Communication protocols provide a set of rules and guidelines to facilitate information exchange between two or more entities. In the context of demand response, a common communication protocol (in this case OpenADR®) serves as the backbone for effective and efficient data transmission between various components of the system.
These protocols define the rules and standards for data exchange, ensuring compatibility and interoperability between different devices and systems such as the electricity distribution network and solar and wind generation, and EVs.
The tools to deliver a protocol are the set of agreed cooperating software applications that enable the submission, processing, and storage of information in an automated, electronic exchange.
A ‘common’ protocol means that the same tools are used across the industry.
Across Aotearoa New Zealand there are 29 electricity distribution businesses and one transmission business, who will all need to decide what technology they might use to enable demand flexibility.
Without a standardised approach, they could develop and implement different protocols, meaning we risk losing, or vastly under-utilising, demand flexibility and consequently hinder proper grid integration.
Standardisation simplifies the integration of different systems and components, reducing complexity and ensuring consistency in communication. The true benefit of standardising means that any flexibility supplier entering the market can "plug and play" with any EDB without having to create bespoke solutions. This ability to adopt and participate creates market competition, and ultimately results in lowering price to the consumer (via their electricity bill).
Other benefits include:
Early insights from participating in the trial of OpenADR suggest the best outcome is an open and standardised communication protocol for demand flexibility. Real-time testing and industry-developed guidance, such as will be delivered via this project, will help the electricity supply industry to prepare for, and support this.
OpenADR® was chosen because it is an open, highly secure model and global, smart grid IEC standard. It standardises the message format used for demand response and the management of distributed energy resources, so that signals can be exchanged in a uniform and interoperable way among network providers, flexibility suppliers, home energy management systems and smart devices.
As part of the project, we are reviewing a range of protocols and seeking external advice on those that exist and the rationale for adoption internationally. We understand that the country’s needs will evolve and so we are not limiting the solution to one protocol i.e., there may be a place for one or more as more DER enters the system and we transition to clean energy future.
Adoption of OpenADR® 2.0 is occurring across Europe and Asia, as well as throughout many parts of North America including California, Nevada, Texas, Florida, Arizona and Hawaii.
The OpenADR® Alliance was created by industry to help organisations around the world standardise demand response, demand flexibility and distributed energy resources communications, automate processes, simplify customer energy management, and eliminate stranded assets.
In New Zealand, Transpower and Cortexo are also members of the OpenADR Alliance.
For Part A, the programmes were:
For Part B the additional programmes are being tested:
Part A tested only one-way communication using simple signals, while part B has been testing two-way communication and more complex requests for flexibility such as actual load reductions and pricing signals.
In Part A, two of the six industry designed flexibility programmes were tested allowing three participating EDBs and two flexibility suppliers to participate in dynamic (non-price) and immediate emergency requests for demand flexibility.
Part A was also only targeting EV charging however, with the introduction of Solar Zero into Part B, we have been able to test communication with batteries as well.
Part A has demonstrated interoperability, with EDBs and flexibility suppliers able to send, receive and act on requests for demand flexibility using OpenADR 2.0a communications protocol and their internal systems.
Part A has also provided insights into the wider implications that need to be considered. For example, it has been identified that further work is required to define the roles, responsibilities, and potential regulatory settings as this will help industry navigate the transition to greater electrification.
This work is the first step in investigating how we integrate distributed energy flexibility within our distribution networks to optimise energy use. We expect the outcomes to be published in April 2024 to provide guidance as to FlexTalk assessment of OpenADR as a protocol fit for NZ context and where the next stage of research and trials need to go.