Monday, February 27, 2017

Research Projects

Project 1:  The Role of Energy Efficiency and Demand Management in Network Planning

Theme: Our Energy Networks

This study is to consider the network investment currently being planned by the energy industry, the planned national trajectory for reducing emissions, and the opportunity to both reduce the required investment and reduce emissions through energy efficiency improvements, load shifting and distributed generation.

The study will look at best practices for demand management globally and the rationale for making demand management the preferred investment option for the energy supply industry, including examination of the risks of investing in stranded assets and the cost/benefits of demand management compared to current supply investments.  The conclusion would set out any recommended changes to the regulation of the Australian electricity supply industry.

Project 2:  A benchmarking study of current sectoral energy performance

Theme: Our Energy Use

This study will build on partial and/or ageing studies previously undertaken for particular sectors, and examine the relative energy efficiency of each of our industries compared to other developed countries.  In doing this, it would analyse the scale of the opportunity to save energy by moving to global best practice energy efficiency in each sector. This will lead to recommendations on how to make this transition within the next 5-10 years, and the adequacy of current data and information.

This study will also act as a benchmark that can be updated and reported upon over time, and against which future comparisons can be made and improvements can be assessed.

Project 3: Smart grid technologies

Theme: Our Energy Networks

This study will consider the costs and opportunities presented by a rapid transition to an intelligent grid, which has the ability to optimise energy use geographically and temporally according to network constraints.  It would consider the current compatibility of the Australian grid with smart grid technology, and recommend the means by which take-up of smarter grid technologies can be accelerated, with reference to:

  • regulatory changes and grid features required to support increased consumer interaction and smart appliances
  • how best to structure tariffs to promote energy efficiency and encourage consumers to modify usage patterns
  • cost/benefit analysis of a national smart grid taking into consideration the saving from reduced downtime of the grid, automated fault analysis and self-healing, and improved power quality
  • cost/benefit analysis of the advantages of a smart grid when facilitating the connection of renewable and decentralised energy sources.

Project 4: The framing of energy use choices

Theme: Our Energy Culture

Rapid uptake of energy efficiency will require policies that understand the market barriers and non-market or behavioural barriers that are faced. Typically the focus of energy efficiency policy has been in overcoming market failures, though it is well understood that non price barriers and behavioural aspects are strong determinants of energy choices. For example, social norms, habits, morality, formal and informal authority, non-monetary incentives, community expectations, and the context in which choices are presented, all shape choices and social behaviour in various ways. They are also highly influential in determining outcomes.

Energy efficiency actions informed by a stronger understanding of realistic human behaviours and decision-making will potentially lead to new approaches that are more successful at supporting transformational changes in energy efficiency uptake.

This piece of work will focus on how our cultural and social environments shape patterns of behaviour related to energy use, and how major energy efficiency choices are framed to end users, by considering the tools of ‘choice architecture’ as they relate to energy. Choice architecture focuses on designing the context in which people make decisions, to mitigate irrational decision making and improve social and economic outcomes. Relevance of the tools of choice architecture will be examined for their role in developing a culture of good choice around energy use and efficiency.