CSIRO models electricity demand

The nation's peak research body has developed a computer model which aims to predict the supply and demand of electricity.Dubbed the National Electricity Market Simulator (NEMSIM), the model -- under development at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) -- would allow companies in the electricity sector to predict energy demand scenarios for timeframes between a few days and 30 years in the future.

The nation's peak research body has developed a computer model which aims to predict the supply and demand of electricity.

Dubbed the National Electricity Market Simulator (NEMSIM), the model -- under development at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) -- would allow companies in the electricity sector to predict energy demand scenarios for timeframes between a few days and 30 years in the future.

Project leader George Grozev said the software used simulated intelligent 'agents' to represent the 90 market participants such as electricity generator companies, retail companies and a market regulator.

According to the CSIRO, the software had the potential to save companies millions of dollars, due to its ability to make sense of a market in which wholesale electricity prices regularly fluctuated from $10 per megawatt hour up to $10,000.

Recent advances in the art of simulation and learning algorithms had made the development of NEMSIM possible, said the research body.

CSIRO business development manager Bilip Manuel told ZDNet Australia&nbsp his organisation would initially attempt to use the product to carry out consultancy work with local energy companies.

However, a wider target for the software could beckon.

Manuel said NEMSIM's user interface will have to be more user friendly. Once this work -- which will probably be carried out with a local software partner -- was completed, the software could reach a more global audience.

He said the model could eventually be used to predict demand in foreign countries for additional commodities like gas and water, adding that the CSIRO could tailor the software for different customers.

"We would only need some additional local data such as weather patterns for that," Manuel said.