Carbon Conservation & Energy Efficiency


Bruce Rowse & Team

Posts Tagged ‘smart meters’

What Smart Grids will Australia get?

Wednesday, October 21st, 2009

After a $100 million smart grid trial in July this year, the Australian Government released the Australia smart grid guideline on the 30th September.

“With this investment, Australia will showcase the world’s best practice when it comes to investing in smart grid technologies, helping industry get on with the job of rolling out these technologies and supporting clean energy jobs,” Mr. Garrett said.

The potential benefits of a full smart grid implementation are dramatic. Some studies have suggested that savings of between 10% and 25% in electricity demand are achievable.

In contrast, the USA Department of Energy delayed to reveal the smart grid standards last month. “Basically because the development of smart grids is a larger task than the electricity utilities can handle. There is also a lack of understanding and willingness by them to investigate how to best form partnerships with the rest of the industry.” Paul Budde posted.

This has not slowed some big names to rush into the market including Microsoft, Google, IBM, Cisco and AT&T, who are all eager to rock and roll.

My concern is the communication ability of smart grid and smart meters. At present, the meters only store 30 minute intervals of data and transmit the data bi-monthly or quarterly. If Australia has to replace all the electricity meters again after 5 years, who would pay for it?

What smart grids will Australia get? We will just have to wait and see!

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Appliances for the smart grid

Wednesday, July 15th, 2009

General Electric is developing “smart” appliances that can integrate with “smart meters” and thus potentially schedule loads in a way that reduces maximum demand.

With time of use pricing in place, the GE system will use pricing information to schedule loads real time. So for example if a washing machine was running it might switch it off if the price of electricity increased, then switch it back on again when the price dropped.

GE have a dedicated website looking at the smart grid as part of its “eco-imagination” drive. If you have the patience for the flash animation to download its a superficial visual view of the smart grid and smart meters, but with little detail of the technology.

Otherwise Click here for a profile on the technology by Martin LeMonica at CNET 

How plummeting PV prices will greatly change the electricity distribution network

Tuesday, July 14th, 2009

I attended a workshop today in Melbourne run by iGrid, a consortium of universities and the CSIRO preparing a model of the intelligent energy grid of the future.

Its been identified that peak demand, which is rising faster than electricity consumption, is one of the most critical issues that a distributed generation network can address.

Dr. Muriel Watt, Chair of the Australian Photovoltaic Association and Project Manager with IT Power gave a presentation about the future pricing of PV, with  similar themes touched on by Michael Williamson from Sustainability Victoria.

Solar PV prices have historically decreased by roughly 20% for every doubling of global production. At current growth trends this means that the cost of PV generated electricity in Australia is likely to reach grid parity within the next five to ten years. “Grid parity” meaning that the cost of generating electricity from a PV system will be equal to the cost of buying electricity off the grid. This assumes some government support.

The $8,000 government rebate for a 1kW system has resulted in around 100,000 Australian households now having PV systems. As prices continue to lower it will become economic for business to also install PV.

As prices approach grid parity and take up of PV systems grows strongly we should see a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. Most of these systems will be grid connect. Along with the uptake of other technologies, such as small scale co-generation, the electrical distribution grid will be transformed from one that provides for a one way flow of energy to one in which two way flows are experienced.

This in itself will generate other challenges, such as the need for energy storage in the grid. Several presenters discussed electric cars as a storage solution. Most cars are in use for less than two hours a day, and the rest of the day, if the appropriate infrastructure exists, could provide storage capacity to the electrical network.

There will need to be significant investment into the electricity distribution network to make it smart. Regulatory changes will be needed to facilitate this.

The upcoming “smart meter” rollout in Victoria, set to start over the next few months, is just one step in this direction. The distribution network itself needs to get smarter (so for example voltages can be adjusted), and the information collected by the smart meters should be made available to customers to result in a more effective demand side response, particularly if time of use pricing is introduced. There is opportunity for innovative new products to use this data to shift loads and influence consumer behaviour.