Rising rates of solar power and battery uptake present an unprecedented opportunity for Australia’s energy consumers. To truly harness the market potential, however, they must leverage technological advances such as better quality, real-time consolidated data.

While data accessibility has improved significantly in the renewables sector in recent years, data usage has remained limited for distributed energy resources. This is expected to change as energy storage becomes cheaper and more accessible for consumers.

In response, the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) recently asked for submissions on the merits of establishing a national Battery Storage Register. We believe that a register is the next logical step in Australia’s battery storage revolution. Our full submission is available online and a brief summary of the benefits and risks are outlined below.

Benefits of a Battery Storage Register

  • Consumer choice and empowerment: Real time energy storage data would facilitate and increase consumer empowerment and consumer choice.
  • Environmental and socio-economic benefits: Battery storage data sharing will encourage and facilitate the take up and integration of new environmentally friendly energy resources.
  • Innovation in the distributed energy space and the provision of alternative services: Real time data will facilitate innovation in materials, technologies and systems integration for energy storage systems. This will not only deliver benefits to Australia’s energy network, consumers and market, but with appropriate policy support will enable Australian business to exploit these technologies nationally and internationally.
  • Network expansion and maintenance: A more efficient and reactive system, built on quality datasets, will reduce the need to procure excess capacity to deal with demand peaks avoiding unnecessary network expansion and minimising the risk of damage and strain on the grid.
  • Network efficiency: At a simple level, knowing the load profiles of generating houses with battery storage is useful as it reduces the need for excess standby generation. The ability to store energy produced when generation exceeds demand increases system efficiency and smooths demand peaks.
  • Future proofing the grid: In conjunction with appropriate control systems, large scale battery storage, as well as distributed storage generation, has the potential to provide grid operators with a resource to manage their grid infrastructures on a second-by-second basis.
  • Decarbonisation: Better data will allow for better modelling of grid fluctuations which will inform decarbonisation policy and enable greater renewable integration with the grid.

Risks to be addressed in relation to a Battery Storage Register

  • Privacy: Sharing data at a household level carries with it the risks of infringing privacy of individuals. In particular, distributed energy exacerbates these concerns as data can potentially reflect personally identifiable information such as metering locations household consumption patterns and customer billing information.
  • Liability: The risk of disclosing and sharing data can be significant for organisationswho collect data and transfer it to third parties. Such as the requirement to ensure up-to-date and reliable data. This liability can bemanaged, but there must still be ongoing obligations as to quality andaccuracy.
  • Data protection: The collection of valuable new data will inevitably raise data protection concerns, as it can be used for foul as well as fair means. For example, would-be burglars who hack into this data could use it todetermine when property owners are not home based on real-time, on-sitevariation in energy consumption. Protecting this data is of utmostimportance.
  • Cyber security: With an increasingly networked grid, utilities, regulators and nationalsecurity agencies fear the network is at increased risk to hacking andunlawful disruption. These are legitimate concerns.
  • Secured testing: Other jurisdictions (such as the EU and US) have looked at using a ‘sandbox’ approach for secure testing of personal information in open datainitiatives. This would allow the platform to incrementally increase access,while simultaneously ensuring security.

The existing national and jurisdictional regulatory framework

As COAG states, there is currently no sufficient mechanism to register energy storage devices with relevant authorities. While the AEMO is required to create, maintain and administer a metering database, it does not explicitly include real time data in relation to battery storage - though it could reasonably be expanded to do so. Any future register would need to strike a balance between facilitating Australia’s battery storage transformation and imposing increasing regulatory cost burdens on the industry and (directly and indirectly) consumers.