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Getting Out From Behind the Meter

The following post is based on my presentation at the Smart Energy Expo and Conference – Sydney April 11th 2018.

The term “Behind the Meter” (BTM) reflects how the power system used to work and should be retired. The phrase infers that resources installed behind the meter are hidden, inaccessible and disconnected. The NEM should be is a single power system with central and distributed resources. The notion of customer versus utility generation is no longer valid as the grid is not as easily segmented anymore. The end consumer is driving the deployment of new distributed technology and is an integral, active and informed participant in the current energy transformation.

Distributed energy resources (DER) provide new opportunities to manage the power system through the development of innovative products and services. Accessing data to understand in more detail how DER are being used by consumers is key to driving innovation in this space. There are a number of static and dynamic data points available that provide a detailed view of DER. Unfortunately, the data is stored in a variety of locations, in different formats and collected based on the priorities of the collecting organisation.

Data access is a hot topic for many organisations. Effective and efficient data collection and distribution is challenging to implement. The value of data is often not known until users have an opportunity to perform an analysis thus highlighting the importance of data access. In this case, the value of the DER data is already well understood which only confirms the need for better access.

There are examples of good customer data access programs, such as the Green Button Alliance in the US that ensures easy access to detailed usage data in a consistent data format. But other markets, such as the National Grid in the UK, are experiencing similar access issues as the NEM.

Through our work to develop a national Energy Storage Register in conjunction with the Smart Energy Council, we have experienced firsthand some of the difficulties engaging with stakeholders to access DER data. This process was undertaken in parallel to the COAG National Battery Storage Register consultation process.

The benefits of a national storage register are well understood. With many competing priorities, the stakeholder that drives the process is likely to define the key register priorities. The goal of our process was to explore the different motivation that a variety of industry stakeholders would have to provide data to a register. With great potential to help consumers and facilitate new products and services, there is a need to take a collaborative approach and to make the register work beyond just pure regulation.

After talking to many people it was clear that a sustainable, collaborative, industry-led solution that provides easy access to data is what the storage industry requires to manage the anticipated rapid deployment of distributed resources. Our work with the Smart Energy Council has led us to believe that national Energy Storage Register underpinned by a well-designed data collection and distribution process that serves all stakeholders could be developed. The data available from the register would be of sufficient value that the beneficiary would be willing to pay.

A milestone of the Energy Storage Register development was the implementation of the Battery Finder which provides a list of residential storage products available in Australia. The Battery Finder demonstrates the value of a single source of truth for homogeneous data and the value of a comprehensive data set.

The outcome of the COAG consultation process supported the development of a national register for DER to be administered by AEMO commencing at the end of 2018. As an interim measure, the CER will update the current STC register to collect battery data. The AEMO and the CER were the only two entities considered to manage the register in the COAG consultation process cost-benefit analysis. An industry-led solution was not considered. In light of the decision, Global-Roam made a commercial decision to stop development on the Energy Storage Register and we are currently supporting the CER process through the provision of battery data.

Everybody agrees that data access, sharing and transparency is a good step forward in the industry. A national register for DER is necessary for the development of the industry but it will be not easy to implement. What ever process is in place the industry should support the register and work to keep the consumer at the heart of the outcomes.