Cortexo and OpenADR deliver demand flexibility to New Zealand

Earlier this month we had the pleasure of attending Power+Utilites in Melbourne. It was a great opportunity to learn more about energy efficiency efforts in Australia and to educate attendees on the importance of the OpenADR protocol. Rolf Bienert presented a Knowledge Hub session on ‘CER flexibility with the customer in charge – The OpenADR Approach.' 

Terry Paddy, Managing Director from member company Cortexo was also there to highlight the New Zealand FlexTalk project that used OpenADR to dispatch flexibility. Here Terry shares more about his company and his thoughts on the impact the OpenADR standard in this region.

Briefly tell us who you are, what you do, and the regions you operate in?

Cortexo is a software development and energy solutions company based in New Zealand. For the past 20 years, we have specialized in remote control and monitoring systems. Our energy control platform has managed biogas plants, hydro generation sites, and manufacturing businesses. We initially ventured into the distributed electricity sector through our work with micro-combined heat and power plants (microCHP), leading to a focus on energy, electricity meter data, and demand management. Our significant involvement with the OpenADR project began around 2017, culminating in the development of VTN and VEN products that were certified by the OpenADR Alliance in early 2024.

Can you summarize the key benefits of your OpenADR-certified devices?

Our certified OpenADR solutions offer several key benefits, primarily because they operate as cloud services. This facilitates easier integration of client resources and the management of connections to multiple users of demand flexibility. In New Zealand, OpenADR has enabled multiple distribution utilities to access flexibility resources from national suppliers of EV charging and battery/solar VPPs. This is achieved by creating multiple connections to various distributor VTNs through a single (virtual) VEN at the national control centre of the flexibility supplier, making demand flexibility integration consistent and scalable.

Our FlexSplice Hub (VTN) features both API and GUI connections, enabling easy creation and management of events and allowing the development of specific programs for distribution utility needs. The FlexSplice Edge (VEN) supports multiple software VENs communicating with specific distribution and transmission utility VTNs via a single API connection.

How are your solutions being implemented in the market today?

The adoption of OpenADR in New Zealand is still in its early stages. Historically, distribution utilities managed stress or constraints using simple demand management signals like ‘ripple control.’ Our national grid operator, Transpower (an OpenADR Alliance member) has used a VTN to signal transmission grid events during several initial trials, which have now evolved into operational services.

Aiming for a common and more flexible demand communication mechanism, our standards regulator and utilities have trialed OpenADR due to its open, global standard and compatibility through certification. Over the past 18 months, New Zealand has used OpenADR in seven trial programs to dispatch demand flexibility. Cortexo provided the VEN software for all flexibility suppliers and was one of three VTNs for the distribution utilities.

Any key results from customers that you can share?

During the trial, we gained valuable insights, which will be detailed in the end-of-trial report available here    The main result was that OpenADR met all the required use cases defined in the project, and implementation was straightforward and not technically difficult.

What is the biggest industry challenge for the Australian/New Zealand market, and how can OpenADR help address these challenges?

Australia and New Zealand have distinct approaches to integrating DER (distributed energy resources) into their energy systems. Due to high solar penetration, Australia faces immediate challenges with supply security and network resilience, leading to a control-based approach using dynamic operating envelopes implemented through the IEEE2030.5 standard with a specific CSIP-Australia variant. Once they have dealt with system integrity, they may turn to providing a flexibility market, and OpenADR has a significant part to play there. Conversely, New Zealand has an opportunity to manage proactively its distribution networks by testing a 'flexibility' market. Here, owners of flexibility resources (generation/battery/load, including EVs) can offer their resources to transmission, distribution, or wholesale markets. A flexibility supplier (aggregator) would coordinate these resources, responding to utility requests and optimizing resource use for the owner’s benefit. OpenADR is ideal for linking the flexibility supplier and utility, a concept proven in our recent trials.

Why did you join the OpenADR Alliance, and how is membership beneficial to your organization?

We joined the OpenADR Alliance because we recognized the value of the standard as more of an "inform and motivate" protocol rather than a control protocol. In the future flexibility market, there will be situations where end consumers need to react as instructed, such as during a Grid Emergency signal or under contractual obligations. However, we believe that consumers should have control over their flexible assets and be well rewarded for their use. These assets, invested in by consumers, should be used for the common good if appropriately incentivized. Thus, they are less likely to want their assets controlled externally but would prefer to be informed and motivated to offer their resources to the market. OpenADR perfectly suits this use case.

For more information on Cortexo please visit

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