Australia has a habit of sparking innovation within its borders, only to see the talent behind it disappear overseas; then leaving us to play catch-up when the technology goes to market.
However, according to a report from Companies And Markets, Australia is now considered to be one of the world leaders in a technology to play a critical role in addressing how the world utilises energy in the future – smart grid development.
Smart Grid Australia last year received AU$100 million from the Federal Government for a National Energy Efficiency Initiative to develop a smart-grid energy network. The demonstration project combines intelligent grid technology with residential smart meters to enable greater energy efficiency and better integration of renewable energy sources, such as solar power and wind energy.
Companies And Markets states the most interesting aspect of the Australian smart grid demonstration project is that it is linked to the National Broadband Network (NBN) which it says clearly shows the trans-sector thinking the Australian government has embarked upon.
The USA Government has also dished out major funding for smart grids, awarding over USD$3.4 billion of matching grants for the development of smart grids. The funding will underpin more than $8 billion worth of intelligent energy technology projects and will provide a significant stimulus to growth of this sector.
No doubt, many other countries will be monitoring Australia and the USA’s progress in smart grid technology closely. Cities that hold more than one million people have increased from around 20 to 450 in the last century and this has created challenges for electricity infrastructure, with issues such as line loss seeing a great deal of electricity being lost "in transit" between power generation facilities and the end consumer or simply being wasted through the need to maintain spare capacity that is often never used.
An interesting piece of trivia from the report: According to New Zealand’s Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA), there is enough spare capacity in the national grid during off-peak times to allow recharging of all New Zealand’s cars and other light vehicles if these were replaced by electric vehicles.