An electricity provider is expected by its customers to supply electricity at the flick of a switch, but how does the provider know when customers are going to flick that switch? Determining when the peak demand might occur and how high that peak might be requires an understanding of when different types of customers are likely to use electricity and how much they might use. Horizon Power therefore needed to develop a suite of “typical” daily consumption patterns or “load profiles” for their residential customers.
The Data Analysis Australia Approach
Based on our understanding of the key drivers of electricity consumption, we expected that the load profiles of residential customers would largely depend on the following questions:
- Does the household have air-conditioners installed? A household with an air-conditioner is likely to use significantly more electricity on hotter days.
- Does the household have solar panels installed? A household with solar panels is likely to purchase significantly less electricity during daylight hours, when they can supply their own.
- Does the household have people at home during the day on weekdays? A household with people at home during the day is likely to use more electricity in the middle of the day, especially if they have an air-conditioner.
However, electricity providers don’t usually know whether each household they must supply has an air-conditioner and they certainly don’t know whether there is likely to be someone at home during the day. Therefore Data Analysis Australia’s approach was to work with raw electricity consumption data to try to identify daily consumption patterns that might match our expectations.
We used half-hourly electricity consumption for thousands of individual customers; data that were collected over a time period spanning several years as part of Western Power's Perth Solar City program. As there are 8,760 hours in a year, the data set contained hundreds of millions of cells and millions of records. From this we wanted to obtain a relatively small number of load profiles.