SGA News

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  August 2015

Powercorp to add Australia’s ‘biggest’ battery to grid in regional Victoria

Ergon seeks 200MW of big solar, accelerates push into storage

British Energy market investigation

Could smart meters disrupt the grid?

Total Corporate Funding into the Wind Sector Totaled $3 Billion in Q2 2015

35 years of energy efficiency progress, 35 more years of energy efficiency opportunity
Distributed Solar PV
Infographic illustrating the smart grid journey
Green Touch
Community resilience & the future of small grids 
Improving energy efficiency and smart grid program analysis
Empowered customers, can we keep up?  SGA Summit - November 18th at Sydney
Power consumers are finally getting some satisfaction
•  Changing uses of the electric grid: reliability challenges and concerns 
•  Obama’s clean energy plan 

CSIRO and ENA partner to map electricity sector transformation 

The Economics of Grid Defection 
•  Assessment of strategy and execution for 13 demand response providers 

No more niche: Microgrid market to nearly quadruple  

Australia's not-so competitive retail electricity market  
•  Carbon policy design: get the politics out 

SGA Summit - Empowered customers, can we keep up?

18th November 2015 - Novotel Rockford, Darling Harbour, Sydney, NSW
With the customer now being an active participant in the energy system, it is the customer who has become the disrupter facilitated by new technologies. The industry will need to integrate the energy system into customer needs. By following the customer this Summit will explore how we can work with them to reshape our smart energy future.

It is in the industry’s interest to build a platform that allows all of the various customer and industry elements to be interconnected. Putting customers central in these developments means providing them with the tools and services they are looking for such as choice, affordability, simplicity and reliability. 

Please find detailed Summit agenda and event information.

For bookings and information please contact us by email  

SGA - AIM Benefits Review

SGA has submitted a response to the AIM Benefits Review currently conducted by the Victorian Government. Please access this response here 

SGA Summit - The Five Disruptors 

Melbourne | 24 - 25 March 2015

The March 2015 SGA Summit brought together six global thought leaders working together with our membership on issues critical for our future. The level of energy in the working roundtables and the cross fertilisation of ideas was quite amazing. There is now a renewed enthusiasm and a much deeper level of knowledge of how address the very complex issues ahead of us, including
  • Ecosystem of the grid
  • Distributed generation and storage
  • Future of transportation
  • Renewable economics
  • Cost to value
Amsterdam Smart City presentation download here

SGA - Summit Introduction presentation download here

Conference Photographs Please see here

Smart grid opportunities for the electricity providers 

With the significant changes underway in the electricity industry, with talk about the ‘spiral of death’ for the electricity providers, we would prefer to consider these changes as offering a ‘vortex of opportunities’. There certainly are plenty of them for those energy providers that are willing and able to use the new developments in ICT to transform their business.

Read more... 

Electricity companies and COP20 

At the COP20 event in Lima (the Conference of the Parties meeting of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) the reality of climate change bit in. The delegates were no longer talking about climate change mitigation; they were talking about adaptation. 

The conference agreed on the phasing out of fossil fuels by 2050. True, there are no binding agreements around this, but from now on we will see more and more changes happening that will lead to that goal. The Paris conference will be the next focal point for this, in one year’s time. Very importantly the Lima declaration – perhaps kick-started by the announcement by the USA and China at the G20 in Brisbane – sent out a clear message to investors in these sectors that there will be more risks attached to investments in the fossil fuel sectors in the future. For more information click here.

SmartGrid Australia Dinner/Conference - Smart Polices and Smart Strategies – 18-19 November 2014 

The Hon Leslie Williams MP, Parliamentary Secretary for Renewable Energy and SGA President Judy Anderson (at left) and Vice President Alex Cruickshank (right) at the 2014 SGA conference in Sydney.

View presentations here

SGA Media statement - NSW smart meter roll out


"Smart Grid Australia President, Judy Anderson, said today that Smart Grid Australia welcomes the NSW Government's announcement that it will support a market lead rollout of smart meters. Judy said that the proposed approach, putting the focus on customers having the choice of products that make sense to them, will create incentives for market participants to design their metering offerings to maximise customer benefits.

Judy noted that the NSW approach builds on the report from the Smart Grid Smart City Trial that found $25 Billion of potential benefits underpinned by the market led rollout of smart meters. She also commented that the NSW model is supported by work being undertaken in the industry to ensure effective competition in metering”


UN Climate Change Summit – Report from New York City

While attending the United Nations Broadband Commission meeting in New York City I was also able to follow the developments at the UN Climate Change Summit.

