Neighbourhood batteries in Australia: Anticipating questions of value conflict and (in)justice

We have a new paper published today in Energy Research & Social Science.

Highlights

  • 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

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Examining the vehicle-to-grid niche in Australia through the lens of a trial project

We have a new paper in the journal Environmental Innovation and Societal Transitions.

Highlights

  • Vehicle-to-grid is viewed as a sub-niche of electric vehicles and distributed energy.
  • Vehicle-to-grid is in an embryonic stage of development in Australia.
  • Proponents hold strong long-term visions, but are unsure how to get there.
  • Learning has focused on problem solving; other types of learning are lacking.
  • More experimentation, involvement of new actors and embedding are required.
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PhD opening – Clean energy solutions on the Great Barrier Reef

We are looking for a PhD scholar to work as part of a multi-party project on cooling – and thereby saving – the Great Barrier Reef.

The PhD project will contribute to the development of clean energy systems that power the equipment that increases the thickness of marine clouds above the reef. These systems may feature solar photovoltaics, wind power, bio fuels, wave power, batteries and other technologies. The project will assess the technical, economic, and social feasibility of these technologies and design systems to meet the needs of the reef cooling applications.

The student will work closely with the Battery Storage and Grid Integration Program at ANU (www.bsgip.com), as well as researchers at Southern Cross University and the broader Reef Restoration and Adaptation Program (see https://gbrrestoration.org/program/cooling-and-shading/).

Full application details are here: https://cecs.anu.edu.au/research/student-research-projects/clean-energy-solutions-great-barrier-reef-phd-project-0

New project: Policies for solar for rentals

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.

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Applying responsible algorithm design to neighbourhood-scale batteries in Australia

Our new paper in Nature Energy asks fundamental questions of what values and biases algorithms are encoding into our digital energy system.

Abstract below:
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