DER Visibility and Monitoring Best Practice Guide – real time data is key to industry growth

Why DER energy data is essential

The energy industry is undergoing a rapid transformation from a one way centralised grid to a highly distributed two way electricity network. This transformation is being driven by two key factors

  1. Consumer demand for rooftop solar and storage (and soon electric vehicles) – aka Distributed Energy Resources (DER)
  2. Renewable energy now being the lowest cost form of electricity generation

By 2030, 45% of generation will be behind the meter in Australia. It’s nice to be the world’s best.

Source: AEMO and Energy Networks Australia, Open Energy Networks, Consultation Paper; July 2018

The broad timeline for this rapid transformation is progressively over the coming decade, which due to the immense physical and social inertia is extremely rapid in energy terms. According to the recent Integrated System Plan  and Renewable Integration Study (RIS) reports from AEMO (as well as reports from every other three and four letter acronym energy organisation), a key barrier to this ubiquitous adoption of DER is that industry stakeholders have near zero visibility of what all this DER on our networks is doing.

With over 20% of households now having rooftop solar, this lack of DER data is hampering the efficient transition to a low-cost, high renewable electricity network. And DER is the fastest way to lower electricity costs for everyone, while dramatically lowering our greenhouse gas emissions.

What we are doing about it

In a show of impressive industry wide cooperation, a group of leading technology providers have developed a DER Visibility and Monitoring Best Practice Guide. Developed over a 12 month period with extensive input from across the industry, this Guide details what data is required to:

  1. Equitably and cost effectively increase DER to maintain grid reliability and benefits for all energy consumers, and
  2. Increase the quality, safety and longevity of rooftop solar and DER to maximise the renewable energy generation.

The Guide is now publicly available here: This website provides:

  • Downloads of the Guide, FAQ and sample Use Cases
  • Why this Guide is needed and who supports it
  • Conforming technology vendors that meet the Guide requirements

For the technically minded, at the end of this article a full list of the data requirements is included.

Inverter manufacturers and other technology vendors are encouraged to ensure their equipment conforms to the Guide requirements and have their equipment listed on the website by contacting

What the Guide does

The Guide details what data should be collected by DER, and has two objectives:

  1. Establish a common static and dynamic (near) real-time data set collected for new DER installed behind the meter on the low voltage electricity network.
  2. Increase confidence in the quality and performance of DER to owners, industry and government through the provision of real time system performance data to customers and authorised industry entities.

The Guide is designed to require the minimum amount of data to deliver the maximum benefit for all energy consumers. It is aligned with other industry initiatives such as DER Register, VPP and API working groups being led by AEMO. A few salient points about the Guide:

  • It is voluntary
  • DER is defined as behind the meter devices capable of generating electricity
  • For new grid-connected DER only (not existing systems)
  • Commercial arrangements are required for third parties to access the data
  • DER owner permission is required and they receive value and data

The next step is to determine how this data is made available to third parties to help transform our industry. This will require extensive industry consultation and most importantly large scale trials to demonstrate effective data management and security to ensure customer privacy is maintained.

Data requirements

There are two types of data required:

  1. Static data related to the DER system that does not change or is changed infrequently when changes are made to the system or settings. There are 15 Static data fields (9 required, 6 optional).
  2. Dynamic data related to the DER system that changes frequently depending on the system and grid operating conditions. There are 13 Dynamic data fields (7 required, 6 optional).
Static Data Description Notes
System ID Unique identifier required for each connection point where DER installation is. Required for new installations and what is monitored by the Technology Provider
Location Postcode, statistical area, feeder or address depending on privacy and use AEMO retrieves this information from NMI
System type Type of DER (solar, battery, ev etc) for each DER. Must be able to generate power to be classified as DER.
Technology Provider Organisation name of the Technology Provider (company that provides the data set) More than one provider for a site may occur but is expected to be rare. Input tool to allow more than one provider entered (as an option).
Remote access/ connection Details of type of monitoring attached to site/DER. Specify type of comms (if any), and if any remote control is available Type of comms available, remote control available? Note if not connected by customer choice
Approved capacity Approved small generating unit capacity as agreed with network in theconnection agreement Can be distinct or equal to an export limitation
Solar Retailer Solar /DER Retailer company name and ABN Entity accountable for the installation, modification or removal of the DER. Accredited installer is optional.
Site details Site details and controls applying (eg. export limits) Eg. protective controls, # phases or export limits.
Commissioning date The date that the DER installation is


Optional static data fields: NMI; AC Connection ID; Equipment details; Equipment settings; Device ID; Device details.


Dynamic Data Description Notes
Site Gross Load – Active/Reactive power Total Active/Reactive power consumed by the customer. Per phase is preferable with combined acceptable. Max, Min, Mean
Site Active/Reactive exported power Active/Reactive power exported from the site. Per phase is preferred with combined acceptable. Max, Min, Mean
Site Active/Reactive imported power Active/Reactive power imported from the grid to the site. Per phase is preferred with combined acceptable. Max, Min, Mean
DER generation Active/Reactive power Active/Reactive power generated by each DER. Per phase is preferred with combined acceptable. Max, Min, Mean
DER consumption – Active/Reactive power Active/Reactive power consumed/stored by each DER. Per phase is preferred with combined acceptable Max, Min, Mean
Site Voltage Average AC voltage over the period – measured at meter board Max, Min, Mean
Time Accepted date formats: yyyy-MM-ddThh:mm:ss or  yyyy-MM-ddThh:mm:ss.sss Date and time matched to AEMO VPP data (ISO 8601)

Optional dynamic data fields: Site active/reactive energy imported/exported; DER active/reactive energy consumed/generated; Battery SOC; Frequency


Examples of use cases for this data

The following use cases were identified by the consulted industry organisations or outlined in published reports.

Use Parameters required (at site) Key user group
Network state estimation and performance Voltage Networks, AEMO
Fault identification Voltage and current Networks, AEMO, customers
DER hosting capacity Voltage, active/reactive power generated/consumed Networks, regulators, customers
Compliance Active/reactive power generated, voltage Customers, regulators, networks
Constraint management Capacity, voltage active/reactive power generated/consumed Networks, AEMO
Constraint reporting Capacity, voltage active/reactive power generated/consumed Networks
Orchestrating DER Capacity, voltage active/reactive power generated and consumed Networks, AEMO, VPP operators
Asset owner information on own DER Static data, active imported/exported, site active generated/consumed, time Customers



About our Guest Author

Stefan Jarnason is the co-founder and CEO of Solar Analytics. Stefan has 20+ years of energy industry experience, which includes work in the fields of research, product development, PV module manufacturing, PV system design, large scale project development and solar monitoring.

You can find Stefan on LinkedIn here.

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