The industry both domestically and globally is changing at a rate never seen before, how energy distributors respond is now firmly under the microscope.

For Ergon’s General Manager Network Development and Future Networks Blake Harvey, it’s the type of planning that consumes most of his days.

Getting this particular area right is far from an exact science but as the old saying goes “if you fail to prepare, prepare to fail.”

“One really unique thing about the grid is the fact that it connects all of Queensland’s communities and all of those different parts of a fairly diverse state so to my mind it’s that connectivity that’s perhaps the key aspect of the grid.

“Traditionally you’ve only been able to get electricity from the grid, we’re now seeing a whole range of renewable sources coming to the fore; the grid’s going to be that glue that brings all of those services together.”

With the growth of electric vehicles, solar panels and home energy storage, the days of energy networks simply providing power to the home or business are changing.

Blake Harvey

Technology is rapidly growing, and with that growth, is a real opportunity for Blake Harvey and his team to help shape Ergon’s network of the future.

“The technologies will come and go and I think we all get a bit pre-occupied sometimes with the technology but what are the outcomes that we need to deliver? What is it our customers want and a lot of the time those things don’t change, there’s that focus on security and on affordability and safety.

“Historically we’ve always provided all of those outcomes ourselves, going forward, it’s going to be in partnership with a number of other technologies, a number of other suppliers and so I think, what’s it going to look like in ten years-time? I don’t know but what I do know is it’s pretty exciting.”

Ergon has been involved in trialing and testing home battery storage for a number of years, an area that is tipped to expand significantly once systems reach a more affordable price point.

Blake Harvey says ultimately it will be the customer that will continue to shape the network of the future and that network, needs to be able to respond to whatever it is the customer wants.

“The customer end is where we’ll see a lot of change is occurring. It’s the customers that are putting in the PVs, that are interested in batteries, the whole electric vehicle discussion and charging at home so I think the customer end is where it’s really exciting and where you’ll see a lot of change.

“I think we’ve got to remember that different people are going to have different levels of interest, so not everyone is going to want to trade the electricity market using their solar panels some people are going to want to come home, flick a switch and have access to that utility. The challenge is finding a solution that empowers individual customers, but supports the entire community”