Ergon Energy Chief Executive Ian McLeod (right) joins Energy Consumers Australia CEO Rosemary Sinclair (centre) and CSIRO Energy Flagship Director Peter Mayfield on the Electricity Transformation Leaders Panel discussion at the launch in Brisbane on Wednesday 15 July, 2015.

The Energy Networks Associationand CSIRO have recently launched an Australian first partnership between the national science agency and electricity networks.

The new partnership will deliver an Electricity Network Transformation Roadmap.

The Roadmap will set out a pathway for the transformation of the electricity network industry over the next decade, supporting better customer outcomes as the sector accommodates rapid adoption of new technologies.

Building on the CSIRO’s Future Grid Forum in 2013, the roadmap development process will involve collaboration across the energy supply chain, including consumer representatives, service and technology providers, policy makers, regulators, and academia.

The Roadmap framework involves five Domains each including a number of Work Packages:

  1. Customer Oriented Networks, assessing Transformation Drivers, the reorientation of network services to customers and potential services of the future;
  2. Revenue and Regulatory Enablers, reviewing potential revenue & business models, along with regulatory frameworks & mechanisms;
  3. Pricing & Behavioural Enablers, addressing tariff reform and support for vulnerable consumers;
  4. Technological Enablers, supporting integration of distributed energy resources; network asset utilisation; grid-side technologies & capabilities; and
  5. Next Generation Platform, examining new models for market operation and automation.

Minister for Industry and Science, Ian Macfarlane is pleased with the new partnership.

“The electricity network industry is looking to science to help solve the problems of the future. By mapping the ways in which Australian homes and businesses are likely to use power in the future, as well as improvements in the way power is delivered through the network, Australia’s electricity sector will be more flexible and more responsive to consumer needs,” Mr Macfarlane said.

“Australia’s electricity system is rapidly changing. We once relied on a highly centralised system to deliver electricity to our homes and businesses and underpin our economic growth.  We are now seeing a broad range of energy generation, delivery and consumption behaviours, meaning one size no longer fits all.

“Importantly, this change is consumer-driven, therefore the electricity industry needs to respond in a way that will deliver a product that electricity users want. Our world class science agencies can help with the transition.

“The Roadmap project will use different scenarios to examine the impacts of possible changes, such as the make-up of Australia’s electricity mix as well as the impact of technologies such as smart meters and batteries.

“It will continue the valuable work done by the CSIRO’s Future Grid Forum, which was an important first step in getting stakeholders ranging from industry, to the community, regulators and Governments in the same room to talk about market changes, particularly the needs of increasingly savvy households and businesses who want to take control of their energy bills.

“The rapid uptake of air conditioners as well as the wide-spread adoption of photovoltaic (PV) rooftop solar are two examples of how Australia’s electricity needs are evolving. More than three quarters of Australian households have air conditioners and about 1.4 million houses have PV systems installed.

“Forecasts show that by 2035, 35 per cent of houses with solar power will also have battery storage so instead of relying heavily on grid-supplied power as ‘back-up’ they will have more of an ability to control the time of day they use self-generated power.

“Electricity networks will have to keep pace with these changes in the way Australians use electricity.  It’s important that we model the future environment to allow industry to respond appropriately, and so we can implement policies that support innovation and maintain consumer confidence.

“The Future Grid Forum, and the new Roadmap project will inform COAG’s Energy Council’s examination of options to reduce uncertainty in the wholesale market, increase energy productivity and ensure consumers get the maximum benefits from technological change.”

Ergon Energy has welcomed the opportunity to be involved in the development of the roadmap.

Ergon Energy Chief Executive, Ian McLeod said the company had already embarked on the transformation journey and was well positioned to work with other utilities to add value to this initiative.

“Firstly, I would like to applaud the ENA and CSIRO for this initiative and opportunity,” said Mr McLeod.

“Ergon Energy has for a number of years now been proactively transforming itself and developing strategies to empower and enable new and emerging technologies on the network. This has included customer engagement, our work with tariff reform, our successful Energy Sense Communities program, and work toward developing standards for the adoption of technologies such as Solar PVs, battery storage and Electric Vehicles.

“We’re looking forward to contributing to this, sharing what we have learned in the areas of power flow, network augmentation and changing electricity demand, as well as learning more from being a partner in this national partnership.”

Energy Networks Association CEO, John Bradley said Australian electricity networks including Ergon Energy wanted to ensure Australia’s electricity system is “future ready and oriented towards empowered customers”.

“Australia has a clear window of opportunity to reshape our electricity system to enable customer-driven take up of new services, like renewable and low-emission generation, home automation, battery storage, and electric vehicles,” Mr Bradley said.

 

Michelle is a freelance journalist and editor who, as well as covering all the latest and breaking industry news, is a gun proofreader and editor who never misses a trick.

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