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Australia’s power – what comes next?

4 October 2016
There is huge potential for the country’s energy landscape to change

The development of an integrated national ‘whole of system’ model for Australia’s electricity and gas systems, maximising the use of ‘excess’ renewable energy and an increasing focus on the consumer, will be among the key recommendations presented at the final FutureGrid Project roundtable at the University of Sydney.

There is huge potential for the country’s energy landscape to change, with opportunities for tailored power supply for both individual households and business needs
Professor Tony Vassallo, FutureGrid Project leader

FutureGrid Project members including leading power researchers from the CSIRO and four Australian universities will brief senior executives from industry, regulators, and government on the outcomes of their three-year investigation.

Professor Tony Vassallo, Delta Electricity Chair in Sustainable Energy Development at the University of Sydney and FutureGrid Project leader, said:

“There is huge potential for the country’s energy landscape to change, with opportunities for tailored power supply for both individual households and business needs.

“The aim of this meeting is to advise key stakeholders on our research outcomes and their associated implications for Australia’s future energy needs.”

The FutureGrid research project combined the engineering, economic and policy aspects of future grid modeling, optimisation and planning.

It focused on four project areas including: power and energy systems modeling and security; grid planning and co-optimisation (with gas networks); economic and investment models for future grids; and robust energy policy frameworks for investment into future grids.

Building on an earlier CSIRO-led project, the group developed models and tools that will allow enhanced analysis of different energy network configurations for a range of future scenarios.

Power grids, including Eastern Australia’s National Electricity Market (NEM) grid, evolved as systems where a small number of large, remote generators provided power at high voltage through a transmission system. These were connected to customers through a lower voltage distribution grid.

With predictions of 20 different energy sources and technologies by 2050, and an increasing number of prosumers – those who both purchase and provide power to the grid, such as solar power -- Australia’s future grid will need to evolve and operate under a potentially very different environment from today.

John Blik, Future Grid Project manager from Renaissance Energy Australia, said:

“Energy technologies are changing rapidly, together with consumer expectations. Integrating the wide range of new energy sources into the grid, and accounting for prosumer behaviours, is a big challenge. We can help meet this challenge with ongoing research, and contribute to delivering an affordable, sustainable and reliable future grid for Australia.”

The FutureGrid Project included experts from the University of Sydney, University of New South Wales, University of Newcastle, University of Queensland and the CSIRO.

Victoria Hollick

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