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Overview and Evaluation of the Smart Grid

The Smart Grid, Smart City Program was arguably one of the widest-ranging technology assessments of smart grid products in the world. It saw: – The deployment and testing of several smart ‘in-grid’ and ‘customer-focussed’ technology groupings across the Ausgrid network and EnergyAustralia retail business in New South Wales – Examined the impacts and benefits of additional distributed generation and distributed storage solutions – Involved approximately 17,000 electricity customers in consumer-focussed trials examining how residential customers could contribute to peak demand management through behavioural changes The Smart Grid, Smart City Program focused on residential customers, as they represent the largest user group in Australia, and generally have more discretion over when and how much energy they use. Little was known before the Smart Grid, Smart City trials about how customers perceived, or how they might respond to, the opportunities that smart grid technologies offer. Most residential electricity customers in Australia are currently provided with limited information and very few incentives and tools to manage their domestic electricity use. A quarterly electricity bill is the main source of customer feedback, and this only shows the total amount of energy used during the previous three months, limiting the opportunities to systematically modify behaviour in order to save electricity and money. Based on the trials undertaken, this final Smart Grid, Smart City report, Shaping Australia’s Energy Future: National Cost Benefit Assessment found the potential for a net economic benefit of up to $28 billion ($2014) over the next 20 years from the deployment of smart grid technologies in Australia. This report demonstrates that there are four key aspects to realising these benefits and improving consumer pricing outcomes: – Technological development and deployment of enabling (smart grid) technologies – The introduction of cost reflective electricity pricing including dynamic tariffs – Consumer behaviour change with respect to electricity consumption (to better manage any future growth in peak demand) – Energy market reform4 (many aspects of which are already underway) Realising the potential benefits requires an integrated solution – if any one aspect is not implemented, then the extent of net national economic benefits available will be reduced. A large proportion of the net benefits identified can be derived from the economic deployment of a number of in-grid technologies which improve operational efficiency, reduce capital investment (through better managing peak demand) and deliver improved reliability for consumers at a lower cost. There are vast differences across Australia’s electricity grid, from highly populated suburban areas to sparsely populated rural areas, and different smart grid technologies are better suited in different circumstances. For those Australians living in suburban areas, there are significant potential benefits from certain in-grid technologies. Likewise, for less densely populated rural networks, there are alternative in-grid technologies which can assist in improving the reliability and cost of managing the grid.

Smart grid can simply be defined as the deployment of Information technology and also communication technology with the aim of improving the way electricity is generated, transported, distributed and stored. Across Australia, the distribution and the retail value chain elements primarily makes up the smart grid system. However, the impact also cut across how electricity is generated and transmitted. In this report, the smart grid smart city program which was funded by the Australian Government will be examined. The smart grid study focused primarily on residential distribution network and also with the introduction of a data centre for information processing. Smart grid technology find application in several purposes which can be grouped into customer side application, key enabling application, grid-side application, renewables, distributed energy and electric vehicles, data collection, processing and back-office. Several logical layers can also be used to represent each of the applications which could be traditional power systems equipment, communications network, computing capability, and also smart grid application layer. The Smart Grid Smart City (SGSC) program is one of the largest smart grid projects in the world. It was announced in 2009 by the Australian government with the aim of implementing smart grid technology at a large scale in line with the National Energy Efficiency Initiative (NEEI). It happen to be the first large scale smart grid project in Australia which was executed by Ausgrid and its partners. The project was aimed at showcasing the importance of the deployment of smart grid technology in commercial scale, building both public and corporate awareness of the economic and environmental benefits of smart grids, gathering an elaborate data with the aim of informing wider industry implementation of the various applications of smart grid across Australia, and also to investigate the interaction with other existing infrastructure. So many trials were examined in the program which includes the deployment of smart meter infrastructure, distributed generation and distributed storage, and also the utilisation of electric vehicles in the Australia’s electricity distribution network. So many trials were deployed in the program. Part of the trials that is of interest to me is the deployment of the smart meter infrastructure. This trial entails the installation of smart meter at various residential buildings. The various components that make up the smart meter infrastructure are the communication technologies for information transfer to and from the smart meter’s communication unit, the meter management system, home-office operational systems. (Energy Australia, Sydney Water and other partners) and also the customer acquisition application. With the deployment of smart meter, data for electricity usage, storage and delivery were obtained for participating household. Another fascinating part of the Smart Grid Smart City program is the distributed generation and distributed storage work stream which was initiated with the aim of providing critical data and information to help understand the implication of greater penetration of the combination of distributed storage and generation in conjunction with other smart grid technologies. In addition to the aforementioned, the electric vehicles project is also a part of the Smart Grid Smart City program I find interesting and it was aimed at understanding the potential impact of the utilisation of electric vehicles in Australia’s electricity distribution network.

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