• Mirka Karra

The importance of solar production monitoring in Australia

Australia is one of the leaders in residential solar production worldwide, with more than 30% of households having rooftop solar photovoltaics (PV) with a combined capacity exceeding 11 GW. According to the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, solar PV generated approximately 10% of the country’s electricity in 2020-21, making it the fastest-growing generation type in Australia.

Solar energy production monitoring based merely on smart meter data

Solar energy production monitoring is being done by reading the corresponding PV inverter data with a separate app from the inverter supplier. Nevertheless, thanks to a recent technological breakthrough, the NET2GRID team made solar energy production monitoring possible based only on smart meter data. This means that energy retailers can make this feature available based only on the smart meter data they already possess, without any additional investments in hardware. This allows them to offer their customers a complete home energy overview, with energy production, consumption, and grid injection, delivered through a single end-user experience like an app, and, at the same time, offer a monitoring service to check the performance and potential degradation of the solar installation by comparing it with other installations and weather data, as reference points.

Figure 1: NET2GRID’s solar production estimation example, using 30-minute smart meter interval data in the Australian market.

The good news is that even though smart meter deployment in Australia varies from state to state, all PV owners typically have smart meters installed, even if they are based in a state where the average smart meter penetration is low.

What’s in it for consumers

Solar energy production monitoring based on smart meter data means that custom-made niche algorithms process the historical meter readings and make the user aware of how much solar energy they produce. But why is it interesting?

Solar self-consumption

Firstly, PV owners can see how much of the solar energy they produced and self-consumed, thus, how much money they saved by not buying electricity from the grid to cover their needs. One of the big arguments, after all, for someone to install solar panels at home is to become energy self-sufficient by producing and consuming one’s energy.

Photovoltaic's performance

Secondly, PV owners can receive personalized notifications about the optimal time to consume energy during the day, making the most of their solar energy production.

Thirdly, they can check their PV’s performance; owners can be alerted about the need for solar panel maintenance through the same ‘Μy utility’ app to see their solar energy production and consumption.

What’s in it for energy retailers?

At the same time, there are big benefits for energy retailers from a solar production monitoring service based on smart meter data. They can build new services for better customer engagement and education while improving their internal intelligence for data-driven marketing and energy supply.

For example, they can offer additional solar panel preventive maintenance or performance guarantee services either by themselves or by partnering up with a solar company to their customer segments who need it.

Additionally, energy retailers possessing information on how much energy PV owners feed into the grid can better forecast next-day consumption and production. Thus, they can be more accurate in both their next-day and long-term demand forecasting. The same smart meter data can be used to analyze the growth trends of solar to use these in grid planning.

For all the above reasons, solar energy production monitoring based on smart meter data is a unique proposition Australian energy retailers can offer to their customers to differentiate themselves from the competition.