A New South Wales start-up has won a $2.5 million grant from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency to test its internet-of-things solution to the nation’s growing number of energy hungry household swimming pools – a solution that could benefit households and the grid.
The company, called Pooled Energy, is in the early stages of rolling out its “integrated solution” of pool automation and energy management services that can cut swimming pool energy consumption from almost half of total household usage (40 per cent), to 10 per cent.
According to Pooled Energy’s website, the company has been fine tuning the technology and “ecosystem” over the past seven years, as part of a $20 million R&D program funded by parent company, Efficiency Filters, which is also Australian.
At the same time, the company has established itself is an electricity retailer in the National Electricity Market, to develop a virtual private national grid that sells only to swimming pool owners and operators.
The $5 million ARENA-backed pilot project will see Pooled Energy expand the trial of their technology from 400 to 5,000 backyard swimming pools in NSW.
Sydney households who join the 5MW trial will have an intelligent pool control system installed that automates and optimises both energy use and chemical use, as well as the water quality of their swimming pool.
But the company’s other main goal – and most likely the reason for ARENA’s interest in the pilot – is to “pool the pools,” providing demand-side management capability to the grid.
ARENA says the trial hopes to demonstrate how a large fleet of swimming pools – not unlike a large fleet of residential air-conditioners – can be coordinated to deliver demand response using a cloud-based IoT system.
To do this, Pooled Energy can curb swimming pool consumption during peak times. Alternatively, when power surges, demand response can prevent outages during extreme peaks such as summer heatwaves or can provide grid stability, the release says.
According to the Pooled Energy website, the benefits of this could be multiple; working to stabilise supply, lower grid power costs, and could even have the effect of helping to “remove one power station from the grid.”
“Household swimming pools take up a very large load on the electricity network and can contribute to high energy bills for families,” said ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht on Wednesday.
“Pooled Energy’s technology will now be able to test turning that load into a significant contribution in providing low cost demand response in significant volume, alongside making significant productivity improvements,” Frischknecht said.
The company has all sorts of interesting facts and figures and estimates on savings on its website – including the table below – which is well worth a visit.
As noted above, the technology has so far been tested in NSW, but the company is permitted to operate in the retail markets of South Australia, the ACT, Tasmania and Queensland, too.
According to the website, the offer is currently only available in Sydney, for residential and strata pools. But will be launching into new markets and states in the future.