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If you’re in Australia, you may have heard about a rule change that commenced from the 1st of October regarding 5 minute settlement on the National Electricity Market (NEM). The main reason for the change is to support investment in ‘fast-response’ technologies including batteries / demand-response and to reduce what may at best be called ‘disorderly bidding’ and ‘inefficient price outcomes’. While the move from 30 to 5 minute settlement is a big deal for generators and for large energy users, on the spot market, you might think it has little relevance to buildings who are not exposed to spot prices.

On 1st of October, Buildings Alive customers will see no change in their service, however it is of massive significance to some of our upcoming capabilities. Initially we will validate the 5 minute data being received from metering providers (who have had a very busy few months preparing for this change). Initially our feedback technologies will continue as is but will in the near future begin to provide 5min modelling and feedback rather than the current 15min. This will allow finer grained insights into building performance.

It’s important to note that on-site energy management systems usually have the ability to provide real-time data, however these systems are generally proprietary and don’t provide a standard, consistent method to gather and utilise data across an entire portfolio. 5 minute settlement will give finer grained detail in a consistent format across portfolios.

5 minute settlement provides significant opportunities for energy users to participate in the market by way of demand-response. Previously, the value of demand/response would have been ‘settled’ across a half hour interval, meaning to make a meaningful contribution, a building would need to significantly reduce demand over a full half an hour. With 5 minute settlement, fast spikes in prices can potentially be responded to immediately by a brief cut in HVAC energy use (for example), resulting in no noticeable impact to the building’s indoor conditions, but resulting in a small windfall for the building operators.

In addition to this, 5 minute interval data will become critical to active-efficiency and real-time-carbon management (which we have written about most recently here). Further supporting these capabilities is the increasing prevalence of metering providers offering the option of connecting to clients data in ‘near real time’, meaning that data delivery (and response to this information) can happen as the day progresses.

The future grid will involve actors on both sides of the meter interacting with the grid to promote grid stability while operating at REAL (not ‘net’) zero carbon. Buildings will play a key role in this future grid as retailers switch from being in the business of selling ‘electrons’ to being in the business of trading flexibility of energy generators and consumers.