‘Smarter than smart’ energy ‘fingerprinting’

To improve energy efficiency in homes, commercial buildings and industrial facilities, CSIRO and a West Australian company are working on a ‘cognitive’ metering system that identifies the electrical ‘fingerprint’ of individual appliances.

In this age of digital immersion, an increasing number of smart technologies are entering the marketplace to help consumers, and indeed building owners, to make savings and improve lifestyle and environmental outcomes.

In the energy domain, smart (or intelligent) systems that help reduce energy consumption are a target of R&D activity and they are a focus of innovation in CSIRO’s Energy research.

Although various smart meters are already available for monitoring overall energy use, these meters are typically unable to break information down into enough detail to show consumers where the big savings can be made.

That’s where CSIRO and Fremantle-based start-up Ecocentric come into the picture.

We are working together to further develop a ‘cognitive’ metering system that recognises the electrical ‘fingerprint’ of individual appliances to improve energy efficiency in homes, commercial buildings and industrial facilities, according to  CSIRO Energy Director Karl Rodrigues.

The system based around Ecocentric’s Numen technology will break data down further than smart metering systems to show where and when energy is being used within a given building.

“It’s a smarter than smart system that will enable us see how much energy individual electrical devices are consuming without the burden of individual sub metering hardware,” says Mr Rodrigues.

“Algorithms designed by some of our top scientists recognise the unique energy ‘fingerprint’ generated by electrical devices and show exactly how much energy they’re consuming,” he says.

“This system enables virtual sub-metering that bypasses the need for costly hardware for individual metering of appliances.”

Numen makes use of cloud-based technology which monitors energy use in real time. Analysis of this real time data can help you to identify faults earlier, and prevent energy from being wasted.

“Data collected by our cognitive meters will allow better decision-making about energy conservation and lead to large reductions in cost and carbon emissions for homes and businesses.”

While Numen is commercial-ready now, the partnership with CSIRO will further develop the algorithms for homes and other buildings.

Ecocentric CEO Tim Bray says, “We are is excited by Numen’s commercial prospects, as well as its potential to lower energy use in the built environment.”

“Numen will be a part of Australia’s contribution to a more energy efficient future,” he says.

Under an agreement, Ecocentric will obtain a licence from CSIRO to the cognitive metering technology and work with CSIRO for six years to further refine the system.

“Research like this is helping drive the next wave of productivity and efficiency in energy consumption,” says Dr Rodrigues.

“This is exactly the sort of system that could be developed, tested and refined in a science-backed sustainable urban development like CSIRO Ginninderra.”

Click here for more information on CSIRO energy research.

CSIRO’s Sam West and Ecocentric’s Paul Lyons examine the Numen energy efficiency device.


A ‘cognitive’ metering system can provide the whole picture or profile of a building’s energy use. Source: Ecocentric.

CSIRO-developed tech for energy-smart homes

Renewable energy start-up Evergen recently launched Australia’s first intelligent home energy management system, with the technical backing of CSIRO.

Combining solar panels and batteries with smart technology, the system continuously analyses and optimises home energy use.

The system chooses the most efficient source for the household’s electricity supply at any given time, switching from solar to stored power as required.

The system looks at the power consumption patterns of each household and local weather to make smart decisions that reduce energy costs.

The system is remotely managed by Evergen and regularly analysed and updated by CSIRO.

CSIRO Energy Director Dr Peter Mayfield is excited to see this CSIRO-developed technology available in Australian homes.

“CSIRO has been at the forefront of solar and battery technology research for many years, and we are committed to the development of intelligent systems and tools which change the way we use energy,” Dr Mayfield said.

“We know that consumers are viewing their household electricity differently and taking more control; intelligent systems allow them to do this with ease.”

Evergen Chairman Stephen Dunne said the system is the gateway to energy-smart homes of the future.

“We’re excited to be taking the science of CSIRO and building it in to an energy system that will benefit families all over Australia,” Mr Dunne said.

CSIRO developed Evergen’s core energy management intelligence and provided research expertise to help Evergen commercialise the product.

The Evergen system is now available to Australians in an early release program, with a second-stage release program in January 2017.

For ACT residents

Evergen was one of eight winners of the ACT Government’s second round of its battery storage auction, part of a nation-leading plan to deploy 36 MW of cutting edge distributed battery storage in more than 5,000 Territory homes and businesses by 2020. ACT residents can save between $3,000-5,000 off the cost of an Evergen System (depending on system size) as part of this next generation ACT Government initiative. As the total subsidy pool is limited, ACT residents will gain access on a first-in basis.