There was overwhelming people support for this event, the first high-level conference since the 2009 conference in Copenhagen. The day before hundreds of thousands of people around the world rallied in support of the conference, aimed at getting their politicians to take action. New York City was gridlocked during the rally, which was led by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, this was a  spectacular sight.

The focus of the Summit was on CO2 reduction and there were excellent presentations on the progress made with renewable energy, but I spent my time looking for developments in relation to energy efficiency and the smart technology that can be used to assist in that.

Read more....

SGA welcomes focus on advanced intelligent metering 


Smart Grid Australia welcomes the new Energy White paper, particularly the acknowledgement of the core supporting role of advanced intelligent metering and related equipment. 

Judy Anderson, President of Smart Grid Australia, noted that “In line with the recently released Smart Grid Smart City report, this paper affirms the core role of intelligent metering is promoting the two sided market where customers have more control over energy and other related aspects of their lives.”

Judy went on to note that ”the intelligent metering and related facilities will enable more cost effective prices and competition to ensure customers are able to drive the changes to the industry necessary to minimise the costs of providing energy”.

Finally Judy noted SGA’s recent work on the future of the industry – “ the combination of a tech savvy populace, developments in communications, smarts as well as the need for cost effective pricing means that whole communities are going to be able to operate more efficiently and with more control over essential facilities”.


Smart Grid Smart City Trial Final Report

Smart Grid Australia welcomes the completion of the Smart Grid Smart City Trial, conducted in Newcastle, Newington and Scone, and the detailed final report presented last week.

SGA President, Judy Anderson said; “The Smart Grid Smart City trial has provided a rich source of information, which is available for study, but the key outcome is that the business case is proven”. 

Download report

SGA participated in the Smart Community Summit in Tokyo 

GSGF member JSCA (Japan Smart Community Alliance) together with NEDO (New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organisation – part of Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry) organised the Smart Community Summit 2014 in Tokyo, Japan. The organisers had allocated a full afternoon for an international session with speakers from both GSGF and ISGAN.

Read more... 

2014 Update for Smart Grid Australia’s “Towards Australia’s Energy Future” 

Smart Grid Australia (SGA) launched its 2014 Update to its vision document “Towards Australia’s Energy Future”.
SGA believes that to be successful the industry must attract investment, provide safe and reliable supply, and provide consumer choice and competition.  To do this, an open and agile eco-system is needed together with an efficient industry that allows individuals, businesses and communities to gain increased value from the energy they consume.

Click to read more... 

Blog: Delighting and exciting our customers

Energy issues have taken something of a step back out of the limelight recently, so it is useful to see what we can learn from the lessons over the last few years. 

We saw major customer protests about the rollout of smart meters, but, since the companies involved improved their communication with their customers and explained what smart grids can do for them, the tide is turning. In general, people now better understand what smart meters can do and most are now in favour of the smart meter rollout. But the industry has not followed up this positive change with more innovation and other services.

Click to

SGA Sydney Conference | 19 November 2014 | Sydney 


SGA members - please put a note in your diary for the next SGA Conference,  scheduled for 19th November 2014 in Sydney.

Full details on location and speakers/topics will be provided  soon.


Blog: Smart meter update mid-2014


Market developments
So far the only whole-of-community smart meter/smart grid rollout in Australia has been in Victoria and this project is now reaching completion.

The main lesson has been that there needs to be far more involvement from the community at a much earlier stage, and this should include a carefully devised strategy on how to best inform and educate the customer about the benefits that they can derive from smart meter/smart grid rollouts.

Click to

2014: the year of M2M, but … 


Seeing what is on display at the CES in Las Vegas makes it obvious that M2M is clearly one of the highlights of the show, and several organisations are including M2M-based smarts in many of their consumer products: smart TVs, smart cars, smart fridges, smart homes appliances, home energy management systems, security products, and so on.

Of course this is great news for the industry as it opens up a whole new area of telecoms and ICT in general. However, it is critical to recognise that there are some very fundamental elements missing in this new development:
• Lack of industry standards
• Lack of privacy protection
• Lack of security protection
• Lack of upgradability

For some service organisations with a vested interest in introducing M2M services in the consumer market have mentioned the lack of industry standards and have asked for industry leadership in this area. Currently the industry is riddled with proprietary and ‘exclusive’ solutions, which will make true, large-scale M2M deployment more difficult to implement. Issues such a cost, interoperability, and access linked to ‘exclusive’ content, software, and services, will make truly large scale implementations more difficult for many of the consumer-based M2M services.

