Australia Plans Smart Electricity Grid to Reduce Energy Pollution and Carbon Pollution

CANBERRA, Australia, Oct. 1 (UPI) — Australia today announced a $100 million plan for the country’s first commercial-scale “smart” grid to deliver electricity.

The “Smart Grid, Smart City” initiative will be a cooperative effort between the Australian government and the energy and communications sectors. The program has the potential to reduce home energy bills, reduce carbon pollution and help tackle climate change, the government says.

Australia has surpassed the United States as the world’s biggest per capita producer of carbon emissions.

“From the power plant to the power point, smart grids enable a two-way flow of information between energy suppliers and consumers,” Environment Minister Peter Garrett said in a release. “Linking all these energy data points creates a web of information so that energy can be delivered where and when it is required. The potential economic benefits of creating an Internet for the energy industry are staggering.”

The announcement comes in conjunction with the completion of a two-month study commissioned by the government — “Smart Grid, Smart City: A New Direction for a New Energy Era” — on how smart grids can optimally work in Australia. A target date for the plan was not disclosed.

“With this $100 million investment, Australia will showcase the world’s best practice when it comes to investing in smart grid technologies, helping industry get on with the job of rolling out these technologies and supporting clean energy jobs,” Garrett said.

Smart grids interact with information technology and communications infrastructures using two-way digital communications to deliver electricity. They help energy suppliers to better manage peak loads, reduce the risk of blackouts during peak-use periods and improve the reliability of electricity supply. Renewable energies can also be incorporated into the grid.

Australia’s minister for resources and energy, Martin Ferguson, said the rollout of a smart grid — which uses two-way digital communications to deliver electricity — will provide Australia with more reliable energy delivery, allow consumers to sell power back into the grid and ideally will cut costs and greenhouse gas emissions.

According to Access Economics, if Australia were to invest $3.2 billion in smart grid technology over five years, electricity use would decrease by 4 percent and the country’s gross domestic product could increase by up to $16 billion over 10 years. The move could also create nearly 18,000 new jobs.

Australia has the potential to become a world leader in deploying smart grid technology, but the country will need to deal with any regulatory barriers, consider possible tax incentives as well as invest in research and development, Guido Bartels, IBM’s global energy and utilities general manager, said at a Melbourne energy conference in September.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

4 Responses to “Australia Plans Smart Electricity Grid to Reduce Energy Pollution and Carbon Pollution”
  1. David Eccles says:

    In this era of increasing demands on water and of concern over the CO2 costs of energy I feel that there is a great opportunity for power and water utilities to co-operate to their mutual benefit. Most power generators require considerable periods to attain operating temperatures, and then need more time to adjust to changes in demand. They and do not run at peak efficiency until these adjustments have been made. A water turbine is one of the fastest to bring on line and, once synchronised with the grid, can respond almost instantaneously to short-term changes in demand such as occur during intervals in the televising of important events. This makes pumped storage schemes such as Fitzroy Falls valuable components of the overall power supply.
    There is a strong movement for the greater use of renewable energy sources such as geothermal, solar, wind, wave and tidal energy which cannot be synchronised with demand and are only of real value if the power can be stored. With the exception of geothermal power, these cannot produce power all the time. If they are to meet a substantial part of the demand, their installed capacity must be much greater than the peak demand and there must be some method of storing this energy. One of the best would be to use pumped storage schemes with small storages below major dams as the lower reservoirs. Such schemes would maximise the value of the water as, until it was discharged for downstream use, it could be ‘leased’ to power companies.
    I believe that the HECS plant at Warragamba would provide an ideal demonstration of this principle. The necessary pipework already exists so that there would be no need for major engineering work on the dam. The turbines would need to be modified so that they could be reversed, but this would presumably be the responsibility of Pacific Power who could then rely on profitable use of the plant at any time, rather than being restricted to periods when the water is near FSL. SCA’s contribution would be the installation of a smaller storage below the main dam to act as a temporary reservoir for water released through the HECS. The use of off-peak power for the return flow would reduce the inefficiencies involved in balancing the output of thermal power stations to meet fluctuating demand. It would also help to solve the problem that of storage of energy from renewable sources This would enable the HECS to be used at any time without consumptive use of water and should provide a useful revenue stream. Without such a scheme the HECS could prove to be a white elephant if increased demands for water and reduced inflows keep the level below that at which the current system, with discharge of the water, can be used.
    A further benefit of using the HECS for pumped storage of energy is that It would also help to prevent the de-oxygenation of hypolimnetic water during seasonal stratification. Water in the lower storage would absorb oxygen while in contact with the air and, during spring and summer, would tend to warm. When the water is pumped back this oxygen and heat would be introduced into to the hypolimnion, reducing the effect of stratification.
    Such schemes could be introduced at many dams throughout the country, and might be co-ordinate with demands to maintain environmental flows, with energy captured from the water released into a lower storage, from which the environmental release could be made. This would help to allay the undesirable effect that release of water direct from the hypolimnion would have on downstream ecosystems.

  2. GridWatch says:

    Glad to see Australia on the smart grid screen. In the States, we have a smart grid city as well in Boulder, Colorado. Thanks for the information.

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