Custom cloud solution for future energy supply modelling

Custom cloud solution for future energy supply modelling
May 11, 2018 Chris Button

Electranet banner image web edit


eRSA services in use: Custom Cloud

The Client

ElectraNet is the principal Transmission Network Service Provider in South Australia and operates in the National Electricity Market. South Australia’s electricity transmission network is the backbone of the electricity supply system that transports power generated from local and interstate sources to metropolitan, regional and remote areas.

The Challenge

On Wednesday, 28 September 2016, a severe and wide-spread storm, which the South Australian Bureau of Meteorology described as a one-in-50 year event, damaged 22 transmission towers and brought down three of the four circuits that move power between Adelaide and the north of the State.

The weather event included destructive winds and tornados and contributed to a state-wide blackout across South Australia, also known as a black system event.

Although already underway, the blackout brought forward ElectraNet’s work on enhancing its energy market analysis capabilities

ElectraNet engaged eRSA to run energy market analysis that explored the development of the forecast $100 billion investment required over the next 20 years across the National Energy Market. The analysis needed to take into consideration electricity demand across the current and future electricity network infrastructure, state-based interconnectors, costs of renewable and non-renewable energy, and the stock market.

The Response

ElectraNet’s market analysis requirements had exceeded the computational capacity of their infrastructure, and with a significantly shortened timeframe to take on the project, they needed a solution immediately. The complexity of the project made it impossible for the analysis to be run on a commercial cloud system; they needed an intricate and customised solution which eRSA were able to quickly provide.

eRSA set up a proof of concept environment to determine the amount of resources required to run the production scale environment over an eight-month period. From this, we were able to identify that running the analysis required 108 cores, 500GB RAM and 50TB of storage, which is provided by 20 virtual machines (VMs) in a custom cloud solution.

The solution saw eRSA deploy a series of VMs, specialist network and security measures, essentially building a custom cloud platform large enough to run ElectraNet’s software, Energy Exemplar Plexos, effectively. The Plexos software is designed to utilise multi-thread processing in a cluster configuration and calls for significant compute performance. By providing a large scale platform, the Plexos software was able to take advantage of parallel processing, thus being able to run many large variable simulations concurrently and provide much faster computation and data handling. Without eRSA’s custom cloud solution, it would have been impossible for ElectraNet to process such large volumes of data efficiently, whilst being able to quickly compare results and try multiple formula variables.

The Impact

By engaging eRSA, ElectraNet had access to a vast amount of resources without having to build a dedicated environment specific to this project. This meant they avoided having to make a large investment in unfamiliar technological solutions that would require significant personnel upskilling and were able to continue with business as usual, leaving the fundamental technology know-how to eRSA.

Like more information about ElectraNet and their work? Visit

  • "The eRSA support is very personal and solution-focused and not just a brushing off 'it's-your-fault-check-your-code' kind of support which one sometimes gets from University tech supports. I very much appreciate the help."  
    Sven SchellenbergSchool of Science, RMIT University
  • On using an eResearch program to complete 3D modelling of architectural records: “We were able to build an interactive, photo image model of the [historical South Australian property Joseph Elliot’s cottage] home – transforming simple sketches and floor plans into an interactive 3D experience... what we have now is a computerised model that allows us to experience the Elliott house beyond just words on paper”.
    Associate Professor Christine Garnaut
  • “Having access to greater computer power helps us put in place a more realistic model in terms of the number of atoms you can have in the system and that improves the predictive power of the calculations.”
    Professor Andrea GersonMinerals and Materials Science & Technology
  • “Open source intelligence is about extracting information from blogs, news sites and social media platforms, any information that can be freely accessed online. There’s way too much information out there for an individual or group of people to comprehend, so we have created automated tools to allow our users to extract the data they need...access to the latest technology allow[s] us to continue to provide the best platforms to our end-users.”
    David BlockowData to Decisions CRC
  • “It would be impossible to do the type of research that we’re doing without them – it is a major factor in achieving our research outcomes.”  
    Associate Professor Con DoolanSchool of Mechanical Engineering, University of Adelaide
  • "eResearch capabilities ... ensure we can continue to use the latest methods available in our field. The hope is that through the use of these technologies, we will be able to achieve some research outcomes that may otherwise not have been possible.”  
    Professor Ina Bornkessel-SchlesewskyCognitive Neuroscience, UniSA

Our partners

University of South Australia logo
Adelaide uni logo
Flinders university logo