Thursday, 24 December 2009

Smart grid news - Australia

• Australian Power company Western Power has chosen IBM as its partner for its SmartGrid - Advanced Meter Infrastructure pilot program.  IBM will build a roadmap for the design and implementation of an intelligent network using smart meters and a communications backbone for the pilot.  The idea is to develop a platform for a range of energy efficiency and demand management initiatives.

It will be part of the government sponsored Perth Solar City project.  Western Power will lead the $73.5m initiative in which residents will be offered free energy advisory services and price reductions on solar systems. One of the objectives of the program is to encourage behaviour change in energy consumption through energy assessments and education.

IBM has already begun work with Western Power to identify solution requirements, design network architecture, and develop implementation plans.

• Logica has published a report looking at the attitudes to, and progress of, smart grids in Australia, based on the result of an in-depth survey of 35 executives from the largest energy companies. 

The report identified three key areas of focus (which could probably be applied to any smart grid proposals anywhere):

- A new regulatory framework is seen as key to give some direction to energy generators, distributors and retailers, as well as providing some flexibility.

- Getting the right strategy in place is important - 25% of the industry reported that they have already developed their corporate smart grid strategy or were in the process of refining it. The rest are working on discreet projects that fit under a smart grid umbrella with plans to develop an overall strategy.

- Respondents saw investment as a crucial component in moving forward, but with some understandable reluctance to invest in solutions without knowing the challenges they address.  There was also concern that the benefits would be spread amongst generators, distributors, and retailers, so who makes the investment?

One interesting chart in the report shows the views on smart grid drivers now and in the longer term.  It confirms the view that cost issues and performance are generally the short term drivers, with quality of supply and changing consumer behaviour growing in significance in the longer term.

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