Increasingly, privacy will become a bigger issue. Many people will become more aware of privacy issues with smart devices, other than their smartphone, such as smart homes, smart cars and home automation, start entering the market. Industry will need to ensure privacy is protected and included in product development and implementation to minimise the risk of interference with smart devices including in the home.

Security in general is closely linked to this, as M2M services without appropriate security protections could be infiltrated  with significant implications for smart grids and smart transport. Many of the (utility) companies involved are also facing a lack of the ICT skills that are essential to developing secure systems. It is always best for industry to ensure suitable security protections are technology-based and part of the solution, rather then regulatory-based, as regulatory measures will always lag technology developments.

Once we start moving into smarter products such as computer devices or computer-based products and services, this will start to rapidly change the face of traditional industries including that of appliances. Developments in computer-based products are happening much faster than in other industries, such as cars, transport, grids, whitegoods, and entertainment equipment, which can have lifecycles of 5 to 10 years and longer.  So solutions need to be found so that new software developments can be added to these traditional products using easy to use upgrade paths.

It is important we ensure there are industry-based and developed open standards for products and services, to ensure products are developed that can be easily upgraded, minimising lock in. In one way or another, smart elements need to be separated from the actual product (car, washing machine, TV, etc) in order to provide a more independent and competitive upgrade solution.

While there was plenty of hype at the CES regarding M2M, there was amazingly little information about the key issues that eventually will make or break the success of M2M in the consumer market.

Paul Budde 


Google's acquisition of Nest and smart homes 

Google’s $3.2 billion acquisition of high-tech thermostat and smoke-detector maker Nest Labs will allow the company to further infiltrate people’s lives, not just via their smartphones but now also via a range of home appliances.

It is a logical development for the digital media giant and based on their record of innovation we can expect a range of interesting products and services, also known as machine-to-machine (M2M) communication and the Internet of Things (IoT), to enter this market.

It is not too difficult to imagine what the possibilities are. Judging by the role of smartphones in people’s everyday lives, understanding habits and preferences of home automation devices will take that one step further.

It can also have serious consequences for electricity utility companies, because if these devices take a similar growth path to smartphones then these companies will experience the same calamities as the mobile phone companies who were totally unprepared for this level of innovation. They stuck to their old business models and were rapidly (within one year) relegated to the ‘pipe operators’ for Google, Samsung, and Apple. In addition, many mobile operators faced a range of infrastructure problems as a consequence of the increased traffic over their networks.

Nest has been an innovator, and within four years became an expert in developing systems for home information that will be accessible by computers and analysing that data into real time, actionable applications. It developed an internet-connected thermostat that learns to cool and heat homes to suit the needs of the inhabitants, as well as a smoke and carbon-monoxide detector equipped with voice technology and the ability to communicate with their thermostat product.

Given the amount of money that Google paid for this company, it is expected that it will develop an entire line of internet-connected home products, some of them to be integrated in its smartphone apps and other existing Google services, all in an effort to make people’s lives easier. 

However, there is also a worrying aspect to this. Google is not well-known for a adopting best practice privacy policies.  These new devices and services could possibly enable the company to gather more information that could be used to sell the digital advertising that generates most of the company's revenue. This remains their core business .

While Nest Labs promised that customers’ personal information will only be used for ‘providing and improving Nest’s products and services’, we have heard similar messages for Google and others before.

It will be interesting to see if Google will get the balance right in the use of personal information. In general, these developments are very positive and can offer great benefits to people, the environment, and the need to be far more efficient with our electricity. However, there is anxiety about Google’s position in the digital market and a risk of governments stepping in if Google ignores privacy concerns. This would be a pity and it would be much more beneficial for everyone if the company took a leadership role about these concerns. With Nest products Google will soon be able to map every corner of people’s homes, together with a range of home and personal data.  SGA welcomes these new products and ways to deliver home automation that will benefit us all.  We trust NEST’s approach to personal information will continue under Google’s leadership. Privacy is of course also protected under the strict privacy rules which are in already place in many countries.

