• Technology Drivers

    The drivers for developing a Smart Grid can be grouped into the following three categories:

    1. Government policy drivers

    2. Customer behaviour and requirements drivers

    3. Industry and technology change drivers

     

    1. Government policy drivers include:

    • Climate change objectives – Renewable Energy Targets (RET), feed-in tariffs, and the proposed Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) are responses to concerns over global warming and its impact on the environment. In addition Energy Efficiency policies are being developed that will also contribute to improving energy security.
    • Competitive economy objectives – Governments will introduce policies to spur industry productivity and competitiveness. Given the huge investment in the ‘green race’ (where Smart Grids play an important enabling role), countries will need to invest and take advantage of any opportunities they have in this field to ensure employment opportunities are addressing the new industries. Policies will need to encourage R&D, skills development, and working through energy security issues, as well as measuring and monitoring carbon impact.
    • Customer protection objectives – Governments (and regulators) are tasked with ensuring customers receive reliable and affordable energy supply. There is also a requirement to balance the needs of the country to grow energy supply with the impact on consumers and vulnerable parts of the community.

     

    2. Customer behaviour and requirement drivers include:

    • Increasing demand – The growing number and increasing energy requirements of electrical devices in homes and businesses is pushing up peak demands on networks. Meeting higher peak demands requires a significant investment by energy companies in new generation and energy efficiency.
    • Increasing functionality requirements – New technological developments, climate change concerns and supportive government policies are encouraging consumers to adopt products such as small scale renewable solar generation. These technologies require increased network functionality including higher levels of safety to support their operation.

     

    3. Industry and technology change drivers include:

    • Existing technologies are becoming more affordable – Technologies that improve monitoring and control throughout transmission networks are becoming more affordable, allowing them to be deployed at a lower level in the distribution networks.
    • New technologies are available – The availability of new technologies creates both opportunities and threats to the network that will need to be managed. There are new network monitoring and controlling options, while new technologies for customers offering higher functionality have to be supported. Both contribute to the evolution of the network becoming “smarter”. In addition, the intermittent nature of renewable energy generation (large or small scale), and the resulting mismatch with consumer demand, will require increased functionality to support it in the network. One new technology, the electric vehicle, may become highly useful in facilitating this increased penetration of renewable technologies through their power storage capacity, however, charging the batteries could increase electricity demand and require additional functionality.
    • Ageing infrastructure needs replacing – The network is comprised of high value long life assets which are due for replacement to ensure reliability and consistent customer service. Now is the best time to reassess the type of investments being made to ensure that the network will remain viable over the long term and has the right mix of new technologies to maintain network performance.