Luceo Energy says its eponymously software platform gives network operators access to real-time data and analytics, allowing them to better manage their low-voltage networks and proactively control distributed loads and manage fleets of distributed renewable resources (DER), including rooftop solar.
As the transition to renewable energy continues, network operators are being required to find new ways to maintain the stability of the network and maximise the value of individual consumer-owned assets like rooftop solar and home batteries.
Luceo Energy CEO Patrick Matweew said the move from a centralised, fossil-fuel electricity system to a smart decentralised, renewable energy ecosystem had redefined the role of energy distribution networks.
Matweew however said network operators currently have very little real-time data available in the low-voltage segment of their networks and that visibility is critical to ensure safe and secure operation of distribution networks which are being inundated with very high penetrations of DER.
“The new world of energy networks requires flexibility and more dynamic solutions to manage intermittent sources like renewables,” he said.
“Distributed and diverse renewable energy resources require different network capabilities. Safety and cost-effective management of the consequences of an increasing penetration of rooftop PV systems in Australia is at the forefront of most network executives’ minds.
“These PV systems, as well as other renewable energy sources, are often very variable in their generation and managing that has emerged as one of the key challenges that must be addressed.
“To overcome the variability challenge in a secure, reliable and affordable way, network operators need access to real-time data and advanced analytics to react quickly and effectively.
“To successfully transition to this new dynamic operational model, it requires data from every feeder in the network to enable data driven decision-making to predict and manage changing network conditions.”
Matweew said the cloud-based Luceo Platform gives operators real-time visibility and critical insights from data it collects across the energy network to proactively control distributed loads and manage fleets of distributed renewable resources, such as rooftop solar.
“The platform and the applications that run on the platform have been developed to address one of the largest obstacles in the transition of the energy systems to a decentralised, renewable future – the lack of data and visibility on what is going on in the electricity networks,” he told pv magazine.
“With the Luceo Energy platform, the network operators can now see in real time what is happening within their network. Sounds simple but there are quite a lot of things to be looking into when thinking about the operation of the electricity network.
“The Luceo platform provides solutions for safety, operating parameters as well as important high-level insights.”
The platform’s modular design lets network operators choose the features suitable for their specific situation. This ranges from analytics for network data assets, machine learning to predict future constraints, dynamic control of loads and DER, alerts and notifications, and a customisable dashboard that puts all information and insight into a single place.
“The Luceo Energy data platform is architected and built to manage high volumes of incoming energy data streams and process these data streams to provide the needed visibility to the network operators,” Matweew said.
“The incoming data is analysed and the result of such analysis is then displayed in a specific user interface.
“Once you have this kind of visibility, you can see how your network breathes and act on demand response and dynamic load control, such as giving commands to solar inverters, pool pumps or hot water tanks to turn on or off, to manage distributed loads.”
Luceo Energy, a part of Brisbane-based start-up Redback Technologies, said the network-scale platform is hosted in Microsoft Azure and resides in Australian data centres, addressing data sovereignty requirements for customers.
Government-owned utility Energy Queensland is among those bodies to show an interest in the platform, introducing it to its network as part of a large-scale pilot program.
“We have been working with Energy Queensland very closely since 2018, resulting in the roll out of 20,000 Luceo Energy network devices across the state in combination with the Luceo Energy platform,” Matweew said.
“There are about 2.4 million connection points in Queensland and 20,000 are now equipped with a Luceo Energy network device, reporting data in one-minute intervals.”
Luceo Energy’s software has also attracted the attention of the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) which has provided $2.6 million funding as part of a $5.7 million project which will see the company develop a proof-of-concept platform.
Luceo Energy will integrate data from network infrastructure, smart meters and smart consumer-owned energy assets such as batteries and inverters to help distribution network service providers (DNSPs) overcome challenges associated with managing DER within low-voltage networks.
“The ARENA project utilises the same Luceo Energy platform but provides funding to develop, test and release new functionality for the platform and for integration with third party solutions,” Matweew said.
“This new functionality, that is supported through the ARENA Shield project, is very specifically aimed at DER hosting capacity and the question how networks can allow more DER on their networks without additional investment or risks to the operations.”
In announcing the funding earlier this year, ARENA CEO Darren Miller said there is a growing industry consensus that a lack of reliable, low-voltage network data is limiting DER’s true value for both customers and networks.
“It is incredibly difficult to acquire, sort and integrate multiple data sets into a single source. Tackling this complex and challenging task is what makes Luceo Energy’s project so innovative,” he said.
“The project could increase the value delivered by renewables by determining a sweet spot between investment in data monitoring and visibility of DER to ensure that the right level of investment is applied, ultimately benefiting all key stakeholders from DNSPs, regulators and ultimately the customer.”
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