Paul Budde 

Let’s get smarter about electricity

Guest blog by Cameron o'Reilly

After the period of energy price spikes driven by poorly designed climate policies and profligate network investment that Australia has just experienced, understandably the focus of regulators and politicians is on keeping cost pressures low. While there were a range of factors driving retail energy prices in recent years, the consumer backlash provided fertile ground for the Prime Minister’s campaign against the carbon tax.

Fortunately for the Federal Government, in electricity, overall trends point towards a more benign price outlook in coming years. Carbon abolition is only part of this story, as low demand and greater network scrutiny will also play a role. In gas, wholesale price pressures from the Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) trade combined with policy restrictions on Coal Seam Gas (CSG), could hide some of the benefits of carbon tax repeal, yet Australian households use far more electricity than gas.

Carbon policy is a good example of how difficult it is for business to make decisions in an increasingly volatile political climate. Once the price implications of policies adopted by one government become apparent, new policies aimed at negating the earlier ones come into place. Meanwhile the private sector, which dominates our electricity and gas sector, is expected to make investment decisions on plant that will last 10 to 15 Federal election cycles.

It is somewhat fortuitous that due to a decrease in electricity demand of the order of 7 per cent since 2009, new investment in Australian generation has simply not been required - and may not be for years to come. Factors contributing to this decline in demand include reduced production by industries hit by a high dollar and rising energy prices, the proliferation of rooftop solar, energy efficiency schemes and a behavioural response by households to rising retail prices.

A coming review of the Renewable Energy Target (RET) by the Federal Government may impact future renewable investment and network expenditure will now face greater scrutiny from the Australian Energy Regulator (AER), whose powers have been strengthened by new rules, appeal procedures and a Consumer Challenge Panel.

Throw in the backlash in Victoria against the mandated smart meter roll out by electricity networks, which no other jurisdiction is likely to replicate, and the outlook for new investment right across the electricity sector looks restrained.

Such an environment of lower investment and pricing pressures should at least present a unique opportunity to complete politically sensitive policy changes such as phasing out retail price regulation. This is a must, if Governments want the market to meet the expectations of consumers with an increasing appetite for household generation, energy storage, information portals, in home displays and flexible retail products. Many of these are predicated on smart meters, which in the future will have to gain consumer acceptance under the “market led” policies now favoured by policy makers.

In the situation that Australia now finds itself in, with vast and expensive electricity networks, poorly utilised peak infrastructure, increasing amounts of rooftop solar, an expanding National Broadband Network (NBN) and an engaged and active consumer market, a policy argument for a smarter grid is developing.

From the point of generation where Australia’s costs remain globally competitive, at least in the non-renewable space, to the end price where we are no longer competitive, something has gone wrong. Advocates for the Smart Grid, hitherto a poorly understood concept, now have an opportunity to explain how it can help make the energy system deliver better outcomes for users.

Government’s role is to get the policy platform right so that consumer driven, smart investment can occur in coming years. In this case, increasing the productivity of the existing electricity infrastructure while giving consumers more choice and control, go hand in hand.

Cameron O’Reilly is the CEO of the Energy Retailers Association. This is an edited version of a talk he gave to Smart Grid Australia’s Annual Conference.

SGA policy recommendations

This document lists SGA's recommendations regarding government policies in relation to building a smart energy future. 

SGA considers that smart technologies have already demonstrated the potential to benefit customers. The next step is to bring these elements together to demonstrate the full smart grid vision.

Click here to access this informative 4-page document. 

SGA March 2013 Sydney Conference

Presentations - SGA March 2013 Sydney Conference

SGA welcomes energy reforms 


Smart Grid Australia's welcomes the Prime Minister's announcement in July that Government policy needs to focus on delivering two per cent productivity.  Further, we are delighted that this is to include energy reform.  

Smart Grid Australia is in the process of refining its views on the energy policy that is needed to accelerate Australia's grid modernisations efforts. Extending the capture and use of information to boost network operational performance, enable better investment decisions, improve consumer engagement and facilitate greater collaboration between the key stakeholders is fundamental to these efforts.

Having energy available to all at a competitive price is vital to the Australian economy.  SGA believes energy policy will benefit from a more holistic approach, recognising that intelligent grid technologies are vital to a more sustainable, cost effective and customer-focused energy future. 


