Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Smart grid could save Australia $28 billion over 20 years: report

Iain Morris
July 29, 2014
Australia could reportedly realize $28 billion in net economic benefits over the next 20 years from the deployment of smart grid technologies, according to the analysis of a smart-grid trial conducted in the Hunter region of the country.

Under the $100m Smart Grid Smart City project, more than 17,000 houses in Hunter in New South Wales have been monitoring energy usage using smart meters and related technologies.

According to a report from the region’s Newcastle Herald newspaper, analysis of the results presented at a national energy conference in Sydney this week showed that smart grid technologies could save Australians around the country hundreds of dollars a year as a result of lower energy usage.

The Hunter project ran from 2010 until 2014 and has been described as one of the most ambitious smart-grid studies in the world.

Engineering firm Arup (London, UK) led the analysis of results and has also helped develop a business plan for the rollout of these technologies on a national scale.

“We estimate total net benefits across the grid in the order of $28 billion if the most promising smart-grid technologies were to be implemented nationally,” said Richard Sharp, Arup principal and project director, as quoted by the Newcastle Herald. “That’s money that can be applied to other infrastructure and services, or shaved off bills for households or business.”

“For example, at the household level, we can use technology to change electricity usage patterns so as to dampen demand at peak periods, reducing capacity requirements over the long term,” he added.

According to Arup’s research, the biggest economic benefits would reportedly come from technologies designed to improve overall network reliability, such as fault detection isolation and restoration technologies – allowing network faults to be detected and dealt with quickly.

Arup and its associates were also said to have found that usage of smart meters and other in-home monitoring technologies would “smooth” consumption patterns and reduce levels of demand on the grid at peak times by giving households more control over their energy consumption.

The results of the analysis are expected to feed into regulatory reforms in the electricity supply and distribution sector.

Ian Macfarlane, Australia’s Industry Minister, is also reported to have said the government is actively pursuing energy market reform to make Australia’s electricity sector more efficient.
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