$100 million for smart grids - 13 May 2009

Perhaps the most interesting element of the $100 million investment in a new smart grid demonstration project is that it is linked to the National Broadband Network. It clearly shows the trans sector thinking the government has embarked upon.

We asked for $50 million for demonstration projects (Funding Proposal) but the Government will provide $100 million in 2009‑10 for what they call the National Energy Efficiency Initiative to develop an innovative smart-grid energy network. Combining broadband with intelligent grid technology and smart meters in homes, this demonstration project will enable greater energy efficiency and better integration of renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind power. Funding will be provided to a consortium of state and local government, public and private energy companies and other private sector investors for the large scale demonstration of integrated smart grid technologies.

This initiative builds on the Government's investment in the National Broadband Network, household energy efficiency and renewable energy. It includes the $3.9 billion Energy Efficient Homes Package that provides rebates for the installation of insulation and solar hot water systems, the new Solar Credits Scheme supporting home micro-generation, and the expanded Solar Cities program.

Smart grid technology uses sensors to monitor electricity supply across distribution networks using communications networks, such as broadband technology. Smart grids help to more easily integrate renewable energy like solar and wind power into the grid, and enable energy generated in homes, schools and businesses to be stored and shared.

Combined with smart meters in homes, this technology will allow consumers to access immediate information on how much energy they are using, at what cost, and how they can save money. It will also allow for more efficient and reliable network operation.

Work will begin immediately to identify opportunities to demonstrate this innovative smart grid network through the National Energy Efficiency Initiative.

Subject to an implementation study, the demonstration project will lead to an integrated system of renewable energy, smart grid and smart meter technology and infrastructure in one Australian city, town or region. It will bring together electricity power generation, transmission, and distribution providers as well as private partners and IT experts, and will inform the wider national deployment of smart grid technologies.

It will also examine links with the National Broadband Network and work closely with the Ministerial Council on Energy's National Stakeholder Steering Committee providing advice on the national smart metering program. By investing in this project now, Australia will be better placed to take advantage of the capabilities of the National Broadband Network, including the rollout of smart grid networks across the country.

The Government has invested heavily in energy efficiency and is determined that Australia now takes the next step to harness new technologies that drive even further energy efficiency.

The National Energy Efficiency Initiative will position Australia to be at the forefront of global efforts to use energy more efficiently as part of our broader commitment to combat climate change.

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