SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium

The Big Picture

SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium in New South Wales, Australia, is one of the largest aquariums in the world. Home to over 13,000 marine animals from 700 different species, the building consists of 14 themed zones and invites guests to walk ‘underwater’ through 100 meters of glass viewing tunnels. SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium is widely regarded as a must-see attraction when visiting Sydney.

In 2011, the Sydney Aquarium was purchased by Merlin Entertainments Group, based in the United Kingdom. Following this acquisition, Merlin renamed the Aquarium to include its SEA LIFE brand and invested over $10 million on refurbishments, including the additions of themes, music, and touch-screens. As part of this major overhaul, SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium also adopted more energy-efficient practices, such as adopting more energy-saving LED lighting.

SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium enrolled in demand response (DR) with EnerNOC in 2012. The EnerNOC Demand Response - TransGrid Sydney Metro Program helps manage grid congestion and prevent blackouts throughout the TransGrid service territory by paying large energy users to reduce consumption during times of peak demand. Commercial and industrial organisations receive access to EnerNOC’s real-time energy monitoring software, which enables users to improve operations through better energy management and drive down operational expenses.

Informed Energy Use Can Reduce Costs

SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium’s participation in the EnerNOC DR program was managed by Operations Manager, Liam Hill. When Hill first learned of the demand response program, the initiative was appealing for its direct monetary incentive and the benefit of supporting grid stability in the Sydney area, but he was also interested in acquiring visibility into operations’ energy use that EnerNOC’s energy intelligence software (EIS) offered. “Rising energy costs are becoming an increasing concern for us, and our operations team is doing everything we can to minimise costs and reduce our environmental impact,” says Hill. “EnerNOC provides us with an opportunity to understand our energy consumption in five-minute intervals so we get the granularity we need. In the past, we’ve only just relied on our energy bills, which don’t provide enough information for us to be more proactive.”

With EnerNOC, SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium is able to see their electricity load in real-time and learn how it fluctuates throughout the day. This helps Hill work against benchmarks for energy reductions where the opportunity is available. As a result, the operations team has been able to drop 200kW off peak usage from both the SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium and WILD LIFE Sydney sites, which translates into significant savings when electricity rates are at its highest. With EnerNOC’s reporting capabilities, Hill intends to analyse recorded energy usage data over specific periods for opportunities to adopt more permanent changes in efficiency. “This added insight also prompts us to be more innovative with how we use energy; for example, we might think about using more natural light instead of LED to save on costs,” says Hill.

The Results

Throughout the five-month period that SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium was enrolled in the program, no dispatches were called but the organisation still received its payments simply for being on standby, ready to respond in the event reductions were needed. During that time, EnerNOC did conduct a test dispatch to ensure that equipment was in order and reduction targets could be met. SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium received advanced notification prior to the test, organised through a phone call, e-mail, or text message to designated staff, and was able to easily reduce electricity consumption at the site during the simulated dispatch. “Our curtailment methods don’t take up too much time to roll into action,” says Hill. “The Oceanarium has a building management system (BMS) while other areas are manually operated, and with different staff aware, the reductions can be implemented across different sections quickly.”

The Benefits

In addition to visibility into its energy usage and monthly payments, Hill notes that the DR program is also a great fit with SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium’s other conservation efforts, and the organisation is keen to share information on their participation with guests. “We’ve discussed arranging a ‘Conservation Corner’ where SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium will provide information on how visitors can protect the environment, such as through recycling and using resources more efficiently,” says Hill. “In this section, we may also look to highlight how our organisation helps the grid through demand response.”

SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium will also be leveraging recorded data on their electricity consumption to identify other areas for increased efficiencies. “The best thing about the program is the EnerNOC software and the ability to view your energy usage to make informed decisions. We can now control how much we’re using, instead of just being told how much we’ve used when the electricity bill arrives.” When discussing how the program benefits businesses, Hill says, “Do it. It will make you think more about your business, how you use energy, and what you can do to make improvements. This is one aspect of it. Another, is making sure that you highlight to staff members how much energy is being used, and ensuring they do their part to minimise consumption wherever possible.”

The Future

SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium and WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo are just one of the many innovative organisations that benefit from EnerNOC’s comprehensive energy management applications.

To find out more, call 03 8643 5900 or visit

Fast Facts

Industry: Entertainment
Location: Sydney, NSW, Australia
Program:​ EnerNOC Demand Response – TransGrid Sydney Metro
DR Strategy:​ Curtailment
Primary Curtailment Strategy: Temporary adjustments to cooling systems and lighting
Program Payments:​ Approximately $3,000