Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Australia and China researchers join forces to balance energy demand

Steve Rogerson
July 9, 2019
Universities in Australia and China are working on technology to even out demand for electricity at a new research centre, the Australia-China Joint Research Centre for Energy Informatics & Demand Response Technologies.
The centre was recently granted $900,000 from the Australian government as part of the Australia-China Science & Research Fund Joint Research Centres to fund research into making energy supply more efficient and reliable.
Led by Albert Zomaya, Jin Ma and Wei Li from the University of Sydney in Australia and Chengshan Wang and Ting Yang from Tianjin University in China, the centre follows on from almost a decade of research collaboration between the two universities on energy technology.
“Currently, the energy systems in Australia and China suffer during periods of peak demand,” said Zomaya, lead researcher from the University of Sydney. “We need to even out the demand for energy, so we don't see the big peak demands on the system.”
Focusing on interdisciplinary research in computer science and engineering, the centre will make full use of the latest computer science techniques to manage energy usage in households. The integrated system will be able to account for peak energy demand times and adjust the household's electrical use accordingly.
China is the world's largest energy consumer and without further action on energy efficiency the country will account for nearly 22 per cent of the primary energy demand in 2040, according to the World Energy Outlook.
"Currently, the energy systems in Australia and China suffer during periods of peak demand,” said Zomaya. “We need to even out the demand for energy, so we don't see the big peak demands on the system. This will mean our energy providers can improve the flexibility and reliability of the energy system as a whole. The centre will provide a good platform for carrying out this interdisciplinary research which has the potential to help consumers save energy and lower their energy bills."
The teams are working with State Grid Corporation of China and Energy Australia to run a pilot programme using the smart meters they have developed. The meters draw on information about energy consumption and combine it with IoT technology to adjust household energy usage, making it more efficient and cost-effective. The smart meters can detect when electricity demand is at its peak and most expensive and adjust household electrical devices.
“The joint centre with the University of Sydney has significant scientific value that we believe will produce innovative results in the energy field,” said Wang, head of the School of Electrical & Information Engineering at Tianjin University. “The work conducted by the researchers from both sides is highly complementary.”
The partnership between the University of Sydney and Tianjin University has already yielded an international patent proposing a computational method for using IoT devices with an enhanced data processing technique to collect data efficiently from distributed grid systems.
“We hope the centre will act as a vital link to our researchers and the public and make important contributions to the development of new energy technologies in both countries,” said Yang.
The other partners in the research centre are RMIT University and Energy Australia from Australia, and Tianjin University, Tsinghua University and State Grid from China.