Efforts to harness valuable demand-side energy management resources in Australia are ramping up, with the announcement of a new trial led by gen-tailer Origin Energy in collaboartion with UK based start-up Tempus Energy.
The flexible energy demand trial, launched late last week, will be rolled out to up to 20 of Origin’s commercial and industrial customers in South Australia this coming summer, allowing them to align their demand with the output of the state’s abundant renewable energy resources.
The trial, which has the backing of the South Australian government, will use the smart software platform designed by Tempus, which launched its Australian business in Adelaide on Monday.
The technology uses artificial intelligence and smart algorithms to control and optimise when customers use flexible load, in a way that cuts the user’s electricity costs, while increasing overall grid stability.
According to Origin, it will also help to overcome the “intermittency challenges of renewables,” by using energy more efficiently and effectively.
“Demand-side management is one of those technologies we believe could have strong merit, and we’re excited to get our trial with Tempus Energy under way in South Australia so we can better understand the benefits and the customer proposition,” said Origin’s executive general manager future energy, Tony Lucas, in comments last week.
“There are a number of technologies we’re trialing at the moment that we believe could be part of the future energy mix that helps to maintain affordability and security of energy for our customers,” he said.
Tempus founder and CEO, Sara Bell, said South Australia was an ideal place to pilot her company’s technology.
“There are natural synergies in our endeavours to deliver a secure, reliable, affordable and clean power for the future, and the potential role of our technology to help customers take charge of their energy consumption,” Bell said.
“New markets have new challenges and Tempus Energy can help customers take advantage of renewables and use flexibility to take advantage of market volatility, bringing customers cheaper bills and ensure a more reliable energy system.”
Indeed, the Tempus platform is precisely the sort of demand-side solution that the Australian Energy Market Operator has pinpointed as crucial for deliveru of reliable electricity supply this summer, and in bringing down grid power costs in the future.
It has also been spotlightled by the chair of Australia’s newly formed Energy Security Board, Kerry Schott, who recently said that by harnessing the technology effectively, we could “all stop worrying about building new plants of any description.”
“I am completely amazed at the low level of demand management,” Schott told a public forum on energy sector strategic priorities, hosted by the Australian Energy Market Commission in September.
“It absolutely stuns me. It’s low-hanging fruit waiting to be plucked, particularly now we have technology that will really help,” she said.
Tempus, of course, knows all about this, and is seizing the moment in the rapidly evolving Australian market to claim a stake.
“The growth of zero marginal cost renewable generation has created conditions of oversupply and will eventually create undersupply when enough loss-making fossil fuel generation is retired,” Bell said in a statement.
“This over and under supply creates the pricing dynamic that enables innovation to flourish. Energy only markets, where they exist in the world, can function because high prices have created the investment case for fast response gas fired generation.
“Price risk during high demand/low supply events is mitigated by making the electrons in fast response gas fired generation. The same market conditions will create the investment case for a flexible demand-side and battery storage,” she said.