SGA Launches Key Documents in Parliament on Tuesday November 27th 2012 


Rising electricity prices have become a hot topic, and it is encouraging to see the more informed discussion that is now developing around the factors driving price increases.  Aided by various Government reports, there is a growing understanding that un-restrained growth in peak demand will either necessitate further investment to upgrade grid capacity, or lead to a decline in the quality of electricity supply on which Australians rely.  As noted by the Productivity Commission, 25% of a typical electricity bill relates to meeting demand peaks that occur just 40 hours a year! Read more... (OR) Download Report 


I am delighted to be launching the second report from the SGA Consumer Working Group ‘ Unlocking Consumer Values’.  It’s a collaborative effort of a diverse group of the SGA membership.

When we started our working group over 3 years ago the subject of consumer engagement in smarter technologies was rarely a headline. Much has changed in the last three years. We have learnt a great deal and seen specific trends emerge to improve the consumer engagement in the adoption of smart grid technologies across Australia. 
Read more... (OR) Download Report


Mandating Smart Appliance Interfaces

SGA made  a submission in response to the Consultation Regulation Impact Statement for the Load Control AS/NZS 4755 standard.

We welcome  the development of this standard and supports the mandate of the AS/NZS 4755 standard on all applicable appliance types on or before 1July 2014. Smart Grid Australia strongly supports the recommendations documented in the Regulatory Impact Statement for Mandating Smart Appliance Interfaces.

For more information
click here

Energy White Paper only First step 

Smart Grid Australia welcomes the Federal Government’s White paper on Energy's  focus on the use of smart technologies that will empower customers to be able to take greater control over their energy usage.

It highlights that electricity pricing needs to be overhauled, through retail price deregulation, in order to stop inefficient investment in infrastructure which is only used for 40 hours a year.

A strategy of “more of the same” is not sufficient to meet the needs of the future, and so it is timely to be focusing on the changes that are needed.

It is  imperative to introduce increased monitoring and control mechanisms into the grid itself.  It is simply not possible to effectively manage something as dynamic as an electricity network without visibility as to what’s happening.  This demands a shift in network investment towards the deployment of smarter technologies – not just more of the same to cope with rising peaks.  Such investment is an important part of the solution, not part of the problem.

It is encouraging to see the degree of alignment between the Energy White Paper and the strategic direction that SGA has been independently developing.  The electricity sector is embarking upon a period of massive change and transformation, driven by factors like consumer concerns over rising prices, growth in peak demand, the impact of the widespread deployment of PV arrays, the looming impact of electric vehicles and growing environmental concerns

Energy monitoring for households 


In their recent report ‘Broadband Connected Homes’ the CSIRO is investigating a consumer-centric approach to household energy monitoring and control. CSIRO has, in collaboration with an Australian company, Saturn South, developed a low-cost energy monitoring and control system for households. The system consists of smart circuit breakers hat can monitor and control (in the form of on/off switching) energy use at a circuit level for a household. These smart circuit breakers can be installed into existing residential switchboards, and send data via a Zigbee wireless link to a home network via a gateway device.

This allows the occupants to dynamically view their energy consumption at a circuit level (e.g. stove, air-conditioning, lighting and general circuits) on virtually any network connected consumer display device. It also makes it possible for the householder to elect to use an energy services provider to be able to shut down particular devices or circuits, such as air conditioning or water heating, for short periods during times of peak load in exchange for reduced costs.


PC Report: Electricity Network Regulatory Frameworks 


The Productivity Commission's issued its draft report “Electricity Network Regulatory Frameworks” on how electricity networks should be regulated. It indicates upfront that the 'Clean Energy Future' package – the 'carbon tax' – is not the main driver of higher electricity costs.

It confirms that the increase in network costs is what has been pushing up electricity prices around the country and the Commission analyses these cost in great detail.

One of the reasons for this increase in network costs is to add a level of intelligence to the grid that will allow (among other things) for ‘demand management’. The Commission states that 25% of people's power bills cover just 40 hours of peak demand a year. The report also confirms - as has been argued by Smart Grid Australia for the last 5 years - that there are potential savings to be had in electricity distribution that outstrip the cost of  the price on carbon.

SGA vision document: 
Towards Australia’s  Energy Future - The Enabling Role of Smart Grids highlights the important role of smart technologies that will enable the country to reap the social and economic benefits of this process.

The report comes out very strongly in favour of privatising the remaining electricity distribution assets. 


SGA Vision Statement 


Six months ago, I was beginning to wonder just how SGA should position itself in what is becoming a crowded landscape with seemingly every man and his dog talking about smart grids, writing reports, undertaking trials,  launching research projects, forming interest groups, running smart grid conferences and the like.

