‘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.

Hybrid systems to transform smart energy future

Hybrid energy systems deliver cost and efficiency advantages when compared with single energy systems and are now the focus of strengthened CSIRO and industry collaboration.

CSIRO recently launched its Centre for Hybrid Energy Systems, a collaborative facility to research cutting edge renewable and hybrid energy technologies.

Hybrid systems are those which combine two or more forms of energy generation, storage or end-use technologies. Configurations include renewable or non-renewable energy sources, electrical and chemical energy storage and fuel cells, often connected via a smart grid.

CSIRO’s new Centre, at Clayton in Melbourne, is a hub for researchers and industry to identify, improve and then tailor energy technologies to meet specific requirements.

The collaborative space will be used to share the benefits of emerging hybrid energy systems with industry and government to maximise the value of local energy sources.

CSIRO Fellow Dr Sukhvinder Badwal said there was a rapidly growing global demand for hybrid energy systems based on increased availability of renewable and modular power generation and storage technologies such as batteries, fuel cells, and household solar.

“These technologies are becoming cost competitive, but the key to greater use is to combine them in connected hybrid systems,” Dr Badwal said.

“By doing this, we can offer substantial improvements in performance, reliability of power, flexibility and cost.”

Centre for Hybrid Energy Systems partner, Delta Energy Systems Australia, is a developer and manufacturer of solar-supported, fast-charging technologies for electric vehicles.

Delta Energy Systems Australia Director Allen Chao said his company was set to embark on a range of collaborative research projects with CSIRO in this field.

“The opening of the Centre for Hybrid Energy Systems expands research in this area and marks a significant milestone to ensure the success of any industry cooperation,” Mr Chao said.

Senior Executive Advisor to the Board of Toyota Australia, Bernie O’Connor congratulated CSIRO on the opening of a research hub for these important technologies.

“Toyota Australia recognises the importance of research into alternate green energy sources, as well as its role in the development of future infrastructure for fuel cell vehicles, which are powered exclusively by hydrogen,” Mr O’Connor said.

The Centre for Hybrid Energy Systems will also provide education, testing and certification services for emerging storage batteries, hydrogen and fuel cell technologies.

The Centre is underpinned by CSIRO’s research across low-emission energy technologies that create value for industry and households across Australia.

Opportunity for Ginninderra development and the ACT

Ginninderra is one of the potential sites for ‘real world’ application, innovation and development of such new and emerging hybrid systems. While it’s relatively early days in our planning process, Ginninderra presents the opportunity to introduce a constantly evolving smart hybrid energy management system.

Such a system could integrate all the various components including: household and community energy consumption, on-site and household renewable energy generation, fuel cell and on-site storage, electric vehicle charging, right through to the management of energy imported from or exported to the grid.

While a lot of pieces to bring together, it presents as a fantastic opportunity for us to do our bit for the ACT and for Australia’s smart, secure and sustainable energy future.

For more information, visit


Centre for Hybrid Energy Systems

Centre for Hybrid Energy Systems

Centre for Hybrid Energy Systems

Centre for Hybrid Energy Systems

The future of stormwater at Ginninderra

The population of the ACT is projected to grow to half a million people by 2033.

With this urban growth and the changing climate we can expect an increased demand for water and the generation of more stormwater and sewage.

CSIRO is committed to sustainable urban water management and undertaking research that will help reduce the demand for potable water supply in our cities. This includes research on various aspects of reducing water use and making better use of available rainfall, stored and potable water and waste water streams.

“Urban stormwater is a relatively untapped resource that could help Canberra meet its future water supply requirements,” said CSIRO Researcher Dr Declan Page

CSIRO examined the feasibility of a range of stormwater harvesting and irrigation options in Canberra during 2007 to 2009, working with the ACT and Commonwealth Government’s on Phase 1 of the Canberra Integrated Urban Waterways Project.

In addition to reducing demand for potable water, stormwater harvesting has the potential to provide stormwater quality improvements, flood mitigation, urban habitat outcomes, and has the potential to improve the aesthetics and the recreation value of urban parks.

The stormwater harvesting options that were considered included; use of existing lakes and ponds, the construction of new ponds, through to options that involved combining stormwater with water stored in aquifers or with reclaimed water.

This CSIRO research was used by the ACT Government to support the feasibility through to detailed design and construction of three pilot stormwater harvesting and reticulation projects, namely Inner North Canberra, Weston Creek and Tuggeranong.

The Inner North Stormwater Reticulation Network in the Sullivan’s Creek Catchment is Canberra’s first neighbourhood-scale stormwater harvesting and managed aquifer recharge system. Urban stormwater is captured and treated in constructed wetlands and then pumped though a reticulation network for irrigation of urban green spaces.

The ACT Government is currently trialling managed aquifer recharge as part of this Inner North scheme, which involves the injection of stormwater into a bore, where it is stored in underground aquifers and retrieved when required during peak irrigation.

CSIRO has considerable expertise in this innovative urban water technology, having recently completed a large study on Managed Aquifer Recharge and Stormwater Use Options (MARSUO) commissioned by the Goyder Institute for Water Research.

The aim of the study was to provide water managers and the community with the data needed to make informed decisions on stormwater harvesting and storage.

“Stormwater could be treated to a drinking water quality and not just used for open space, third pipe or industrial uses. The costs of doing this, however, are similar to the costs of conventional potable water supply,” said co-author of the study Dr Page

“Nonetheless, the MARSUO study shows that water quality/safety issues can be effectively managed in line with the National Water Quality Management Strategy”.

It is early days to consider stormwater options in the Ginninderra project, as we await the outcome of the land reclassification decision under Draft Amendment 86 of the National Capital Plan, which is required to consider the potential future urban development of the site.

Having said that, Ginninderra Creek and Halls Creek and their associated riparian areas are significant features of the Ginninderra site and the broader landscape.

“Ensuring the retention of adequate space for stormwater capture and treatment, providing green corridors along water courses, and implementing water sensitive urban design throughout the site, is all of paramount importance”, said Dr Page.

CSIRO researchers are currently investigating the water resource potential at the Ginninderra site and the types of stormwater use options. As noted in a previous update, one of these future uses will likely include the provision of water to support the cooling benefits of healthy vegetation to combat the Urban Heat Island effect.

As the project progresses, CSIRO looks forward to interacting with key stakeholders such as the ACT Government, Icon Water, and Ginninderra Catchment Group, as well as neighbouring communities and businesses, to discuss stormwater options.