We have a new paper published today in Energy Research & Social Science.
- Energy professionals and citizens hold diverse values on algorithm design, governance and the energy transition generally.
- Differences in how values are interpreted and which values are emphasised suggest future points of conflict (and injustice).
- Systemic issues raised both down and upstream of the technology suggest distributed responsability ill suited to centralised governance.
- Our focus on responsibility and justice reorients the problem to re-design rather than accommodation.
Pre-print is freely available below and the published paper is available at https://authors.elsevier.com/c/1ely67tZ6ZxQoB
If networks could charge for localised use of their service, all customers in areas with high PV and community-scale batteries would pay lower bills … with no cost to the network, research shows.
Is rooftop solar a problem in the suburbs? Apparently so, with rising PV exports prompting falls in feed-in tariffs, plans for export charges in Adelaide and deployment of community-scale batteries in many cities.
As the grid transitions away from coal, it seems as though rooftop solar is part of the solution and part of the problem at the same time. Is there a simple solution that could see all that excess solar energy shared equitably and leave customers better off?
Yes, there is. Or there could be, if networks were allowed more flexibility in how they charge for their services.
Full story in ecogeneration
ABC TV’s Catalyst program was one of my favorite TV shows growing up, so it was a bit of a dream to get to be a part of the recent episode about the transformation of the electricity system.
The episode did a fantastic job, covering a huge range of the interesting developments underway across the system and the country, explaining the crucial facts and trends, and presenting everything in interesting, engaging and understandable ways.
So, I’d highly recommend giving watching here https://www.abc.net.au/catalyst/the-grid-powering-the-future/13491654
A new project led by the Australian National University will assess the feasibility of transitioning regional New South Wales communities from grids exposed to bushfires and other natural disasters to a resilient network of islandable renewables and battery-based microgrids.
The Southcoast Microgrid Reliability Feasibility (SµRF) project was last week named as one of 20 projects around Australia to be awarded a share of $25.6 million in funding via round two of the federal government’s Regional and Remote Communities Reliability Fund.
The project is being led the Battery Storage and Grid Integration Program at ANU in partnership with the Southcoast Health and Sustainability Alliance (SHASA), network company Essential Energy, and technology company Zepben.
How can we share the benefits of rooftop solar with the millions of Australian who don’t own a roof?
In greater Sydney, alone, as One Step Off The Grid has reported, 2017 census data showed nine council areas had more than half of residents “locked out” of solar by their rental status. And in North Sydney, almost three-quarters of residents couldn’t access solar due to being renters or living in apartment buildings.
The quest to make solar available to renters in Australia is the focus of a new project led by researchers at Australian National University and will tackle the problem at a policy level, by providing governments with evidence of what interventions are likely to succeed.
A series of grants totaling over half a million dollars have been awarded to researchers from four institutions to delve into making Australia’s energy markets more fair and equitable.
“These projects have each demonstrated the potential to make significant positive impact in areas where consumers are currently not best served by the energy system,” Energy Consumers Australia chief executive officer Lynne Gallagher said.
With Australians who live in rental properties seven times less likely to have rooftop solar, researchers from Australian National University (ANU) have been granted $77,070 to discover and advise on what policies will best address the discrepancy.
Exploring ways for renters to benefit from solar power and renewable energy transition is the focus of a new project at The Australian National University (ANU).
Led by Dr Lee White, Mara Hammerle and Dr Bjorn Sturmberg, the project, How can we involve renters in the renewable energy transition in Australia? has secured funding from Energy Consumers Australia.
The Battery Storage and Grid Integration Program at the Australian National University, along with project partners Southcoast Health and Sustainability Alliance, network operator Essential Energy, and technology company Zepben, are delighted by news of successful project funding under the Regional and Remote Communities Reliability Fund (RRCRF) – microgrids 2020-21.
The Southcoast Microgrid Reliability Feasibility (SµRF) project will engage NSW South Coast Eurobodalla residents, businesses, and Essential Energy in planning the transition from a bushfire exposed grid to a resilient grid of islandable microgrids.
The project partners will receive $3.125M in funding over three years under the RRCRF to:
- conduct community-led design of future energy systems, quantifying the value of reliability;
- model the operation of eight microgrids across the region using high-resolution monitoring data and develop a holistic assessment of implementation costs; and
- explore business models and regulatory innovations to improve feasibility implementation.
Our new paper in Nature Energy asks fundamental questions of what values and biases algorithms are encoding into our digital energy system.
The digital energy era presents at least three systemic concerns to the design and operation of algorithms: bias of considerations towards the easily quantifiable; inhibition of explainability; and undermining of trust and inclusion, as well as energy users’ autonomy and control. Here we examine these tensions through an interdisciplinary study that reveals the diversity of possible algorithms and their accompanying material effects, focused on neighbourhood-scale batteries (NSBs) in Australia. We conducted qualitative research with energy sector professionals and citizens to understand the range of perceived benefits and risks of NSBs and the algorithms that drive their behaviour. Issues raised by stakeholders were integrated into NSB optimization algorithms whose effects on NSB owners and customers were quantified through techno-economic modelling. Our results show the allocation of benefits and risks vary considerably between different algorithm designs. This indicates a need to improve energy algorithm governance, enabling accountability and responsiveness across the design and use of algorithms so that the digitization of energy technology does not lead to adverse public outcomes.
Full text available here https://rdcu.be/cpu0G
“The electric vehicle transition is about more than just doing away with vehicles powered by fossil fuels. We must also ensure quality technology and infrastructure, anticipate the future and avoid unwanted outcomes, such as entrenching disadvantage.
Australia’s world-leading rollout of rooftop solar power systems offers a guide to help navigate the transition. We’ve identified three key lessons on what’s gone well, and in hindsight, what could have been done differently.”
Full piece in The Conversation https://theconversation.com/check-your-mirrors-3-things-rooftop-solar-can-teach-us-about-australias-electric-car-rollout-162085