Summing up calendar 2023 (our 24th year of operations)

Happy New Year!

It’s difficult to believe that it’s January 2024 – and that means we’ve just clocked over 24 years of service to our clients … who’ve mostly been (in various ways) stakeholders in Australia’s National Electricity Market.

  • A very long time … Looking back it seems like a lifetime ago that the NEM commenced operations (just before we started operations).
  • But also a very short time … But you know how they say ‘time flies when having fun!’, and much of our history (and particularly in recent years) we’ve been in a very fortunate position where we largely choose what we want to work on, in terms of pushing our products further to try to stay ahead of client needs in the evolving energy market.

Over that time since the company was formed at the start of 2000 we’ve been consistently striving to make the energy market more understandable:

Approach #1)  Through the range of different software-based products and services we’ve developed (directly, and in collaboration with others); and also

Approach 2)  Via investment in other service providers that help energy market participants in other ways.

We do this with the intent that clients can make their own decisions, relevant to their own circumstances.

(A) Customers

Across our 24 years of history, our client base (and the ways that we serve) has continued to grow in size, and evolve in need … but we’ve always strived to remain consistent with our core Mission.

For over 20 years we’ve been drawing diagrams* like these to represent the types of clients we focus on serving.

* those who have known us for longer might even remember the popular ‘Market Map™’ large-size wall charts we used to prepare, that listed individual companies.

The key point for readers here is that:

  • We serve a large and growing number of wholesale market participants;
  • But we also serve a diverse range of other stakeholders of the electricity supply system/market.

Through 2023 we welcomed a number of new clients onboard … and we also appreciated reaching key milestones with a number of clients (5 years of service, 10 years of service, 15 years of service, etc…).

 

(B) Team

We’ve noted for years that our Vision is to (continue to) significantly scale the number of clients we serve … but without a similar scaling of the number of team we employ.

Doing both together requires that we work a certain way – and we relish the challenge of delivering both together.

(B1) Notable additions

It’s worth noting that we’ve been pleased to be back working much more closely with Christian through 2023:

(a)  Some readers (who have known us for years) might recall Christian worked with us a number of years ago, but not so much in more recent times.

(b)  Since the second half of 2022 that involvement has ramped up again … and this has helped us resolve some design challenges for our (ez2view and other) software.

We’re not actively looking for new team members, but if we happened to come across people who would work well with us (either internally or externally) we’d like to have that conversation.

(B2) Distributed … but Together

Like many organisations we shifted to a remote working arrangement in 2020 with the advent of COVID lockdowns – which also facilitated the extension of our team beyond Brisbane and into Melbourne and Sydney.

Through 2022 and 2023:

(a)  many of the Brisbane team have chosen to revert back to ‘most days in the office’ type of arrangement; and
(b)  through 2023 there was also the opportunity to gather with those not in Brisbane:

i.  in our office on occasions,
ii.  or out at industry events.

It was great to have almost our whole team in the Brisbane office for a few days in December 2023 around our company Xmas Party.

Like other organisations, we’re still evolving our own ideal hybrid working arrangements … so I’d expect more evolution into 2024.

(B3) Multipliers

In addition to our direct employees, we’ve appreciated the opportunity to extend our capability by working with a range of external contractors – I’ve mentioned Christian above, but also Jonathon Dyson and the team at GVSC, Allan O’Neil and others.

Out of those relationships have arisen other opportunities as well – such as our investment in Overwatch Energy (noted below).

We’re looking to extend those relationships further, and build new ones, into 2024.

(B4) Out and About

Moving on further from the unfortunate days of COVID lockdowns in 2020 and 2021, we were grateful for the opportunity to be out and about at various in-person events through the year

although we are also very grateful that there’s no longer a desire to hop on a plane for a single client meeting in another city!

For instance, on 5th September 2023, Dan Lee presented at the ‘Smart Energy Queensland 2023’ conference – and followed this up two days later with his article ‘Long or short on storage? A look into price signals for duration’ on WattClarity®.

 

 

(C) Reflections on the NEM in 2023, as seen through WattClarity ®

Thankfully 2023 in the NEM did not reach the extremes the ‘Energy Crisis’ year of 2022.

