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Energy innovation and technology: Consumer engagement and data

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Neil Horrocks

Project Manager

The University of Queensland

Presentation title: Project SHIELD – a novel approach to data for networks


Abstract: Australia’s Distribution Network Service Providers (DNSP) are currently facing unprecedented challenges. The transition to a dynamic, decentralised and carbon-free electricity ecosystem is a systemic shift with no blueprint. To ensure that the transition is successful, whilst keeping the networks operating in a safe, reliable and affordable manner as well as handling an increasing number of variable renewable energy (VRE) generators, the planners and operators require visibility through data.
Unfortunately, adequate data is, with the exception of Victoria, not readily available to the Australian Distribution Network Service Providers. Project SHIELD (Synchronising Heterogeneous Information to Evaluate Limits for DNSP’s), supported by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), have set out to find what data sources are available for network purposes, what the penetration is, how useful the data is, how to access the data and at what cost.
May 2022 saw the conclusion of Stage 1 of the project, which provided answers to the above questions. This presentation will describe the approach taken by the project, the tools and systems used, and the answers to the above questions. The aims to test if and how various data options allow DNSPs to make VRE hosting capacity decisions and compare the costs and benefits of a data-enabled and data-driven approach to traditional forms of network augmentation. Project SHIELD is operated by luceo energy, Ergon, Energex, Essential Energy, GridQube and The University of Queensland.

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Martin Egan

PhD candidate

Institute for Sustainable Futures, UTS

Presentation title: A customer first approach to the energy transition


Abstract: Energy industries around the world are seeing a disruption of their business as their energy assets become democratised.

The consumers of energy are becoming owners of grid assets that generate and store energy, and these assets must be incorporated into the grid for security, stability, and commercial viability. While the technical and regulatory aspects of this changing landscape have been a focus, this presentation will demonstrate that the role of the user as a stakeholder has been overlooked and is causing problems in the attempt to change regimes.

This presentation will posit that this disruption and democratisation of assets is not unique to the energy industry, we have seen similar innovation and democratisation of business models in retail (Amazon), media (Facebook), finance (crowdfunding models) and even transport (Uber). These new behemoths of industry all have grown out of the new business methods of innovation and disruption that have sprung from the various Silicon Valley start-up practices. Practices such as Agile and Lean development that emphasises fast small experiments with the public, or Design Thinking and Human Centred Design that puts the customer or consumer at the heart of the business problem. These practices therefore should be looked to by the energy industries as they face the same problems, so that they too can adapt to the speed of innovation and find similar commercial value in disruption. This presentation aims to outline what practices can be learned from this customer centric innovation and how it can be applied to the energy industry.

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Shan (Dora) He

Research Fellow

The Australian National University

Presentation title: Neighbourhood batteries and virtual power plants provide better peak demand management per kWh compared to household batteries


Abstract: Neighbourhood batteries (NBs) are a promising new form of mid-scale energy storage offering numerous benefits for the electricity network, communities, and energy users in terms of local energy management, decarbonisation, and equity. In Australia, at least 500 NBs are promised to be rolled-out nationally from 2023. For this roll-out to positively contribute to a future decentralised and decarbonised energy system, the impacts of NBs need to be well understood. To date, however, no extensive modelling has been done to quantify the potential benefits of neighbourhood batteries, or to compare them against alternative energy storage options, including uncoordinated household (HH) batteries and household batteries that are coordinated to act as a virtual power plant (VPP). This work has addressed this gap by modelling and comparing the impacts of NBs, HH batteries, and VPPs on the basis of local energy management consumption and electricity costs.
We simulated a suburb of 100 households with 95% PV penetration and with three different battery storage scenarios. For the two household storage scenarios (HH and VPP), 35% of households had batteries. For the NB scenario, an NB equivalent to the total capacity of HH batteries was connected to the suburb. NBs and VPPs were optimally scheduled to maximise the local solar utilisation (SM), maximise the arbitrage revenue from the wholesale market (RM), or to maximise both the local solar utilisation and the arbitrage revenue (BL). HH batteries could only work in RM mode due to its restriction to only single household solar load and generation. Costs were based on NSW spot prices and two different community battery trial tariffs. The simulations used real electricity demand and solar PV data from the Next Generation Residential Battery Storage trial based in the ACT, Australia.
We found that, NB and VPP were able to have a much bigger impact on reducing average import and export peaks compared to HH household batteries. For example, NB and VPP were able to reduce average export peak power 82% in SM mode. Suburb-level peak demand management will support increasing amounts of rooftop solar, and the full electrification of our suburbs including transport. Our results show that NBs and VPPs will provide much more effective and much cheaper peak demand management per kWh compared to household batteries.

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Penelope Crossley

Associate Professor of Energy Law

The University of Sydney Law School

Presentation title: Why we need better regulation for the end of life renewable technologies: A case study on lithium ion batteries


Abstract: Over 90% of consumer batteries are dumped in landfill in Australia (ABRI, 2022). Battery waste is highly flammable, contains highly corrosive acids or alkalines, as well as toxic heavy metals such nickel, cadmium and lead (Claughton, 2022). This hazardous waste needs to be properly handled to avoid serious harm to the human health and safety and the environment. With lithium battery waste increasing by 20% annually to reach over 100,000 tonnes by 2036, the challenge of managing end of life batteries will grow significantly over the next decade (CSIRO, 2021).
Batteries are highly suitable for recycling at their end of life, with lead acid batteries capable of achieving 95% recovery rate. However, this recovery rate is not being achieved in Australia for all other battery chemistries as batteries are not collected at sustainable levels and regulatory frameworks are a barrier. The battery recycling industry’s vision is to facilitate a circular economy for all battery types by promoting safe and sustainable end of life battery management (ABRI, 2022).
Previous research has shown that regulatory failure is a significant barrier to battery recycling and reuse (CSIRO, 2021). The regulatory framework that governs the end of life of batteries in Australia is confusing and complex, spanning international conventions, UN frameworks, Commonwealth, state and territory laws. These laws:
• are not understood by consumers;
• are not uniform nationally, making interstate commerce difficult and subject to different compliance processes, decision makers, and portfolios by jurisdiction;
• differ significantly by battery chemistry, with mixed battery chemistries often not addressed at all;
• fail to consider how a battery moves through each stage of the end of life from decommissioning, collection, consolidation and storage, and finally transportation to a battery recycle; and
• do not consider that a battery may be (i) physically damaged, or (ii) reused (refurbished) or repurposed, along with all the associated supply chain and consumer product quality and safety management issues.
This regulatory failure imposes a significant time, financial and administrative burden on each stage of the battery recycling supply chain, which acts as a barrier to battery recycling and reuse.
This presentation will discuss these issues and how better regulation could improve the management of the end of life and reuse of lithium ion batteries.

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