When SGA was established as the first organisation of its kind in Australia some 5 years ago, smart meters dominated thinking - and it was a very real challenge to shift the focus to a broader view where smart meters were viewed as just one element in the network of the future. SGA rose to that challenge, and its efforts in lobbying both Commonwealth and State politicians and bureaucrats directly contributed to a budget allocation of $100m for the Smart Grid Smart City (SGSC) initiative. In turn, that initiative put Smart Grids squarely on the radar of every Australian utility. Whether directly involved in SGSC or not, most utilities are now well-advanced in assessing smart grid technologies and formulating strategies with the intent of factoring them into their next rate cases. To some extent, it was starting to look like a case of "mission accomplished!".

However, any thought that SGA no longer has a clear role going forward has been swept aside by recent developments. In particular, rising electricity prices have put a spotlight on the industry - consumer sentiment is running hot - and politicians are looking to score points with voters wherever they can. In this climate, there is a very real risk that progress towards upgrading Australia's electricity infrastructure to meet the needs of the future will suffer. The challenges are as real now as they were when SGA first formed - only the character is different.

Without doubt, the price on carbon is contributing to rising electricity bills. However, there are other factors that are less well understood - for example, the continuing rise in peak demand which is driving the need to upgrade both generation and distribution capacity. These investments need to be recovered over average consumption, and that tends to have been stable or falling in the past couple of years. Its a powerful recipe for price increases!

At a more technical level, the popularity of distributed generation (especially roof-top PV arrays) is changing the whole pattern of energy flows in the grid - and the looming generation of electric vehicles will further disrupt much of the relative predictability on which network engineers have designed and built networks in the past. Improving visibility and control in the grid is no longer simply a "nice to have" - its becoming increasingly necessary to support the reliable delivery of a quality electricity supply. The good news is that Smart Grid technologies can also unlock a whole raft of new efficiencies in areas such as asset management, operations and maintenance - and so there are prospective savings (albeit, not especially well quantified at this stage) that will flow from the investment in modernising Australia's electricity infrastructure.

In response to the changing environment, SGA has recently developed a Vision Statement to set a coherent and well-documented direction for the next chapter of its activities. The statement will be launched at the September conference - less than 2 weeks away now - and will provide the foundation for an action program to make a positive difference in Australia's progress towards Smart Grids. All stakeholders and members of SGA will benefit from the success of SGA's program - whether they be utilities looking to upgrade their networks, technology suppliers, research and development organisations - or simply consumers wanting a reliable supply at the most efficient cost.

By way of some early insight into the key directions, the Vision Statement puts forward the following five recommendations:

1. Establish a common direction for all government policies and initiatives, forming a single cohesive view recognising that the Smart Grid is the foundation for unlocking Australia’s energy future.

2. Develop a framework that creates incentives for industry innovation to encourage breakthroughs in consumer engagement.

3. Review institutional arrangements to identify barriers that need to be dismantled to provide the most appropriate incentives for investment in modern technologies.

4. Promote broad collaboration to progress the above recommendations, recognising that the active participation of many stakeholders is needed to deliver these benefits.

5. Review and update education and training programs to reflect the more pervasive role that ICT will play in the electricity sector of the future.

More of the background to these recommendations will be discussed at the September conference - and in the coming weeks a program of visits to key politicians, decision makers, bureaucrats and policy makers will be developed to serve as the spearhead for SGA's efforts on this front.

To see SGA’s vision stamen document entitled “Towards Australia’s Energy Future” please follow this link:

Robin Eckermann
Chairman SGA


Government should show leadership in smart energy policies 


As discussed in the previous blog, the cost of energy itself is becoming an increasingly small part of the overall energy economy. When we look further into the future with more renewable energy entering the market these costs will, percentage-wise, be reduced even further.  Increased decentralised energy production will create a significant increase in self-reliance both amongst commercial users and residential users. But after the initial investments in renewable energy technologies are made, also for the traditional energy companies who will start integrating them into their business,  the costs of energy itself will percentage wise reduce.

From an economic point of view the focus of the industry should therefore move from a business model based on energy delivery to one aimed at energy management. Apart from all the other developments in the industry this will add extra complexity – it will require a total overhaul of the industry’s structure, plus a fundamental change in business models. Fortunately for the industry this process will take 20 to 30 years to complete. However, with very large-scale investments underway (according to the recent Ross Garnaut report, $250 billion over the next 20 years) it is essential that these investments be based on moving towards that new environment.

