by Georgina Swan

EnergyAustralia wins $100m smart grid project

Jun 08, 2010
Development Approaches

EnergyAustralia has won its bid for the Smart Grid, Smart Cities project, a $100 million commercial-scale grid that will be implemented across five cities in Sydney and the Hunter region.

EnergyAustralia will lead a consortium as the preferred applicant in the federally-funded project. The project comes under the mantle of the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, in consultation with the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy and the Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism. The trial will showcase electricity network technology, including self-healing when faults and interruptions occur and greater customer control.

“Building a smart grid on such a large scale will keep Australia at the forefront of energy technology,” EnergyAustralia managing director, George Maltabarow, said in a statement.

“New generation smart meters will be rolled out to 50,000 homes at five sites in Newcastle, Scone, the Sydney CBD, Ku-ring-gai and Newington. Around 15,000 households will become ‘smart homes’ to trial a new breed of in-house displays and websites that track electricity and water use, costs and CO2 emissions,” he said.

EnergyAustralia will roll out 12,000 smart sensors across its electricity network will be fast-tracked to allow earlier fault detection and repair. The plan includes the trial of new technology to help test the National Broadband Network rollout, according to Maltabarow.

The utility has been working with technology providers for some time to enable its infrastructure and take the provider into the future.

The proposal was submitted to the federal government by EnergyAustralia in partnership with local councils across the Hunter and Sydney, some of the world’s largest IT and smart grid multinationals, water and energy utilities and Australia’s top research institutions.

Quick Facts

  • The smart grid includes smart sensors, new back-end IT systems, smart meters and a communications network.
  • Smart grids provide instant information about the network to make it more efficient and help reduce interruptions, support more renewable energy and gives households greater control over their energy use.
  • EnergyAustralia has been building a Smart Grid program since 2006, rolling out 800 kilometres of new fibre optic cables, installing hundreds of communications switches and deploying carrier-grade Internet Protocol (IP) technology to connect more than 200 key substations and depots.
  • EnergyAustralia is rolling out 12,000 monitoring devices throughout its electricity distribution network. The data will allow EnergyAustralia to reduce outages through faster fault location and preventive maintenance and to work towards managing distributed energy sources such as solar and storage devices.
  • More than 4,000 smart meters with communications have been installed and about 200,000 with first generation smart meters have time-of-use billing.
  • The two-year trial will help 1000 households in Newington and Silverwater (NSW) reduce their utility bills and carbon impact. Households will see a minute-by-minute picture of their energy and water use, turn their appliances on and off remotely using iPhones and websites, and compare energy use through neighbourhood competitions.
  • A Smart Home is also being fitted out in Newington to test the latest energy and water efficient appliances and how renewable energy interacts with the grid. Real-life tenants will live in the home rent free for 12 months to test the technology and share their experiences.
  • A 4G wireless telecommunication network will allow two-way communication with up to 2 million devices on the electricity grid.
  • New smart equipment at zone substations and major transmission cables will be implemented to manage power equipment better automate the network.