But there were still a fair share of challenges– which Dan Lee shared via his article ‘By the numbers: A wrap-up of 2023 on WattClarity’ on this site on 21st December 2023 :

Dan’s summary highlights the 250 articles written through the year (actually a few more articles by the end of the year) … averaging over an article per working day for a service that’s something we work on in our ‘spare time’.

We’d appreciate hearing from our readers here how this summary helps in reflecting on ‘the year that was’ for 2023?

 

(D) Evolution of software & services

Over the 24 years we’ve been serving our clients, our product suite has continued to evolve … all the time striving to deliver on our Mission of ‘making complexity understandable’ (albeit in an increasingly complicated NEM!).

(D1) Service Status Page

As an extension to our service (and following customer suggestions) during 2023 we implemented a first version of a Service Status page at the following location:

https://status.global-roam.com/

It’s intended to be a communications point through which we can keep clients updated with respect to any disruption to our services, should they occur.

Depending on feedback we receive from customers, it might be something we extend and enhance further into 2024?

 

(D2) Data Services

Through 2023 we followed a recent trend in increasing the types of ‘Data Service’ provided to a growing number of clients.

(a)  Worth noting (in particular) the growing number of Market Participants we serve with their own form of outsourced Hosted MMS including Private Data in Azure.

(b)  Give us a call if you’d like to discuss how we can help you?

 

(D3) ez2view (release of v9.6 and v9.7 and v9.8)

Through calendar 2023 we released 194 successive upgrades to our ez2view software:

(a)  that’s an average of almost 4 updates every week
(b)  and an illustration of our iterative development methodology.

Some highlights are as follows:

ez2view v9.6.* from Feb 2023

On 10th February 2023 we released the first permutation of ez2view v9.6.* (this one was v9.6.1.4) … and on 9th May 2023 we released the last permutation of v9.6.* (this one was v9.6.1.99).

… This was the last one compatible with MMS v5.0 (and v5.1).

In particular worth noting the enhancements made with respect to features such as:

(a)  Visibility and understanding of MT PASA DUID Availability data (a theme for 2023)

(b)  Extending the capability of the software in relation to Constraints and Constraint Sets; and

(c)  Improved Alerting.

ez2view v9.7.* from June 2023

On 1st June 2023 we released v9.7.1.25 as one of the early iterations compatible with MMS v5.2.

Amongst other things

(a)  We did this to prepare for the commencement of a change for Semi-Scheduled units bid:

i.  which revolved around enabling the use of MaxAvail in the bid to signal physical limitations of the plant;

ii.  Which went live on 7th Aug 2023, as we noted at the time.

iii.  Incidentally, this change is one of a number that will be a focus for us in an expanded GSD2023.

(b)  We continued to extend the software’s functionality in relation to Constraints.

(c)  We also further extended the software’s functionality in relation to Bid Analysis.

ez2view v9.8.* from October 2023

In October 2023 we released v9.8 in conjunction with two significant market changes relevant to our clients:

(a)  The introduction of 2 x FFR FCAS markets (as noted on WattClarity the Friday beforehand – and reviewed a number of time since); and

(b)  he extension of the MT PASA DUID Availability data sets for fully Scheduled units (as noted on Monday 9th Oct 2023).

In addition to the above, in permutations of v9.8.* released since that time we have also:

(a)  Continued to extend the functionality of alerting – with respect to Constraints, and also with respect to other DUID parameters.

(b)  We added more data sets into the ‘Trends Editor’ function within the software

(c)  Plus more.

Through 2023 we were also pleased to welcome a number of new clients onboard with licences to our ez2view software … and also to extend service to some clients who have been with us in using ez2view for 10 years or more.

There’s plenty of market changes coming up through 2024 and into the future to keep us busy with future updates.

 

(D4) NEMreview™

Our NEMreview v7 software continues to evolve (as a cut-down version of some of the trending functionality included in ez2view).

As was the case in 2022, however, such was our busyness that we were unable to invest the time to describe what we’ve done in any Release Notes here.