If that money were to be spent in the way that investments have been made over the last 50 years, then the outcomes we will simply be increasing our existing problems, as a far more radical new approach is needed that will lead to a the total transformation of the energy market. Those investments should therefore be based on such a transformation. Considerable discussion is taking place regarding the $27 billion investment of the government in the NBN over the next ten years, but such scrutiny is not being applied to the much larger and probably more important $250 billion in energy investments.

These enormous investments can create significant social and economic benefits, and these benefits do not show up on the balance sheets of companies that are making private investments. These are commercial companies are not going to make social decisions. As the representative of the national interest the government should make sure that the right policies and initiatives are taken in order to achieve these national outcomes; and they will have to work with the industry to find the right balance between the commercial interests of these organisations and the national interest.

It is unlikely that these companies will make their investments simply to ensure those social and economic benefits – certainly not within the current legal framework. One could argue that the current regulatory system would deliver the opposite outcome since, in many cases, energy companies would be penalised if they were to make investments that were aimed at the national interest.

Most parties involved in these debates are now pointing to clear government leadership on the various energy issues and a whole-of-government approach.

Also, with new financial guidelines based on the Basel III agreement, the borrowing of large sums of investment money by private companies will become increasingly difficult. In order for this to happen the government will have to show clear leadership; and they should drive the process. With such leadership in place, the industry is more than happy to follow a clear energy efficiency action plan.  The reason for the confusion in the market regarding the various energy policies and initiatives at the moment is a lack of clarity and coordination and it seems that this situation is unlikely to change, which will only prolong the period of uncertainty.

Paul Budde


Consumers have tremendous expectations for future energy services 

However, they are largely unaware that they need to take a more active role in managing energy decisions for their visions to become reality.

In many cases, consumers lack even the basic knowledge necessary to accomplish this. Utilities and other smart grid advocates need to improve information transfer to consumers to build broader support and the customer engagement that can follow. Delivered through trusted and generation-appropriate channels, this information must address consumers' specific knowledge levels, most important motivating influences and current perceptions of providers.

Download full report  

Global Smart Grid Federation Report

The Global Smart Grid Federation is committed to creating smarter, cleaner electricity systems around the world. By linking the major public-private stakeholders and initiatives of participating countries, the federation shares practices, identifies barriers and solutions, fosters innovation, and addresses key technical and policy issues. These and other activities help member organizations initiate changes to their countries’ electric systems to enhance security, increase flexibility, reduce emissions, and maintain affordable,
reliable, and accessible power. 

In addition, the Global Smart Grid Federation works with the International Smart Grid Action Network as well as with national and international government policymakers to address the broad challenges of deploying smarter grids. This nexus provides a forum for communication and collaboration, which will advance smart grids around the world and facilitate consensus-building within the international community to address electricity system and climate change concerns. 

Download full report

Power of choice - giving consumers options in the way they use electricity 

Consultants report for the AEMC's Demand Side Participation Stage 3 Review (Power of Choice) which canvasses all the DSP pilots and trials throughout Australia.
This may serve a good check point as to what is happening across the industry.

Download report 

Building a smart energy future 


SGA welcome’s the government’s package of energy efficiency programs designed to drive smarter energy use in business, local government, households and communities for a clean energy future.

The programs include:

  • The Community Energy Efficiency Program – $200 million to assist local government, not-for-profit and community organisations to undertake energy efficiency upgrades to community infrastructure.
  • The Low Income Energy Efficiency Program – $100 million to support groups of service providers to demonstrate smarter energy use in low income households across Australia.
  • The Energy Efficiency Information Grants program – $40 million to support small and medium sized businesses and community groups by providing information and advice to make smarter energy choices.

SGA has been a long time supporter of using smart technologies to address the issues of climate change, energy efficiency and sustainability and is keen to play a key role in these new programmes.


NBN statement from SGA - 10 Oct 2011

There has been some public comment about the cost savings of smart metering utilising NBN.  SGA's position is that we believe there are synergies between NBN and smart grid technologies and that this needs to be explored along the lines being undertaken in the Smart Grid, Smart City demonstration.

Accordingly, SGA's Intelligent Network Working group is looking at these synergies with NBNCo.  SGA is working with NBNCo to examine any potential costs and benefits of bringing NBN and smart grid technologies together.  This work is focused on a national approach.

One of the challenges of taking advantage of the synergies is the different timeframes for the rollout of these technologies.

