Monash eResearch Centre

How We Work – The Digital Co-ops team at MeRC

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is AboutMeRC-2.jpg

The Monash eResearch Centre (MeRC) is where cutting-edge technology meets real-world applications. An internationally leading eResearch initiative, our diverse staff supports over 2000 researchers across Monash, Australia and the world, managing world-class capabilities including the MASSIVE high-performance computing facility, the R@CMon node of the Nectar Research Cloud, and a petabyte-scale research data storage infrastructure. Our staff work closely with researchers and the community not only to ensure our technology meets their needs but to also raise the skills of researchers in areas such as HPC, data management and visualisation.

One such team is the Digital Cooperatives (Digital Co-ops), within our Research Cloud team who are a team of expert software engineers, data analysts, DevOps and cloud specialists that are working to support one of the biggest transformations in society – the transformation of the energy grid. 

Traditional energy grids rely on a single source of energy production to service the power needs of households and businesses. As these energy resources deplete and the strain on power grids increases, Distributed Energy Resources (DERs) which introduce a distributed controllability to the grid are increasingly prevalent. This introduces a new dimension to the energy grid – the ability for bi-directional transactions. No longer is there a unidirectional transaction in the energy market between consumers and producers. The existence of DERs such as solar panels and batteries has introduced prosumers into the market, able to act as both a consumer and a producer of energy. A prosumer has greater decision making power in the market – able to control their source of energy and sell their energy production, they can make decisions best suited to their circumstances.

While greater flexibility is a positive step for collective action against climate change, the technical implementation of this transformed energy grid is still developing. Around the world, various groups in industry and academia are investigating the technological solution to our new energy grid. 

Enter the MeRC Digital Co-ops team.

Working in partnership with the Monash Net Zero Initiative and collaborating with a number of external partners, the team is looking to accelerate  progress in this area. Our projects are seeking to support the development of an operational-grade fabric as well as a research infrastructure fabric, to allow  the technological components to be adapted as needed. For example, with our industry partner RedGrid we are focussed on the development of the ledger component of the energy grid enabling an Internet of Energy to support transactions in the market. With BrainBox AI and Indra we are developing components to enable an operational-grade fabric for the Smart Energy City at Monash University.Importantly, with our research partners, we aim to support a community of world-leading research in microgrids and power systems providing tools and services to enable broader access (the research microgrid) to our technology and access to real-time data analysis and sharing capabilities (our Energy Data Hub). To achieve all this, we are also working to refresh the data governance and data quality of all our source systems.

The journey to make Monash University campuses a living laboratory for performing energy experiments and deploying our digital platform involves many interactions with partners from around the world. Look out for future stories on our progress, success and open source releases.