The Australian Government’s Smart Grid, Smart City initiative, which is being delivered by a consortium led by Ausgrid, is a three-year, $100 million program that will demonstrate Australia's first fully-integrated smart grid. The program is about using new energy technology to give electricity networks and households across Australia more information and control over electricity use, costs and carbon emissions.
As part of the program, 60 households in Newcastle and Scone, New South Wales, will be fitted with their own mini-power station to test powering the network during peak times. The homes participating in Scone will also form Australia’s first micro-grid, which will power local households and help shield them from outages using battery storage and other energy sources connected to the grid.
According to Ausgrid, the program is being implemented on schedule. All the 4G wireless communications sites that will support the Smart Grid, Smart City project have been built or are currently in the process of being built. More than 200 smart sensors that will monitor the local power supply have also been installed. These will quickly help make the grid smarter and more reliable as they allow crews to pinpoint and fix faults quickly.
In addition, an agreement has been signed for the supply of battery storage units for grid technology trials in Newcastle and Scone.Article continues below…
Ausgrid energy efficiency expert Paul Myors said that households in Newcastle and Scone would be invited to take part in the trials, which would involve installing an energy storage unit on their property for two years.
“We’re testing whether energy storage technology can make the electricity supply more reliable and give customers greater control over their household energy use,” Mr Myors said.
“It will help us understand the technical impacts of adding battery storage to the grid and the opportunities to use those resources to power local areas during essential maintenance or outages.
“We will create a micro-grid in Scone, making part of the area self-sufficient during outage trials and any unplanned interruptions caused by storms or other events,” said Mr Myors.
Homes on the micro-grid can be powered independently of the electricity network using their battery storage and other energy generation to be added to the grid including wind and solar.
To help keep the public informed about the project, AusGrid is in the process of designing a new public information centre to be fitted out in Newcastle’s Honeysuckle precinct.
The centre will showcase new technologies including in-home displays, fuel cells and electric cars and allow both the community and industry to learn and interact with the future of energy and smart grids.
Visitors will be able to get advice on choosing the right appliances and how to use them efficiently, as well as pick up free energy and water saving devices and information.
The centre is scheduled to be completed in 2011.