Through 2023 we also:

(a)  were pleased to welcome new NEMreview clients onboard; and
(b)  To extend service to some clients who have been with us in using NEMreview for 15 years or more (a few client name changes over that period!).

 

(D5) NEMwatch™

NEMwatch is our entry-level dashboard to the NEM what we first developed in 2000 as one of the earliest map-based dashboards to highlight operations in the NEM. For a walk down memory lane, we recorded how NEMwatch v1 looked here.

We continue to appreciate the opportunity to serve the ongoing client base who have been using NEMwatch for some time … plus some new clients in 2023 as well.

 

(D6) NEMwatch™ Widget(s)

Our brand ‘NEMwatch’ is used in a number of ways …

(a)  to a broad number of spectators of the NEM focused on the energy transition, it’s used to describe the RenewEconomy-sponsored NEMwatch widget, that we first introduced back in 2015.

(b)  to others, it’s the Energy Consumers Australia sponsored Map-based representation of electricity consumption across Australia.

(c)  we have had others speak with us about the possibility of additional ‘NEMwatch widgets‘, but such ideas as these are on the back-burner because we don’t have enough time….

During 2023 we appreciated the opportunity to continue serving via these widgets.

 

(D7) deSide®

Our deSide® software was first developed around 2002 to assist large energy users manage their spot exposure…

… this is one form of Demand Response that’s been possible in the NEM since the start of the NEM, and one we have been actively involved in helping to facilitate (as described in ‘Some highlights on our Demand Response journey (to 31 Dec 2018)’, and also noting this subsequent article about some of the barriers we’ve faced).

We continue to appreciate the opportunity to serve a number of large energy users (whose combined non-coincident peak consumption is into the thousands of megawatts) across all regions of the NEM. Some of these clients have been with us for 10 or 15 years.

Continuing from 2022, we’ve seen a number of these deSide® clients also take licences to ez2view as they seek to gain further insights into the emerging complexities of how price is being formed within the NEM dispatch process.

 

(D8) Other Initiatives

We continue to explore other software-based initiatives that we see could assist us in our Mission of ‘helping to make the complexity of the NEM more understandable’.

 

(E) WattClarity® Deeper Insights

A couple of years ago we started developing an extension to, and deepening of, the (freely-accessible) insights shared at www.WattClarity.com.au.

In conjunction with Greenview Strategic Consulting (GVSC), we began to produce a series of Analytical Reports and Statistical Digests that we gathered together under a ‘WattClarity Deeper Insights’ label.

This started with the release of the GRC2018 in May 2019.  Following that report we were inundated with compliments (here’s a small sample) which has given us an extra boost to continue the development of these resources (in some cases annually).

Through calendar 2023 we continued this process, as follows:

(E1) The GSD2022 (Generator Statistical Digest 2022)

In collaboration with Greenview Strategic Consulting, we released the GSD2022 on 31st January 2023.

Following from the release we were pleased to deliver to a number of clients (some who pick up each year’s release + also some new clients as well):

Option 1) Most clients access as a hard-copy printed document and electronic PDF;

Option 2) Some clients go a step further, and also access an added extra ‘Data Extract’.

This followed from the earlier GSD2021, GSD2020 and GSD2019 … stemming initially with the 330-page analytical component of the GRC2018.

(E2) The GenInsights Quarterly Updates series

Given the success of GenInsights21, we made the decision to launch ‘GenInsights Quarterly Updates’ from Q2 2022 onwards, with each containing an updates or, and extensions to, the analysis presented in the original publication.

We’ve now delivered 6 x sequential Quarterly Updates (and are soon to commence the 7th) including these four updates through 2023:

GenInsights Quarterly Update for 2022 Q4

This report was released on 14th February 2023 (the 3rd in the series), and delivered to clients.

Worth noting that, from that report, we shared more broadly:

(a)  firstly ‘Some revelations in GenInsights Q4 2022 about Self-Forecasting’ via WattClarity.

(b)  then how ‘Unavailability of coal units hits 24% across calendar 2022 ‘ via WattClarity.

