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Origin uses AI in demand-management trials

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Origin Energy is using artificial intelligence (AI) to help control customer energy usage in new demand-management trials.

It comes as the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) and the Australian Energy Market Operator this week started a $35.7 million trial in Victoria, NSW and South Australia that will reward households with “free” billing days, cash refunds or even movie vouchers for cutting their power usage on hot summer days.

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State and federal governments fund a scheme to pay people to use less electricity on hot days to save critical power.

“These projects are an important part of how we’re going to manage the grid,” AEMO chief executive Audrey Zibelman said at its launch.

Now Origin is implementing its own independent demand-management trials with commercial and industrial customers in South Australia, partnering with energy start-up Tempus Energy.

Tempus Energy uses a software platform that connects a customer’s flexible assets like battery storage and solar panels to Origin’s energy trading team.

It can potentially remotely raise air-conditioner temperatures or turn off smart lights in peak periods, or shift non-time-critical energy use into periods that are cheaper or when renewables are plentiful, freeing power to be pushed back into the grid.  

“The technology uses AI and smart algorithms to control and optimise when these flexible assets use energy, reducing costs, aligning with abundant renewables and increasing grid stability,” Tempus Energy founder Sara Bell said.

She said flexible technology helped users take advantage of market volatility, as it brought together energy market forecasts and customer consumption predictions to ensure the correct asset such as batteries and solar panels were performing at the right time.

The system uses AI to control customers energy assets to either turn off, or push power back into the grid. The system uses AI to control customers energy assets to either turn off, or push power back into the grid. Photo: Supplied

“The growth of zero marginal cost renewable generation has created conditions of oversupply and will eventually create undersupply when enough loss-making fossil-fuel generation is retired,” Ms Bell said.

“This over- and undersupply creates the pricing dynamic that enables innovation to flourish. Price risk during high demand/low supply events is mitigated by making the electrons in fast response gas-fired generation. The same market conditions will create the investment case for a flexible demand-side and battery storage.”

This is the latest partnership between Origin and an energy start-up.

“There are a number of technologies we’re trialling at the moment that we believe could be part of the future energy mix that helps to maintain affordability and security of energy for our customers,” Origin executive general manager of future energy, Tony Lucas, said

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