Smart Grids

Smart Grid, Smart City initiative

The Australian Government has provided up to $100 million to the Smart Grid, Smart City initiative that will demonstrate an electricity system of the future—one that uses ICT to improve the efficiency of power production, delivery and use. The project will employ a mix of innovative technologies to demonstrate the potential of smart grids to manage peak electricity demand, identify and resolve faults on the grid, and help customers make informed choices about their energy use. The project, conducted in NSW’s Newcastle and the Hunter regions,  is currently being rolled out. The energy utility Ausgrid is leading the industry consortium, which  includes IBM Australia, GE Energy Australia, AGL Energy, Sydney Water, Hunter Water Australia, and Newcastle City Council.

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TOWARDS AUSTRALIAS ENERGY FUTURE

Below is an extract from the launching of Smart Grid Australia’s Vision Document  in Parliament on Tuesday November 27th 2012 :

Rising electricity prices have become a hot topic, and it is encouraging to see the more informed discussion that is now developing around the factors driving price increases. Aided by various Government reports, there is a growing understanding that un-restrained growth in peak demand will either necessitate further investment to upgrade grid capacity, or lead to a decline in the quality of electricity supply on which Australians rely. As noted by the Productivity Commission, 25% of a typical electricity bill relates to meeting demand peaks that occur just 40 hours a year!

I would draw a parallel with the transformation that broadband has achieved within the telecommunications industry. Introducing better network plumbing was a vital foundation for progress – but the real excitement lies in the way that innovative new applications and the digital economy is transforming the way we live, work and play. In a similar way, we need to modernise grid infrastructure in order to unlock the full potential of an exciting energy future that features enhanced consumer choice, smart appliances, electric vehicles and user-managed generation, storage and consumption.

New challenges that has to be addressed are:

Utilities are facing radical change with the shift towards renewable energy sources – in particular, rooftop solar arrays. These are changing the energy flows from the traditional “radial” pattern to a dynamic mesh of distribution resources that can come and go in a matter of seconds.

The looming uptake of electric vehicles. A home with an electric vehicle can draw twice the electricity that has traditionally been budgeted when planning and constructing the grid. Without intelligent charging, today’s peaks could soon become a whole lot worse!

Some ways iin which smart grids will help are to:

  • Moderate peak demands with pricing by time-of-use.
  • Dynamically balance supply and demand in real time.

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NBN statement from SGA – 10 Oct 2011

There has been some public comment about the cost savings of smart metering utilising NBN.  SGA’s position is that we believe there are synergies between NBN and smart grid technologies and that this needs to be explored along the lines being undertaken in the Smart Grid, Smart City demonstration.

Accordingly, SGA’s Intelligent Network Working group is looking at these synergies with NBNCo.  SGA is working with NBNCo to examine any potential costs and benefits of bringing NBN and smart grid technologies together.  This work is focused on a national approach.

One of the challenges of taking advantage of the synergies is the different timeframes for the rollout of these technologies.

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SGA welcomes NBN developments

Smart Grid Australia welcomes the significant progress that has been made with the signing of the definite agreement between Telstra and the Government. With the NBN now firmly moving forwards the opportunities for smart grids are firming up. Smart Grid Australia and NBN Co have a work group relationship where such issues can be discussed. The NBN legislation also enables NBN to work directly with the electricity companies to interconnect their networks. Just like existing carriers arrangements, electricity companies will have to become carriers if they offer communications services to their customers.

Increasingly the focus of the industry is moving towards ‘The Internet of Things’ and smart grids are seen as one of the largest elements of this new development. Increasingly names such as ‘Super Grids’ and Super Intergrid’ are popping up in industry papers. The development of IPv6 is also getting the attention of the electricity industry as this IP address system would allow them to make every sensor in the network and every power point in the home an IP addressable element of the grid.

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