”

Springfield City Group Executive General Manager, Dr Richard Eden, said the project was an exciting development in solar and storage.

“We are delighted to be helping to lead the way with the Queensland Government and other innovative partners in the energy sector.”

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