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Wattwatchers watches volts as well as watts, which helps to understand solar challenges for grids

by Wattwatchers Team
posted on Saturday, July 13th, 2019


‘Teething issues’ from Australia’s rooftop PV revolution are manifesting primarily as local voltage fluctuations and present the first major limitation on solar deployment and production, according to Solar Analytics’ Dr Jonathon Dore.

.At Wattwatchers we love it when our devices and data streams are being used to improve the electricity system and accelerate progress towards a smarter, cleaner, lower-cost energy future. It reinforces our belief in the power of real-time data from behind the consumer’s utility meter to help transform electricity grids, and especially the still poorly understood low-voltage networks where millions of everyday consumers get their power supply.

EcoGeneration has published a substantial guest piece from Dr Jonathon Dore, the Head of Data Analytics at Sydney-based Solar Analytics, which captures early research take-outs from a Collaborative Research Centre Project (CRC-P) – that his company is leading, in partnership with Wattwatchers, distribution network businesses Energy Queensland and South Australian Power Networks (SAPN), and also the University of New South Wales (UNSW) – aimed at tackling demand response from a consumer perspective.


Dr Jonathon Dore is head of data analytics and research at Solar Analytics. As a solar specialist for nearly 20 years, Jonathon has previously worked in R&D and manufacturing in Australia and Germany and has undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in photovoltaic engineering from UNSW.

Dore’s article is further shaped by another project being led by Solar Analytics, in partnership with the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) and Wattwatchers, with funding support from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) through its Distributed Energy Resources (DER) competitive round. This project has a core focus on capturing more granular, sub-second voltage data from Wattwatchers devices to help the electricity grid.

Titled ‘What voltage tells us about the solar revolution’, Dore’s article adds hard data to the emerging awareness that largely uncontrolled voltage fluctuations are a product quality problem for electricity consumers, as well as being a management challenge for network operators, even if the vast majority of customers on the low-voltage networks of Australia are unaware of the issue.

Point source data for the voltage study summarised in the EcoGeneration article was captured by thousands of the Solar Smart Monitors deployed by Solar Analytics, which are Wattwatchers-made devices own-branded by Solar Analytics for use with its world-leading solar PV performance monitoring dashboard and cloud analytics.

‘Thankfully, voltage is measured as part of the solar monitoring and energy management system that Solar Analytics is providing to a growing number of customers around the country. The system typically uses energy monitors made by Wattwatchers, which measures voltage, current, frequency, real and reactive power and energy from each phase over periods down to five seconds and sends the data to Solar Analytics cloud servers.’ – Jonathon Dore

Wattwatchers CEO Gavin Dietz has been quoted in Dore’s article, foreseeing a future for consumer-side-of-the-meter energy technologies where household and business data (from Wattwatchers devices, and many other technologies as well) will regularly be shared with the industry – electricity networks, retailers, aggregators and other service providers – on commercial terms as part of normal operations.

‘Within a decade there’ll be dramatically more energy data available through the cloud, and the utility billing data that dominates today will only be a fraction of the total,’ according to Dietz. ‘The bulk of it will come from consumer-owned assets, including inverters, EV chargers and smart devices … The flow of this data via APIs will be critical to the trade in electrons in increasingly distributed electricity grids.’

Much like Wattwatchers, Dore and Solar Analytics see a vital role for data in the ongoing energy transition, and also highlight the critical influence that consumers will have in a demand-driven energy future. Dore concludes his article by saying:

‘So the future will see many solutions to the emerging constraints of the clean energy transition but also many new challenges which keep shifting the goalposts for everyone involved. What is clear is that high-quality, high-volume data, connectivity and coordination will play an increasingly important role and that at the centre of all this is a person who just wants to be comfortable and connected at a reasonable price.’