standardised communication protocols a vital part of the practical application of demand flexibility

The FlexTalk industry project is recommending the electricity sector adopt a standardised protocol for communication and data exchange, to manage some of the challenges in achieving wide-spread engagement in demand flexibility.

The joint Electricity Engineers’ Association (EEA) and EECA (Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority) project today published its final report for industry, along with a technical insights document.

The project concluded that any adopted protocol should deliver standardised functionalities, namely that it should enable real-time data exchange and be interoperable, secure, scalable, maintainable, platform independent, backward and forward compatible, and non-proprietary.

Only two internationally recognised communication protocols currently fulfil these criteria: OpenADR and IEEE 2030.5. Despite their differences, both were assessed as being effective in managing distributed energy resources and demand response initiatives for their respective intended use cases.

FlexTalk is a collaborative project between the EEA, EECA and the power industry, working to identify how businesses, consumers and flexibility service providers could be enabled to provide and participate in demand flexibility services in New Zealand.

In the first phase of FlexTalk, the project set out to investigate existing open communication protocols and their potential application in New Zealand. It used live events to explore the feasibility and interoperability of one such protocol, OpenADR, to enable the exchange of information and data between an electricity distribution company and flexibility supplier.

EEA Chief Executive Peter Berry says as Aotearoa New Zealand transitions to a fully renewable energy future, demand flexibility will form an important part of future energy security, reliability, resilience, and investment options.

“Consumers are becoming more actively engaged with the electricity system through the uptake of electric vehicles, solar photovoltaics, battery storage systems and home energy management systems.

“The rise of such consumer energy resources is driving change in how distribution networks integrate them within the system, and how the networks effectively manage, multi-directional flows of energy.

“It is essential that all participants and their devices connected to the system can communicate and exchange information with one another effectively, regardless of the technology, flexibility supplier or distribution network.

“The adoption of an open communication standard is a vital part of the practical application of flexibility across New Zealand.

EECA’s Chief Executive Marcos Pelenur says the work will help all stakeholders move with more confidence into a future that leverages the full benefit of customer flexibility resources in a mutually beneficial way.

“This work was just the first step in establishing what could be a way forward for the effective integration of smart technologies and distributed energy resources.

“More broadly, we recognise there is a need for a long-term strategy around the role of smart technologies and distributed energy resources in New Zealand’s energy transition including the required regulatory framework to support better integration, and how we as an industry can support the consumer to understand the opportunity demand flexibility holds.

“Of equal significance is the way the industry has come together to share and collaborate in pursuit of a solutions to difficult problems.

“We look forward to continuing this work in supporting Aotearoa New Zealand’s energy transition.”

Flextalk: The demand flexibility common communication protocols project final report provides details of research, testing and results along with learnings, and information on future issues for consideration. FlexTalk: OpenADR technical insights report provides a set of technical insights to facilitate the communication and data exchange that will enable interoperability between customers, flexibility suppliers, and distribution companies across Aotearoa New Zealand.

For more information visit the FlexTalk Project.


About the EEA

The Electricity Engineers’ Association successfully enables the electricity supply industry to provide New Zealand with sustainable, reliable and safe electricity now and into the future.

It provides expert electricity system engineering, technical, and safety advice that is pan industry, innovative, inclusive, and trusted.


Deb Gray 021 624 170

About EECA

EECA is a Crown entity as defined in the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Act 2000. Its function is to encourage, promote, and support energy efficiency, energy conservation, and the use of renewable sources of energy.

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