Project Overview

Duration: 15 months (2020 – 2021)

Budget: $257,000

Contact: Mr Hugo Temby, Social Researcher, Battery Storage and Grid Integration Program, Australian National University.

Partners: The Energy and Water Ombudsman Victoria and the Victorian Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning.

New energy technologies are poised to radically transform the Australian energy sector. Australia leads the world, per capita, in the adoption of rooftop solar and batteries while electric vehicles, virtual power plants and microgrids continue to grow in popularity.  

There is increasing interest among Australians in taking greater control over their personal use of energy through smart appliances and systems and in the production of renewable forms of energy such as rooftop solar. 

“We are witnessing a revolution where Australians are taking matters into their own hands and are enthusiastically adopting new, household energy technologies at a record pace,” said Hugo Temby, a social researcher leading the project within the Battery Storage and Grid Integration Program at the Australian National University (ANU). “Reasons for this include the high cost of energy and strong environmental values. 

While the uptake in new energy technologies has the potential to empower households and lead to improved financial and environmental outcomes, they are evolving faster than consumer protection frameworks. This could expose households to increased and unfamiliar risks and reduce the take up – and therefore the benefits of new energy technology adoption. 

Research conducted in this project aims to assist the Energy and Water Ombudsman Victoria (EWOV) to consider its future jurisdiction and operational focus and assist policymakers to ensure that the Victorian consumer protection frameworks, designed to safeguard householders, remains fit-for-purpose. Research will also inform potential new areas of energy complaints that will arise as new energy products and services are developed and adopted. 

This project will focus on household experiences with the technology and any problems they have experienced along the way. Through a series of householder interviews and focus groups this project will increase understanding of peoples’ attitudes to, and experiences with seven new energy technologies: 

  • Solar panels 
  • Batteries 
  • Electric vehicles  
  • Virtual power plants 
  • Microgrids 
  • Home energy management systems  
  • Peer-to-peer trading. 

In addition to the householder interviews and focus groups, ANU researchers will conduct an analysis of social media discourses on electric vehicles and virtual power plants.