Smart grids

By Tim Groenendyk

By incorporating wireless technology
, Branka Vucetic and Wibowo Hardjawana, in collaboration with ARC Linkage partner, AusGrid, aim to better understand the challenges in the implementation of smart grids, while creating cost and energy efficient communication networks for the benefit of Australians.

Fibre optics

“Smart grid initiatives seek to improve operations, maintenance and planning by making sure that each component of the electric grid can both ‘talk’ and ‘listen’,” said Hardjawana.

A smart grid, he explained, applies computer intelligence, networking and communication technologies to enhance efficiency, cost and environmental sustainability of standard electrical networks and infrastructure.

“Currently operators and users can not control their electricity consumption,” said Hardjawana.

“You simply don’t know what the consumption is until the next billing cycle or meter reading. With smart grid, you know on the spot your current usage, as meter reading becomes real-time, and you can see which appliance is drawing the most energy.

“Furthermore, the operator can reduce your usage immediately, if there is power outage somewhere. Or increase or decrease the energy delivered based on your usage. All this will result in energy saving."

In addition to providing financial support to the project AusGrid also supplies their technological expertise in electrical communications which, according to Hardjawana, is essential for “enabling the implementation of the ideas developed.”

AusGrid will use this technology to enable meters in residential homes to connect directly to substations across wireless networks.

“The outcomes of this research are better communication methods for smart grid networks, and understanding the communication requirements of smart grid networks,” Dr Hardjawana.

“We expect to have patents for commercial outcomes, and strong publications for academic outcomes.

“By improving existing concepts in wireless engineering we can address new problems in different areas of smart grid technology,” explained Hardjawana.

“This results in new insights, concepts and solutions."