Ausgrid has implemented a new data management platform so that its smart grid network can more accurately track network utilization and performance. Around 2300 monitoring devices have already been installed, with another 12,000 set to be added over the coming months.
George Maltabarow, Ausgrid’s managing director, explains, “This technology will make the local electricity network smarter and more reliable, giving us a more detailed picture of how the network is performing. We will have more information than ever before about the demands on the local network, allowing us to better target preventative maintenance to avoid faults and outages in the first place. Ultimately, it will mean fewer and shorter outages for the homes and businesses we supply.”
The smart grid market has enjoyed steady growth in Australia, prompting the University of New South Wales (UNSW) to add an extra session of its recently established smart grid short course.
In addition, 250 selected households in the Newcastle area are being invited to participate in of the Australian Government’s Smart Grid, Smart City project. Ausgrid is contacting residents to see if they are interested in having a mini generator installed. Some homes are being offered gas fuel cells, while others will be asked to trial energy storage units.
Ausgrid’s energy efficiency expert, Paul Myors, says, “We need 65 homes to volunteer in total so we can see the benefits of households becoming mini power stations. Over the two-year trial we will test whether these technologies can help make the power supply more reliable, reduce peaks in energy demand and lower household electricity bills. During the first part of the trial, all power generated or stored by the units will be fed back to the electricity network to examine the technical impacts of adding these small generators to it. In the last stage of the trial residents taking part will be given the option of using the power for their own homes, which may help lower their electricity bills.”
Homes fitted with a Redflow energy storage unit will receive a $150 payment. Those fitted with a Bluegen gas fuel cell will receive free hot water produced by the gas fuel cells, plus a free instantaneous gas hot water system, which they can keep after the trial ends. The devices will be provided and installed free of charge, and Ausgrid will cover all operating costs during the grid trial.