Data services are the third pillar of the Wattwatchers product suite, alongside hardware and software. There’s long been a major gap in the data available for researchers, innovators and commercial developers who want to know more about electricity customers. How, for example, are they using power in their homes and enterprises, and across communities, down to the level of individual circuits, solar and major appliances? Cue MyEnergy Marketplace, a key output from the Wattwatchers-led, ARENA grant-funded My Energy Marketplace (MEM) initiative (2019-2023).
SOLUTION PROFILE: MyEnergy Marketplace
Wattwatchers has created MyEnergy Marketplace, a unique ‘living’ resource with real-time and historical/trend data from over 5,000 sites across Australia.
This new ‘e-infrastructure’ for electrification and the clean energy transition in Australia is built on highly-granular, continuously updating, near real-time data from household, strata property, small business, community facility and school electricity customers.
In 2019, at the project’s commencement, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) summarised it thus: Wattwatchers aims to build, operate and deploy the ‘My Energy Marketplace’ or ‘MEM’, a consumer-facing energy data platform, designed to securely collect, process and productise vast amounts of energy data.
Four years on, this is now a business reality for Wattwatchers, one that continues beyond the ARENA grant phase as a cutting edge one-stop shop for customer energy datasets.
MyEnergy Marketplace aligns with the MyEnergy home energy management app, now with new insights-driven ‘Flow’ features, and the MyEnergy Plus tool for sustainability performance and compliance in the commercial and industrial building space.
The graphic above shows the breakdown of MEM household and small business installations on a state/territory basis.
The graphic above shows a summary of load types currently in the MyEnergy Marketplace datasets. Additional sites will be added progressively, including commercial and industrial buildings.
The graphic above shows grid connection types – single and multi-phase – for the MyEnergy Marketplace fleet.
Secure and ethical
MyEnergy Marketplace leverages Wattwatchers’ cloud architecture, known as ‘Mercury’, which handles billions of data points daily (up to 100,000-plus data points per device per day).
It’s hosted in Australia by Amazon Web Services. Local hosting has proven to be vital for Australian utilities, in particular, in the context of strict and strengthening cybersecurity requirements (especially the evolving Security of Critical Infrastructure Act, or SOCI, which includes electricity as an ‘essential service’).
Consumer data rights have been a core MEM theme from the outset, balancing the privacy imperative with enabling legitimate access to energy data for multiple use cases, while keeping pace with escalating security and cybersecurity priorities.
Major national privacy breaches for telecommunications, financial and healthcare providers over the past 12-18 months have validated this approach, as does the increasing focus on cybersecurity engendered by SOCI and related initiatives, for consumer energy resources (CER) fleet monitoring and aggregation.
Why is this unique?
MyEnergy Marketplace is unique because of a combination of characteristics.
The few comparable initiatives typically rely on data from utility-style smart meters, which only ‘see’ grid connections for electricity imports and any exports (where sites have rooftop solar); and measurements have typically been in 15-minute or 30-minute blocks of time.
By comparison, Wattwatchers devices measure grid connections for import or export, solar generation where present, thus allowing calculation of solar self-consumption and carbon footprint).
They also monitor significant individual circuit-based loads behind the utility meter, such as electric hot water, heat pumps, air conditioners, pool pumps and heaters, EV chargers and more.
Wattwatchers’ devices provide access to 5-30 second circuit-level measurements in near real time, including power quality data such as voltage and frequency, and 5-minute time-and-date stamped measurements that provide more robust long term history data.
Using the Wattwatchers API, the data is available immediately to both MEM participants and MyEnergy Marketplace customers. With 12 months or more of historical 5-minute data already available, this allows projects to dramatically shorten the time and cost to produce valuable insights and outcomes.
Furthermore, MyEnergy Marketplace is a ‘living’ resource, constantly growing and evolving, rather than being ‘locked’ at the end of a project and then eroding and becoming outdated over time.
Another key factor is that the MEM is designed for customer protection and rights, and was guided throughout its creation by external experts from academia, the energy sector, consumer advocacy and sustainability, who voluntarily participated in the MEM’s Data Advisory Panel (DAP).
Plain-English, user-friendly customer terms and conditions (T&Cs) for the MEM were developed with the DAP’s guidance, and have been embedded in the Wattwatchers MyEnergy mobile app (now with the ‘Flow’ features).
MyEnergy Marketplace already has customers, including major research institutions including the CSIRO, the University of NSW (UNSW) and the Australian National University (ANU).
One of these early customers for the MyEnergy Marketplace perfectly sums up the case for ‘why we need this’, saying:
High quality residential energy data is extremely rare and valuable, leading to challenges in research data analysis.
Former CSIRO energy researcher Tim Moore, now with the ANU and its prestigious Battery Storage and Grid Integration Program (BSGIP), continues on to say:
The Wattwatchers MyEnergy Marketplace dataset gave us quick access to dozens of end-points monitoring hundreds of individual devices, allowing us to perform a far deeper analysis than we expected would be possible – greatly improving our research outcomes and the impact we were able to create. The data was easy to access and required very little pre-processing, saving time and allowing us to get straight into the research with almost no overhead. We’re already planning our next data project using this great resource!
Wattwatchers is also a ‘customer’ for MyEnergy Marketplace itself, using the MEM datasets as a resource for our own solution development and related data science projects, such as the recent ‘high resolution carbon accounting’ series (with implementation in the MyEnergy app ‘Flow’ features to follow early in 2024).
The MyEnergy Marketplace origin story
The MEM concept began its life in 2017 under the working title of ‘the people’s energy data bank’.
This concept envisaged creating a major new research, development and commercialisation resource for the clean energy transition based on customers’ data collected via Wattwatchers devices.
This morphed into a $2.7M grant funding request for what became a $9M-plus project, a commercial-scale pilot to harness data from over 5000 Wattwatchers smart energy devices in homes, small businesses, community facilities and schools.
The core aim was a secure, ethically-sourced consumer energy database to fill a major gap for researchers and innovators working on consumer-side energy solutions (see a high-level summary of MEM project outcomes below).
How we’ve innovated with energy data
The key innovation is ‘soft infrastructure’ for collecting, hosting and productising customer energy data to make it useful and shareable—securely and ethically.
This includes innovation with the T&Cs, as described above, and the software ‘tools’ for customers to allow/authorise data sharing, and also to easily revoke or amend any such ‘permissioning’.
The MEM design clearly differentiates levels of data sharing, with participants pre-approving sharing of their anonymized datasets for three years and they have to provide further explicit approval for any changes.
Participants pre-agree to receive ‘offers’ through the MEM, but are not obligated to accept. A key principle is that customers should be able to benefit, financially or otherwise, from additional value that is created using their data.
The My Energy Marketplace project received funding from ARENA as part of ARENA’s Advancing Renewables Program. The views expressed herein are not necessarily the views of the Australian Government, and the Australian Government does not accept responsibility for any information or advice contained herein.