While developments in automatic meter reading and DSM have been taking place over many decades, the current smart meter debate in Australia originated in Victoria in 2004. This started with the utilities modernising the meter network which would, among other things, allow them to capture electricity usage in 30-minute intervals. This enables differential pricing by time-of-day and enables utilities to discourage certain types of ‘non-time-critical’ use during periods of high demand. Reducing peaks has a major impact on electricity generation costs, alleviating the need for new power plants and cutting down on damaging greenhouse emissions.
It also impacts on the capital investment in the grid itself, since infrastructure has to be scaled to cope with peak demand, even if that demand occurs only for a very small percentage of the time. There are other benefits like electronic meter reading, but these tend to be incidental to the issue of better managing supply and demand.
Based on the latest environmental challenges, the focus needs to be shifted to smart grids, and smart meters should only be considered in the broader context of the modernisation of electricity networks through the introduction of sensing, communications and information technology into the grid.
The problems that the sate of Victoria are facing with its smart meter rollout is a good lesson for others looking at their rollout programmes (separate report) see: Australia - Smart Meters in Victoria - Case Study
This report provides an overview of the developments that are more specific to the smart meters rather than to smart grids. Smart meters are going to play a key role in smart grids as the in-house energy management tools for the users.
Hot topics covered in this report include:
Smart meters, AMI, AMR, Smart Grids, Demand Site Management