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Digital Energy Futures helping to better understand emerging energy technology trends


Energy Consumers Australia

How will we use emerging technologies like electric vehicles and smart appliances in the future and what might this mean for household electricity demand?

Digital Energy Futures is a world first project that is building new knowledge about how people are using emerging energy technologies now and in the future.

We’ve partnered up with Monash University, Ausgrid and AusNet Services on the project, which strives to understand and forecast changing digital lifestyle trends and their impact on future household electricity demand.

Watch the full version of our Digital Energy Futures video below.

Professor Sarah Pink and Associate Professor Yolande Strengers head up the research from the Emerging Technology Research Lab based at Monash University’s Caufield Campus. Our CEO Lynne Gallagher is Chair of Digital Energy Futures Advisory Committee and brings her valuable consumer perspective to the project.

Predicting the future

Initial Digital Energy Futures work identified that the energy and technology industry have already made bold predictions about how the future may look in respect to energy technology trends.

The first stage of the project was to chart and illustrate the industry predicted futures to establish a reference point for conducting further research about how people will actually use energy technology in the future.

Dr Kari Dahlgren from the Emerging Technology Research Lab conducted the assembly of these industry predicted scenarios, and developed an innovative way of presenting the findings. Comic strips were created to represent each of the six industry predicted future scenarios and are detailed in full within the Digital Energy Futures: June 2020 Report.

“We wanted to use comic strips as a way of representing these futures because they really helped to express the way in which these industry predictions about the future actually have implications in the home.” – Dr Kari Dahlgren, Emerging Technology Research Lab.

Testing vision against reality

The comic strips illustrating the predicted industry futures contained in the Digital Energy Futures: June 2020 Report were then used as a prompt in a wave of ethnographic research interviews to reconcile the predicted scenarios against how real people are living their lives.

The candid ethnographic research video interviews uncovered that people’s views sometimes differed to the industry predicted scenarios. For example, ‘The smart charging commuter’ scenario predicted people would charge their electric cars whilst at work, but the ethnographic research revealed that people envisioned their home being a ‘charging hub’ for their vehicles.

Building better energy forecasting

Through this ethnographic research and subsequent research stages, the Digital Energy Futures project will respond to the implications of the industry predictions and bring the energy industry visions together.

This will lead to a reworking of the scenarios to develop a forecasting methodology for near and medium-far futures. This improved forecasting model will be used to better inform the Australian energy sector to help meet the needs and expectations of Australian households as we step into the future.

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