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'Energy Masters' project: South Australians to benefit from smart and flexible homes

Media Release

SA Power Networks has welcomed announcement of Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) funding for 'Energy Masters', a collaborative project to demonstrate the customer and industry benefits of demand flexibility and smart electric homes.

ARENA has announced it will contribute $6.2 million toward the $13.8 million pilot, which aims to demonstrate the customer and energy industry benefits of demand flexibility, smart appliances and smart energy management systems in homes.

As customers move to further electrify their homes and transport, demand on the energy system could double by 2050. New demand-side flexibility technology enables customers to better optimise their in-home energy use, while supporting the needs of the grid at certain times. In turn, this helps to reduce the amount of additional generation, network and storage capacity needed to meet growing this demand.

ARENA has previously estimated that demand-side flexibility presents an opportunity to avoid between $20 billion and $30 billion in generation and network investment across Australia, which will in turn reduce the costs passed through to customers.

Energy Masters is being led by SA Power Networks, who are contributing $2.8 million to the initiative. The project brings together a unique group of industry partners including the Government of South Australia, retailers and technology innovators. 

Energy Masters aims to:

  • trial flexible appliances and home energy management technology,
  • trial simple, customer-focused ‘flexible’ energy service offerings (including both retailer and network offers) to access the benefits of flexible appliances and homes, and
  • share the learnings to make energy-smart homes a reality at scale across Australia.

Recruitment of 500 households to participate in the pilot will be led by the Government of South Australia and be launched later this year.

Participating customers will have access to appliance subsidies, simple retail offers, and a smart home energy management system to optimise their home energy use across devices such as solar panels, batteries, electric vehicle chargers, heat pump hot water systems and split-system air-conditioning which can respond to network and market signals.

In return, households will participate in a research program led by RACE for 2030, that will help demonstrate the value of energy-smart households and provide valuable information about device interoperability to inform the development of national standards.

SA Power Networks CEO Andrew Bills said “the customer focus of the pilot is exciting. We recognise the energy system is complex, so the pilot will seek to identify how we can overcome that for the benefit of customers in a way that will also enhance the way we manage our network.

“Much of the technology is available today but we need to identify how we bring together government incentives, retail offers, energy-smart appliances and energy management systems in a way that is understandable and attractive for energy customers” Andrew said.

“SA Power Networks is proud to be leading this unique collaboration of partners from across the energy industry to ensure the findings of the project can be adopted nationally and at scale.”

A public Energy Masters website will be launched soon by the South Australian government, with more information about eligibility and how to apply.

Key components of the pilot are:

  • Installation of a Home Energy Management System (HEMS) and efficient electric appliances with dedicated subsidy support.
  • Development and trial of new retail energy offers and demand flexibility technologies.
  • An 18-month research program exploring technical, policy and behavioural challenges and opportunities.
  • Inform the design of interoperability standards to inform future scale-up and national adoption of two-way demand flexibility.

Full list of project partners:

  • Project Lead: SA Power Networks
  • Household Engagement Partner: Government of South Australia, Department of Energy & Mining
  • Research Partner: RACE for 2030
  • HEMS Technology Partner: Clipsal Cortex
  • Installation Partner: MAC Trade Services
  • Energy Retail Partners: Amber Electric and EnergyAustralia
  • Delivery Partner and Finance Provider: Plenti

This Project is receiving funding from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA).

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