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Interview: Luke Osborne, Reposit Power

Posted on May 2nd, 2017 in News

Empowered energy customers support the grid 

Technological development and changes to energy markets have empowered homeowners and other electricity users with unprecedented opportunities to take control over their energy supply and participate actively in the grid.

In the lead-up to his presentation at the 2017 Australian Energy Storage Conference, we caught up with Luke Osborne, Chief Operations Officer for Reposit Power, to discuss customer participation in electricity markets, how energy storage customers can support the grid, and what modern consumers really want from their energy supply.

Luke Osborne has worked as an executive in the renewable energy industry for over a decade. He started off in wind energy projects, before developing a particular interest in storage as a way to “fill the gaps” in renewable generation, which he describes as “very important if we’re seeking to achieve a grid that’s dominated by renewables, and therefore has low emissions”.

“A few years ago saw that while wind energy is a good, effective form of providing lots of energy to the Australian system, it wasn’t going to be enough without some ability to balance it off,” he says.

By integrating innovative software with solar battery systems, Reposit Power helps homeowners and business owners who invest in energy systems to maximise system performance and minimise power bills.

“One of the ways we can do that is by helping them to participate in wholesale markets,” says Mr Osborne.

Sustainability through customer empowerment

Mr Osborne believes that incentivising homeowners and businesses to take up solar and storage systems has the potential to play a vital role in supporting and stabilising an electricity grid with a high level of renewable generation.

“Solar and storage tends to be a great technology to put on the demand side because we have roof space, and we have storage systems that are suitable for going into homes and businesses,” says Mr Osborne.

“The combination of solar and storage at the end of the grid, in a decentralised way, is going to be a very important complementary asset to renewable generators on the generation side.”

Encouraging storage uptake – giving customers what they want

In order to ensure sufficient uptake of solar and storage technologies to play this grid-stabilising role, customers need to be able to see real rewards for their participation.

“The more that we can allow people to participate, understand what participation means, and get a fair reward, the more people that will take up these systems, which will then help us to keep the electricity system clean, reliable and low cost into the future,” says Mr Osborne.

While Mr Osborne says that affordable electricity supply is still the number one concern for most customers, a desire to feel empowered also plays a role in motivating them to take up solar and storage technologies.

“That really reflects the fact that electricity hasn’t really been something over which you could exercise much choice in the past,” he says. “People are wanting to feel empowered, they’re wanting to not necessarily just be a price taker anymore, they’re wanting to invest in systems that allow them to exercise some choice over where they get their energy from.”

As well as evidence of “getting their money’s worth” from their solar and storage systems, such as lower power bills, Mr Osborne says customers also want well-tested systems, a great digital experience, and more opportunities to participate in the grid.

“Customers want to be able to see what their home system is doing, and spy on their home from work, and so forth – so digital apps are very important to customers. We also need to let these investors in home energy systems and business energy systems participate in wholesale markets and earn money for doing it.”

Coordinating systems for stable supply

Mr Osborne reinforces the importance of the right software to the successful integration of solar and storage into a grid where energy customers are also energy producers and traders.

“It’s absolutely vital that we keep our electricity system balanced at all times,” he says. “The way you do that is via software systems.”

“So it’s really important that we invest in the right software systems and extend them right out to the edge of the grid, so they can communicate back in with the central system, which is run by the Australian Energy Market operator. That’s what Reposit do.

“If we do that I’m really confident that we can have a clean, reliable, and low cost electricity system in the 21st century.”