(c)  and finally ‘Some revelations in GenInsights Q4 2022 about Aggregate Raw Off-Target for Semi-Scheduled units’ via WattClarity.

GenInsights Quarterly Update for 2023 Q1

This report was released on 31st May 2023 (the 4th in the series), and delivered to clients.

From this report, we shared more broadly:

(a)  importantly, how ‘We’re not building enough replacement dispatchable capacity’ via WattClarity.

(b)  and about ‘Increasing curtailment of Wind and Solar across the NEM’ via WattClarity.

GenInsights Quarterly Update for 2023 Q2

This report was released on 24th August 2023 (the 5th in the series) and delivered to clients.

From this Q2 focused report, we shared:

(a)  outage statistics for a number of coal units in ‘Two pieces of information (about Eraring Power Station) from the Origin Energy 2023 AGM’ via WattClarity.

This report included an extension to the constraint analysis included for the first time in 2023 Q1.

GenInsights Quarterly Update for 2023 Q3

We wrapped up compilation of the 2023 Q3 report (the 6th in the series) at the end of November 2023 and delivered to clients following from that point.

From this Q3 focused report, we shared:

(a)  this ‘Case Study (part 1) of low % VRE NEM-wide on 3rd and 4th July 2023’ via WattClarity.

(b)  this ‘Case Study (part 1) of Aggregate Scheduled Target on Friday 8th September 2023’ via WattClarity.

(c)  we also shared (referencing this quarter) how ‘Rooftop Solar is crushing* the returns for Large-Scale VRE’ via WattClarity.

(d)  plus more, from this report …

It’s worth noting that this report included new focal points including:

(a)  NEM-wide percentage VRE over the focused quarter; and

(b)  Analysis of interventions through the focused quarter.

GenInsights Quarterly Update for 2023 Q4

Quarter 4 ended on 31st December 2023, but we won’t be wrapped on the number crunching, analysis and report writing until the middle of February 2024.

When this report is released, you’ll find details added here.

Please give us a call if you would like to know more about these GenInsights Quarterly Updates!

(E3) The GSD2023 (Generator Statistical Digest 2023)  … coming soon!

We’re also commenced the production of the GSD2023, with data to 31st December 2023.

It’s already proving a busy month of January, because we’re also aiming to release this just after Australia Day

… this will be a little ahead of the GenInsights Quarterly Update for 2023 Q4.

 

(F) External Investments

There’s a few things to report here:

(F1) Our investment in Overwatch Energy

Back at the end of 2019 we provided a first round of seed funding (with a number of other investors) to kick start the operations of Overwatch Energy Pty Ltd.

… we noted this in our ‘… some of the highlights of 2020 …’ article the following year.

Overwatch provides a distributed 24×7 operations room that plays a role in operating thousands of megawatts of Wind, Solar and Battery assets for their owners and/or operators

(a) We did this in order to establish another way in which we can play a role in serving new entrant operators of Wind Farms, Solar Farms and Batteries in the NEM.
(b) We mentioned that investment when we recapped ‘some of the highlights of 2020 for us … our 21st year of operations’.

Since that first investment:

(a)  we’ve been pleased to see the continued growth of scale of that business, as it’s fast become a trusted operator for a growing number of participants.
(b)  during 2023:

i.  Overwatch upgraded its company website – and
ii.  increased the frequency that it’s been posting useful information on its blog (and via LinkedIn).
iii.  all whilst its customer numbers, and scope of service, continue to grow.

Towards the end of 2023 we were pleased to receive our first dividend from Overwatch Energy … a sign of its growing success in the NEM.

(F2) Investment in a Second Startup

Heartened by the synergistic success of the above, we’ve kept an eye open for other investment and are close to securing a new investment in a second startup company.

More about that soon, hopefully…

 

(G) Onward into 2024!

So with the above wrapped up, it’s onwards into 2024.
We’ve appreciated the opportunity to serve thousands of people over the years across hundreds of different organisations (ranging from very large to very small), and we look forward to being able to continue into the future.
Don’t forget to subscribe to www.wattclarity.com.au for freely accessible insights gleaned from our energy market analysis and commentary.