CSIRO has a well established reputation for developing new technologies and partnering with industry to bring innovation to the community. Ginninderra provides an opportunity for this sort of technology and innovation to be practically applied through such collaboration.

Evergen home storage featuring solar panels and Emlyn Keane, Operations Manager from Evergen

Evergen home storage featuring solar panels and Emlyn Keane, Operations Manager from Evergen.


Evergen home storage featuring solar panels and Emlyn Keane, Operations Manager from Evergen, and Natalie Kikken from CSIRO

Evergen home storage featuring solar panels and Emlyn Keane, Operations Manager from Evergen, and Natalie Kikken from CSIRO


Bold green vision for Ginninderra future

Over the past few years a vision has been emerging for what a sustainable urban development backed by science and innovation could be like.

Our vision is to restore and improve our natural environment while setting a new benchmark for sustainable urban development.

The terms ‘benchmark and sustainable’ apply to the extent to which we can maximise and maintain the stream of future environmental, social and economic benefits, that flow from the development and its surrounding natural values.

The aspirations for Ginninderra are closely aligned with many of Australia’s key policy settings and targets namely in areas of national innovation, infrastructure, cities and built environment, energy and climate, water and the economy.

CSIRO is well placed to significantly address these important issues because of our coverage of relevant research areas and our capacity to draw on all of these and engage the right collaborators and partners.

We are looking to provide multiple benefits through combining a diversity of housing, community and recreational facilities together with some retail and commercial opportunities, all integrated with the restoration, conservation and management of the landscape and its important natural and heritage values such as the endangered Box Gum Grassy Woodlands.

We are absolutely committed to the management and restoration at Ginninderra of areas of threatened vegetation types and species that are protected by ACT or Commonwealth legislation.

Protection of trees regulated and administered by the Tree Protection Act 2005 is an essential component and CSIRO is developing guidelines that extend beyond its regulatory obligations to ensure their preservation.

This commitment has extended to comprehensive environmental studies that sees approximately 130ha of the site largely protected by legislation and a further 80ha that CSIRO has identified should be managed to protect ecological and heritage values.

Ginninderra residents and other water and energy users will draw benefits from the efficient and sensitive management and use of water and the leading-edge energy efficiency and renewable energy opportunities that we are exploring for the site.

We want to contribute to the evolution of urban areas from being ‘consumer and polluter’ to being ‘energy and water efficient’ and ‘environment protectors’.

We want to help solve the issue of affordable housing, particularly for those in the lower 40 per cent of incomes.

Encouraged by the ideas and feedback generated at our recent gathering of experts – The Affordable Housing Think Tank – we are firmly committed to providing real and lasting affordable housing options, among the property mix at Ginninderra. This will extend well beyond the asking price for moving into the neighbourhood, to various other aspects that affect the cost of living including energy, water and transport.

These topics and others including urban food growing, waste minimisation, recycling and reuse have regularly been raised in our community conversations and we will continue to explore these in future planning together with our joint venture partner.

We are aspiring to urban planning and design that can promote such features, encourage social interactions and connections and maintain an accessible open space network.

CSIRO is committed to keep building this vision with the community and to plan the development with and for the community. There are many steps and stages in front of us before any development occurs and we want to work with the community throughout.

We see community innovation and opportunities for ‘citizen science’ as fundamental components in the creation and future success of this venture.

Citizen science and community activity is already underway and helping to deliver our environmental commitments at five sites across our Ginninderra property, led by the Ginninderra Catchment Group, Landcare member groups and some of its 500 volunteers. This group is extending its work with autumn burning to recover and restore native grasslands in the Ginninderra catchment.

This and other community-driven work will provide valuable insights on how best to restore and conserve areas of the endangered White Box-Yellow Box-Blakely’s Red Gum Grassy Woodland and Derived Native Grassland located on the site.

CSIRO is committed to remaining involved and achieving the exemplar in sustainable urban development.

The reason we are seeking a joint venture development partner is because we want to be closely involved with Ginninderra – firstly, to ensure that we can achieve these conservation, sustainability, liveability and affordability goals. Beyond that we want to realise knowledge and innovation from this development that can be applied more broadly for benefit in the ACT, Australia and beyond.