Australia’s government has committed itself to funding the “Smart Grid, Smart City” initiative, which will see the government and energy and communications sectors working in partnership to roll out Australia’s first commercial scale smart grid.

The Au$100 million (US$87 million) project, which was subject to a pre-deployment study, is expected to provide valuable information that will drive industry investment in smart grid technologies in the future.

A preliminary analysis indicates that implementing smart grid technologies across Australia could deliver at least Au$5 billion (US$4.3 billion) of gross annual benefit to Australian society, including improvements in the operation of the power industry and an estimate of the monetised benefits of reduced greenhouse gases and improved power grid reliability.

The study “Smart Grid, Smart City: A new direction for a new energy era,” points out that there are a number of barriers to smart grid implementation, including standards for many applications, regulatory frameworks that may not reflect the full potential benefits or provide guidance on cost recovery or risk, and a common understanding of the costs and benefits of smart grid applications. Thus the project funding should be directed at reducing or eliminating as many of the barriers to widespread deployment as possible. Further consortium applicants should provide significant co-investment for the programme to align interests and generate ‘ownership.’

In order to effectively demonstrate the variety of customer-side applications, the report suggests a minimum of 9,000 to 10,000 participating households, implying a total minimum population of some 200,000 people, depending upon the number and design of each trial, and the anticipated take-up rate of those trials within the population.