Ergon in partnership to map electricity network

Published: 15 Jul 2015 12:44pm

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ERGON Energy has welcomed the opportunity to be involved in the development of a roadmap that will transform the Australian electricity network industry over the next decade.

The Energy Networks Association (ENA) and CSIRO today announced the Australian-first partnership between the national science agency and electricity networks, including Ergon Energy, to deliver an Electricity Network Transformation Roadmap.

The Roadmap will set out a pathway to support 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.

Ergon Energy Chief Executive Ian McLeod, a panellist at the launch in Brisbane today (July 15), 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," Mr McLeod said.

"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.

The transformation of the Australian energy system is already underway with 1.4 million household generators, significantly greater consumer engagement, falling per capita consumption, and smart grid technologies enabling better network services.

The Network Transformation Roadmap project will use the best available science from CSIRO and close collaboration with stakeholders to inform a ten-year transition plan.

Central to the transformation will be the evolution of the way customers use, produce and value electricity and energy services.

"Energy transformation is challenging traditional business models but it is also creating opportunities for alternative services to unlock additional value for both homes and businesses," said CSIRO Chief Economist, Paul Graham.

Australian households are world leaders in the uptake of household solar power, with almost 15% having adopted the technology – more than triple that of Germany, in second place.

The internationally significant penetration of rooftop solar panels in Australia combined with the promise of accessible energy storage technology within a few years, means that Australian networks are in a unique position to lead the world in demonstrating how to transform the energy system in a way that is responsive to customer choice.

"Australia is an ideal place to launch this collaboration. While other developed countries around the world face similar change pressures, Australia's impressive rates of household solar penetration together with its market diversity – from remote rural networks to highly urbanized cities are truly unique," said Mr Graham.

There is enormous potential for new business models such as micro-grids or 'transactive' automated demand control systems to replace our conventional model of supplying bulk power to largely passive consumers, and we are well placed to explore these opportunities within the sector.

The Roadmap development process can therefore take into account the expertise available both in Australia and internationally and adapt them for Australian energy customers.

"We look forward to working with all stakeholders to position electricity networks and supply chain participants to meet customers changing expectations for the future," said Mr Bradley.

Project partners will deliver findings in two parts: first, an Interim Report in November 2015 to share early learnings, and then an Industry Transformation Report and the final Roadmap in October 2016.

You can read more the ENA release online.

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Panel at Roadmap launch
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