Change in services driven by Sensing and monitoring information

According to an Australian Communications and Media Authority report, information harvesting through sensing and monitoring is increasingly pervasive in many aspects of day-to-day life and is being used to drive changes in life-supporting sectors including areas such as; food, health, energy, environment, entertainment and social engagement.

The report, ‘Sensing and Monitoring – recent developments’ looks at changes in information and communications technology that support the collection, connection and analysis of data through sensing and monitoring. This data is then being used to drive changes in production and distribution processes and the reach of services in the Australian economy.

Sensing and monitoring provide the mechanism for the harvesting of digital data. Sensors are parts of machines that gather data and have an important role in the processing and transport of data. Monitoring is a process that observes a state in time or tracks changes in data sets to derive information.

The report also examines:
  • the use of sensing and monitoring developments across particular industry sectors of the digital economy,
  • potential implications of digital capabilities for users,
  • while the information revolution can potentially empower both organisations and individuals, it is also creating a pervasive environment that is increasingly less private, shrouded in technology, and raising questions about ownership and use of gathered information.
The report found that consumer experience will continue to drive many aspects of sensing and monitoring in providing information to people. An example of this is the smartphone as a source of data. These phones have emerged as a device that meets the consumer-centric expectation by providing a rich human interface experience and the ability to acquire and sense information in a personalised environment.
The smartphone provides not only the data input and information output but, in some instances, the application platform as well. This can be challenging to providers as functional trade-offs are made between the machine and human interface.  

SGA welcomes NBN developments

Smart Grid Australia welcomes the significant progress that has been made with the signing of the definite agreement between Telstra and the Government. With the NBN now firmly moving forwards the opportunities for smart grids are firming up. Smart Grid Australia and NBN Co have a work group relationship where such issues can be discussed. The NBN legislation also enables NBN to work directly with the electricity companies to interconnect their networks. Just like existing carriers arrangements, electricity companies will have to become carriers if they offer communications services to their customers.

Increasingly the focus of the industry is moving towards ‘The Internet of Things’ and smart grids are seen as one of the largest elements of this new development. Increasingly names such as ‘Super Grids’ and Super Intergrid’ are popping up in industry papers. The development of IPv6 is also getting the attention of the electricity industry as this IP address system would allow them to make every sensor in the network and every power point in the home an IP addressable element of the grid.

Media Release

European Distribution System Operators Organization - Joins the Global Smart Grid Federation 
October 6, 2011 - Washington, DC - The Global Smart Grid Federation (GSGF), an international collaborative effort among national smart grid associations, today announced that The European Distribution System Operators (EDSO) for Smart Grids has joined the Federation.

here to download the document
Launch of Smart Grid Research and Development Roadmap

Smart Grid Australia (SGA) has developed a Research and Development Roadmap to guide the energy industry and the research community in the key areas of research needed to support the rollout of smart grids in Australia.

here to download the document

Clean Energy Future’ opens up opportunities for new investments in smart grids

Smart Grid Australia welcomes the government’s carbon price scheme ‘Clean Energy Future’. It brings certainty to the market and will allow companies to start planning for a greener and a much more energy efficient future by investing in arrange of new technologies.

here to download the document

Smart Grid Australia welcomes focus on energy efficiency

With talk about the Multi-Party Committee on Climate Change to conclude negotiations shortly, Smart Grid Australia encourages energy efficiency to be included in the package of agreed measures to address reducing Australia's carbon emissions.

here to download the document

Smart Grid Australia - Maximising Consumer Benefits

1st July 2011, Melbourne, Australia: Smart Grid Australia (SGA) today released a Consumer Report today entitled ‘Maximising Consumer Benefits’ which highlights that deeper consumer engagement is important for them to benefit from new smart grid technologies. The report, developed in collaboration with Retailers, Distribution companies, Academia, Technology Vendors and Consultants, explores some of the issues surrounding consumers and smart grids, and offers suggestions about how to manage consumer engagement.

here to download the document

Smart Grid Australia provided the vision for the Smart Grid/Smart City project

In 2009 Smart Grid Australia presented its vision and ideas to the government in relation to what is now known as the Smart Grid/Smart City Project (SGSC). The project was so well received by the government that it doubled the proposed funding to $100 million. The aim is to link 9,500 homes to a smart grid during the period 2010-2013. The project was awarded to a consortium and is expected to deliver many valuable lessons and highlight key issues to be considered in the deployment of Smart Grid solutions across Australia.

here to download the document