Members of the CONSORT project are trying to answer the question:
How do electricity networks and customers work together constructively to meet their needs?
To solve this problem the CONSORT team are studying customer-owned batteries, network-aware control, payments for network services provided by batteries and customer acceptance of the technology involved. It all comes together in the project’s title: CONSumer energy systems providing cost-effective grid suppORT – CONSORT.
Participating customers will have a subsidised battery system installed at their house (with either a new or existing PV system). The battery system will automatically operate so as to best manage household load and solar generation, for example storing excess solar generation during the day for use later in the evening, while also helping to manage the electricity network. This world-first co-operative effort and the successful research outcomes it will produce will happen through collaboration between participants and the entire CONSORT project team.
The CONSORT project team is made up of industrial partners Reposit Power and TasNetworks, and researchers from the Australian National University, The University of Sydney and the University of Tasmania. Each of their roles in answering this question are described below.
For consumers who own distributed Energy Systems such as batteries, and who want to actively participate in the electricity system, Reposit Power provides a trading and control system. Reposit’s team members are working to extend their existing system and integrate it with all aspects of the CONSORT project. Reposit’s system will be used to test the new control software, provide consumer with different user experiences to examine distinctive types of offerings, and record and report on consumer behaviour.
TasNetworks is the transmission and distribution service provider in Tasmania. In the CONSORT project, TasNetworks will act as a customer, purchasing network support services from electricity users equipped with batteries, via the Reposit system. TasNetworks’ team members will also provide guidance to battery installers, and will help the universities develop service offerings that a typical utility would be willing to use.
The Australian National University (ANU)
ANU has a group of about 20 researchers working in the area of automated planning and scheduling. ANU team members will work to deploy network-aware coordination algorithms that will work in conjunction with the Reposit system, to automatically and optimally coordinate a large number of batteries. This allows battery owners to contribute network services to TasNetworks, thus helping to balance demand and generation on the island in order to prevent capacity and voltage problems across the network, while also minimising their own energy bill.
The University of Sydney (USYD)
USYD has a large group of researchers working in the area of power and energy engineering, within the Centre for Future Energy Networks. USYD team members will work to derive fair and easy-to-understand reward structures. These are ways of calculating payments to battery owners, which will reflect the value to TasNetworks of the network support services they contribute, and provide the certainty over future payments needed to encourage investment in batteries, all while remaining within TasNetworks’ network support budget.
University of Tasmania (UTAS)
UTAS will research the social acceptance of the technology. They will investigate householders’ use of the real-time feed of information, the decisions made in relation to this information, and, more general responses to the Reposit system’s user interface and associated technology. These social research question will be investigated alongside the research questions being investigated by the other university partners.
ARENA was established to make renewable energy solutions more affordable and increase the supply of renewable energy in Australia. ARENA has two objectives: improve the competitiveness of renewable energy technologies, and increase the supply of renewable energy in Australia. ARENA is providing $2.9M in funding to CONSORT as part of the second round of its R&D Programme.