CSIRO "internet of things" pilot aims to cut community housing power bills by 80%

The newly launched solar and battery storage optimisation platform from CSIRO-backed start-up Evergen is being put to the test in a first of its kind pilot program that will see the technology installed in 10 low-income households in New South Wales.
Evergen’s technology, which was developed by the CSIRO and has been backed by AMP Capital, uses a household’s power consumption patterns and weather forecasts to decide when to use solar power, when to store it, and when to draw from the battery or the grid, according to what is the most cost-effective for the household.
The pilot project – the first of its kind in Australia – is co-funded by NSW’s Office of Environment, the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and community housing organisation SGCH. The hope is that it will allow SGCH tenants to reduce their energy bills by up to 80 per cent.
The Evergen systems, which were installed in each of the 10 houses in October, combine rooftop solar PV and battery storage, the latter of which will be installed in a common, purpose built shed.
As well as saving the low-income tenants “significant amounts” off their household energy costs,  Evergen CEO Dr Glenn Platt hopes that the program will also empower them to better manage how they use electricity.
“This is a piece of technology that we see as vital in the future of community housing and we are excited to be at the forefront of this,” Platt said in a statement on Wednesday.
SGCH Group CEO Scott Langford hopes the pilot will provide valuable information on the benefits for households that have been shown to spend three times what high-income households spend on in-home energy.
“It is these people who would benefit the most from energy saving measures in their homes, but who can not afford the large up front costs of items like solar panels.”
As we reported here in August, Evergen’s technology has so far been limited to a number of beta versions, available to customers as part of an early release program.
A second-stage release program, set for January 2017, was partly funded by investments from both AMP Capital and its former chief executive Stephen Dunne – now a board member of Evergen alongside CSIRO’s Alex Wonhas – who have put a combined $2.9 million into the venture.
This, combined with the CSIRO’s $800,000 investment, means Evergen – whose research is based out of CSIRO’s Newcastle Energy Centre – has raised a total of $3.7 million to trial and refine its system before commercial release.
So far, the units have been trialled in a number of Australian homes for a period of 12 months and are subject to rigorous and ongoing safety and performance testing in collaboration with CSIRO.
Evergen says the cost of its technology is competitive with comparable solar and battery solutions and includes the solar panels and battery units as well as the intelligent management hardware, home consultation and installation.
“Distributed energy technologies such as rooftop solar are the biggest growth areas in the market globally, and upcoming new technologies will completely change a market that has operated the same way for decades,” said Evergen CEO Dr Glenn Platt.
“We are already working on a range of product innovations, which will add new options to the Evergen smart system during the next five years,” he said.
In the NSW community housing trial, Evergen has selected battery hardware provided by Alpha ESS, which has worked collaboratively with Evergen to develop its intelligent energy system.

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