About 5,000 Australian households and business and 250 schools will be invited to take part in a three-year trial of smart energy monitoring devices.

The Federal Government is providing $2.7 million via the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) for the $8 million My Energy Marketplace trial. Sydney company Wattwatchers will lead the trial.

Participants will be offered discounts on Wattwatchers behind-the-meter devices that enable monitoring of electricity usage in near real-time via an app. 

The app will also allow users to take part in demand response programs that the government claims will lower energy costs and “support the gird” by reducing energy consumption during peak demand periods.

Testing interest in energy data

The aim of the project is to provide "sufficient scale to test business interest in customer electricity data", according to ARENA. Participants will be able to share data about their energy usage with the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) and distribution networks, whch will pay to access the data. This will improve visibility of rooftop solar panels and batteries growth.

“Whether it’s rooftop solar, battery storage, energy efficiency, controlling electricity loads and appliances remotely, or the uptake of electric vehicles, we need better data to effectively run the future grid consisting of more and more decentralised consumer energy assets,” stated ARENA CEO Darren Miller.

“The Wattwatchers project is designed to provide both the data and consumer participation needed to manage an increasingly decentralised electricity system. This also aligns strongly with other ARENA-funded initiatives for DER, demand response and new marketplaces," Miller added.

Network businesses and market operators currently have poor visibility of the low-voltage grid, said Wattwatchers CEO Gavin Dietz. He said those organisations' challenge will be to see and control Distributed Energy Resources as use of renewable energy sources increases.

Technology partners

Wattwatchers is working with technology partners to offer a choice of apps and services. The company’s cloud platform has an API to enable integration with Software-as-a-Service applications.

It is touting its willingness to partner, pointing to My Energy Marketplace partners data company Accurassi, app company Cogniss and education company Solar Schools. Wattwatchers is also a research partner of the Australian National University’s Battery Storage and Grid Integration Program.

Wattwatchers’ products include monitoring devices and switching and control units. Its hardware has cellular or Wi-Fi connectivity to connect to Wattwatchers’ cloud platform.

The company has a business-to-business model and lists energy retailers and network businesses, solar and distributed energy companies, and energy services and facility managers as customers. Its products are used in Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and South East Asia.