Smart energy trial to slash household running costs

The Albanese Government is backing a smart energy platform that could save households hundreds of dollars a year and make more efficient use of grid infrastructure by flexibly operating hot water systems, solar PV, pool pumps and EV chargers.

With $9.75 million through the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), utility services provider Intellihub will integrate virtual power plants run by energy retailers to operate household energy devices when solar generation is abundant and wholesale prices are cheaper.  

Energy retailers will voluntarily enrol over 140,000 home hot water units, rooftop solar and batteries, EV chargers and pool pumps in the ‘demand flexibility’ platform over the next two years. Intellihub estimates that participating households could reduce household energy costs by over a hundred dollars per year for each device.

The $22 million project will take advantage of Australia’s world-leading household solar installations and could free up to 500 megawatts of grid capacity, just a small fraction of the flexible capacity that could come from 10 million home devices by 2030.

Studies have shown that Australia could save between $8 billion and $18 billion through demand flexibility out to 2040.

Assistant Minister for Climate Change and Energy Jenny McAllister said the demand flexibility platform had huge potential.

“Volunteered devices can be turned on remotely to take advantage of abundant daytime solar energy, or programmed to reduce demand during peak periods, lowering household energy costs,” Senator McAllister said.

“This is another example of the Albanese Government investing in Australian innovation in the energy sector and that could help put downward pressure on energy prices.

“Better management of these volunteered household energy devices and appliances can help balance supply and demand, while delivering real impacts on energy prices and provide wider grid stability.”