Ergon Energy partners to deploy IoT demand management solution


Actility, provider of low power wide area networking technology, and the National Narrowband Network Co (NNNCo), Australia’s LoRaWAN network operator will deploy NNNCo’s group multicast technology coupled with Actility’s ThingPark IoT platform to control hot water usage at a fine granular level. [Engerati’s round-up: Australian Telco seizes opportunities in the energy market]

Following a successful proof of concept, the trial solution is being tested in Townsville, Queensland.

Ergon Energy’s Sanjeewa Athuraliya, telecommunications architect and winner of the company’s 2015 Innovation Challenge, said:  “Historically when faced with network constraints energy utilities upgraded their networks. However that increases infrastructure costs and places upward pressure on electricity prices. Our approach is to think outside the square.

“With the trial of this IoT solution,” he adds, “the company gets the capability to control the load using accurate and timely information at a granular level. For example, it may change the time that a household’s hot water is heated up so that it occurs when network load is low. This could allow Ergon Energy to run its network more effectively, increase the longevity of the network, and save customers money over the long-term.”

According to a release the solution brings demand management on street, neighbourhood or district level scalable to energy utility spanning 1.7m km.

Scalable solution

The electricity distributor has one of the lowest customer densities of any utility company, resulting in very long distribution lines, making load variation and management a key issue for the company. The trial solution, developed with NNNCo and Actility, will enable it to connect beyond substations to individual household power consumers such as hot water. The release adds that the LPWA IoT solution will give Ergon Energy granular control to switch individual loads on and off so that they can be reduced where needed and in times of peak power demand without impacting customers. [IoT alliance Hypercat launches in Australia]

NNNCo founder and CEO, Rob Zagarella, said:  “This opens up additional use cases that require non real-time monitoring and control capability such as public lighting, agricultural irrigation, water, Infrastructure and building automation. Demonstrating this capability in one of the most challenging environments puts us in pole position for growth across these segments both in Australia and globally via partnerships with the other LoRa Alliance member operators around the world.”