Australia - Smart Energy and Smart Grids - Market Overview
For numerous reasons the electricity industry is one of the last industries to undergo a major transformation in order to enter the digital economy. An emphasis on keeping electricity prices as low as possible led to severe under-investment in the grid to cope with issues such as energy efficiency, the integration of renewable energy sources and consumer tools aimed at managing home energy use more efficiently.
This began to change with a change in government in 2007. Labor government policies forced the industry to become more focused on the issues and also led to the formation of the industry alliance, Smart Grid Australia. They were instrumental in putting smart grids on the government's agenda. This led to the Smart Grid/Smart City project, which is covered in a separate report. Catch-up investment has lead to price hikes, which in turn have created political upheaval. Despite all of this there is still no cohesive holistic government policy that takes all the many different elements into account in its industry policies. The government's White Papers and new rules for energy networks published in 2012 and 2014 are still siloed approaches, and while smart technologies are starting to feature more prominently they are still not adopted as key enablers to the various government policies.
Over the last few years it has become clear that there are many elements to this transformation and the term smarter energy' is more appropriate to describe this. From here the concept will further merge into smart buildings, smart cities, and indeed smart countries. The long term trend is clearly away from the one big grid towards innovative developments at the edge of the network and in particular battery storage developments are going to have a major impact here.
This report explains what the concepts around smart energy and smart grids are; why they are important; what the applications are; and how the Australian industry and the Australian government is preparing itself for the changes that these new policies will bring with them.