A demand management platform trialled in South Australia by Origin Energy is set to be rolled out nationally, after the state-based test successfully shifted more than 200MWh of commercial and industrial load, while also delivering “significant savings” on electricity costs and emissions.
The SA government-backed trial was launched by Origin just over a year ago, in partnership with UK based company Tempus Energy – a start-up born out of the global utility-led accelerator program, Free Electrons.
The two companies rolled out Tempus’ cloud-based smart software to a range of Origin’s commercial and industrial customers – including Adelaide Oval and Adelaide University – allowing them to align their demand with the output of the state’s abundant renewable energy resources.
More specifically, the artificial intelligence platform means the C&I customers can run assets like industrial air conditioning more flexibly, predicting higher price periods and then shifting non-critical load into times of the day when prices are lower.
And the result appears to have been a resounding success – reducing stress on the grid at times of peak demand during the summer months, and delivering two-pronged savings for customers.
Interestingly, analysis from the trial showed a “very strong” correlation between electricity prices and carbon intensity – but not the sort of connection the Coalition government likes to claim exists between coal power and affordable energy.
Rather, says Origin, the prevailing trend revealed was of high pool prices signalling periods when carbon intensive generators were working.
Avoiding those high-price periods, the gen-tailer says, not only cut costs for the C&I customers, but helped to cut the carbon footprint of certain assets as well, by up to 21 per cent.
“During the trial, we’ve seen the Tempus algorithms drive a shifting of customer’s usual load to a different time of day in response to predicted high price periods,” said Origin’s executive general manager of energy supply and operations, Greg Jarvis on Monday.
“Across all trial customers, the trial has successfully shifted more than 200MWh of load to reduce their cost and carbon emissions.
“Expanding this trial is one way how we are helping our customers find smarter ways to improve how they use energy.”
Tempus Energy founder and CEO Sara Bell said her company, which set up an Australian office in Adelaide last year, was keen to continue its partnership with Origin to take the trial national.
“Results like these provide a real signal that the Tempus software can play an important role in helping customers reduce cost and help balance the grid,” she said.
As we noted at the time of the South Australia trial launch, the Tempus platform is precisely the sort of demand-side solution the Australian Energy Market Operator has said will be crucial for delivery of reliable electricity supply over Australian summers.
It is also a favourite of Energy Security Board chair and NEG architect, Kerry Schott, who once suggested that harnessing the technology effectively would mean 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 2017.
“It absolutely stuns me. It’s low-hanging fruit waiting to be plucked, particularly now we have technology that will really help,” she said.
Origin and Tempus have called on C&I electricity users with flexible assets like chillers, heat pumps, grid-scale batteries, solar systems and production machinery to contact Origin’s Business Energy Solutions Team at [email protected] if they are interested in taking part in the extended trial.
The national trial will run until mid-2019.