New collaborative project to enhance application of Australia’s energy data

Dr Nariman Mahdavi Mazdeh is part of the team centralising Australia's energy data into the NEAR Program. Image credit: CSIRO.

A new research program from the national science agency CSIRO, the federal government and the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) will pursue the development of data-driven solutions for Australia’s sustainable energy future.

The National Energy Analytics and Research (NEAR) Program will provide information to underpin decision making, and aims deliver a secure, affordable and sustainable energy strategy.

Funded by the Australian government, and delivered by CSIRO in close collaboration with AEMO, the NEAR Program collects, integrates and enhances information about Australia’s energy use, which is then delivered to decision makers and the public through a tailored web platform.

Data includes energy consumption patterns, demographics, building characteristics, appliance uptake, weather statistics, and more. Currently, this type of data is held by numerous parties, formatted to different standards and access is often restricted.

CSIRO project leader Dr Adam Berry said the NEAR Program is first-of-its-kind, bringing together data not previously available and publishing its own new datasets.

“In times of rapid change in the energy sector, we need rich data to plan for the energy system of tomorrow,” Berry said.

“This is particularly true in summer when the Australian energy system is most under strain due to high consumer demand and the increased likelihood of extreme weather events.

“Major investments in our energy system depend on accurate, long-term forecasting, and NEAR Program data and research can support dramatic improvements in the way we do this”.

Over periods of extreme heat or system stress, outputs from the NEAR Program will help identify areas of risk and provide evidence to support appropriate demand-response options.

The NEAR Program will also address increasing energy costs, linking consumer patterns with energy sector data to build a fuller picture of the modern Australian energy user. This will support research focused on simultaneously increasing comfort and lowering costs for Australian homes.

NEAR Program research has already contributed important data to the ACCC’s Retail Electricity Prices Inquiry, quantifying the impact of tariff structures on electricity costs for Australian households.

CSIRO and partners will work with government, regulators, operators and distributors to drive data innovation needed by industry, researchers and policy makers to secure the best energy future possible for Australia.