Building industry capacity and develop skills for service providers, customers and suppliers to better address rapid change
This Theme will involve rigorous, reflective and iterative processes of engagement with customers and other energy sector stakeholders to shed light on customer expectations, preferences, goals and interests.
Building on existing work, such as the ECA Consumer Sentiment Survey, the Energy Charter and ISF NEM Report Card, this Theme will explore customer priorities, perceived performance (qualitative and quantitative) relative to these priorities and options for better aligning industry performance to priorities and building trust between stakeholders.
A customer-centered energy sector must focus on serving customer interests and customer goals.
These interests and goals can only be clearly discerned by effectively and openly engaging with customers themselves.
In recent decades, policy makers and businesses have not always succeeded in achieving this.
Moreover, the unprecedented pace of change in the energy sector is placing pressure on all stakeholders and relationships. Delivering positive outcomes for customers will depend on effective and efficient collaboration and high levels of trust between diverse stakeholders.
By illuminating customer priorities, this Theme will be crucial in guiding the energy industry towards a lower cost, more customer-centered energy transition.
As there has been limited study of this subject, it is difficult to forecast accurately what the likely benefits and impact of this research will be.
However, it is clear that the a lack of trust and understanding between customers, policy makers and industry stakeholders has contributed to at least hundreds of millions of dollars in costs in avoidable expenditure, delays in investment and higher prices.
This Theme will seek to blend traditional forecasting, with more innovative fore-sighting and comprehensive DER potential assessment to consider not just what trend trends suggest, but also what is possible and desirable.
This will also include: market resource assessment: identifying, quantifying and mapping energy productivity, demand management and DER opportunities (e.g. real-time data on peak demand drivers) and mapping forecast reliability levels and expected unserved energy.
Much of the forecasting and planning in the energy sector has been based on increasingly outdated supply-side dominated traditions and has often neglected energy productivity, DER and demand-side opportunities and trends.
This has contributed to some expensive forecasting errors and investment decisions costing consumers billions of dollars. Disruptive processes associated with the rise of DER, including solar PV, EVs, and smart energy management, require a new planning approach.
More accurate, flexible and relevant electricity sector fore-sighting and planning processes can improve future investment decisions, allow better market operation, decrease costs and increase reliability
This is particularly relevant to allow rigorous comparisons to optimise between DER and large-scale supply infrastructure investment by utilities and governments around, for example, gas peaking generators, large-scale batteries, pumped hydro storage and interstate transmission.
As for trust building (Theme E1), the benefits of improved fore-sighting and planning processes are difficult to anticipate but could plausibly be worth hundreds of millions of dollars in energy customers savings.
Collaborate with industry and training bodies (e.g. Australian Power Institute and vocational education providers) to provide professional development and training.
Capacity building with a variety of delivery models (2-day master-class, half-day training) tailored to industry needs, integrated with project assessment and implementation to enhance learning outcomes through action research.
Collaborate with universities to integrate training within electrical engineering and post-secondary courses. Deliver a large program of industry focused, collaborative research PhDs.
There is a critical need to build industry capacity and develop skills for service and technology providers, customers and utilities for the rapidly changing energy sector.
There is also a need to strengthen interaction and communication between the established energy sector and the start-up community. The energy sector is changing quickly which is creating new business opportunities for start-ups, but the speed of uptake often depends on how quickly established energy businesses adopt and adapt to these new opportunities.
Impacts of this Theme will be broadly felt across the energy sector:
There will be improved knowledge and skills in the industry to undertake demand management Themes at lower cost. Template development: procurement, reporting, monitoring and verification.
There will be faster and more successful development of start-ups in Australia; accelerating new jobs, enterprises and export potential.
A wide cohort of PhD researchers will deliver industry relevant research in support of CRC objectives.