Energy basics: A guide to energy jargon

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Published July 19th, 2017 by Kirsty Waterford

energy jargonConfused about all the energy jargon floating around? Reposit Power is here to help – with our energy glossary, we’ll explain all those confusing terms.

Some Important Electricity Terms

Kilowatt (kW) – A measure of power. 1 KW = 1,000 watts.

Kilowatt-Hour (kWh) – A measure of power use over a period of time – also referred to as energy. How many kilowatts of electricity is used over one hour. For example your household consumed 3kW of electricity over one hour = 3kWh.

Energy – power sourced from physical or chemical resources, to provide light and heat or to work machines. There are two types of energy – stored (potential) energy and working (kinetic) energy.

Power – Power is the rate at which energy is generated or used.

Renewable Energy – Energy obtained from natural resources, which can be constantly refilled. For example, wind, solar and hydro.

Household Energy Consumption – The amount of electricity your household uses.

Circuit – An electric circuit is a path in which electrons from a voltage or current source flow. Most homes have many circuits. Some circuits, supplying electricity to many of your appliances.

Load – An electric load is anything in a circuit that consumes energy as opposed to providing energy.  You will often hear people refer to your household load – this means your total electricity usage.

energy jargon

The Grid

Grid – also known as the electricity grid, is the poles and wires that distribute electricity to your house.

NEM – The National Electricity Market (NEM) – is the Australian wholesale electricity market. The market makes sure that we are generating and supplying enough energy to Australian homes. Western Australia and the Northern Territory are not connected to the NEM, because of the distance between networks. Until recently there was almost no storage in the grid, so the electricity market works as a “pool”, or spot market, where power supply and demand is matched instantaneously in real time through a centrally coordinated dispatch process. Click here for more information.

Electricity Generator – Electricity generators produce electricity. Electricity is produced by power stations that use either fossil fuels (coal or gas) or renewable energy sources (wind farms, solar or hydro plants).

Electricity Distributor – Electricity distributors own the power lines, poles and wires that carry electricity to your house. They also read your electricity meter. For example: in New South Wales there are three distributors; Ausgrid, Endeavour Energy and Essential Energy.

Electricity Retailer – Electricity retailers are companies that you pay to provide you with electricity.

Energy Trading

GridCredits – GridCredits are earned when you sell your stored energy to the NEM when it’s needed to assist shortfalls in the electricity grid. GridCredits are in addition to solar feed-in-tariffs (FIT). GridCredits earned can be used as credit towards your power bill or paid out if they are in excess.

GridCredits Event– A GridCredits event happens when wholesale electricity market prices are high. Your stored energy is bought by an electricity retailer or distributor and used to meet shortfalls in the grid.

Solar and battery terms

Solar PV panels – Solar PV panels, are installed on household or business roofs and generate electricity from sunlight that can be used onsite, stored in a solar battery, or sent back to the grid.

Solar Generation – Solar generation is the energy produced from solar PV panels.

Inverter – Converts the electricity generated by a solar PV panels from a DC current to an AC current. This is so it can be used by normal household appliances.

Solar Battery – Solar batteries are used to store solar energy produced from your solar panels for later use or for selling to the grid.

Dispatched – When the stored energy in your battery is sent to the electricity grid. This happens during a GridCredits event.

Discharge – The process of withdrawing energy from a solar battery. For example, your battery is discharging electricity to cover your household load or when selling back to the grid.

Charge – The process of adding energy to a solar battery. Your battery can charge from solar generation or from the grid.

Storage – When excess electricity is produced by solar panels it can be kept for future use.

State of charge – State of charge indicates how full a solar battery is. For example: your solar battery might have a 40 per cent state of charge, meaning it is 40 per cent full.

Pre-charging – Pre-charging is when your solar battery tops up from the grid during off-peak energy times. For example: your battery might pre-charge 2kWh at 4:30am to cover your morning peak electricity needs. For more information read ‘Reposit predictions and pre-charing’. 

Predictions – Predictions refer to an estimate of future energy use of generation. For example: Reposit will predict how much solar your system will generate and how much energy you will use. For more information read ‘Reposit predictions and pre-charing’.  

Electricity Meter

Electricity Meter: An electricity meter is a device installed at your house to allow electricity distributors and retailers to find out how much electricity you have used. It can’t measure when electricity is produced or when you export power to the grid.

Traditional Meter: Also known as a spinning disc or basic meter, it is an electricity meter that requires a manual reading of how much energy your household has consumed.

Interval Meter: An interval meter is an electricity meter that records how much energy you use in 30-minute intervals and is manually read. The main benefit of having an interval meter is that you can access different usage rates during the day such as a time-of-use (TOU) tariff.

Smart (Digital) Meter: A smart meter is an electricity meter that records your electricity usage every 30 minutes and can be read remotely (no-one needs to visit your house to read the meter). It provides more detailed information about when and how you use electricity.

NMI: National Meter Identifier, sometimes referred to as ‘nimmy’, is an 11-digit number allocated to an electricity meter.

Energy Tariffs

Tariff – Tariff is the pricing structure your energy retailer charges for providing energy.  There are a variety of different tariff types. Read more 

Flat Tariff – Flat tariff also known as a flat rate, single rate, standard rate, anytime rate or peak rate, is a fixed price tariff. This means that you pay the same rate for your energy no matter what time you use energy.

Block Tariff – These are like flat tariffs, but may offer slightly cheaper energy after the first ‘block’ of electricity use. For example you pay 25c for the first 1000kWh then 23c for all kWh used after the initial 1000kWh in a month period.

TOU Tariff – Time-of-Use (TOU) tariffs are variable electricity rates. This means that different energy prices are set throughout the day. Often, they are cheaper at night and more expensive in the mornings and afternoons.

Solar Feed in Tariff – a solar feed-in-tariff (FIT) is the amount your electricity retailer pays you for electricity fed back into the electricity grid generated from your rooftop solar panel system.

Controlled load tariff – Controlled load tariff also known as dedicated circuit consumption, are only applied to certain appliances such as:

  • slab or underfloor heating, and/or
  • electric hot water systems.

These controlled loads supply electricity to a dedicated circuit, in addition to your household load circuit.

Supply charge: Supply charge also known as daily charge, is a fee that you have to pay to have electricity delivered to your home. It covers the cost of the electricity gird infrastructure such as the poles and wires and is priced at a per day rate.

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