NSW Gets Plugged in for Clean Energy Grid Efficiency
Plug-in points for electric cars and electricity meters enabling appliances to be turned off over the internet will be installed in central Sydney and Newcastle, after NSW won a bid for $100 million in federal government climate change funding. Under the Energy Australia-led plan, sections of the electricity grid will be transformed to save power and measure the carbon footprints of individual households.
Ben Cubby, environment editor , Sydney Morning Herald (8 June 2010):
PLUG-IN points for electric cars and electricity meters enabling appliances to be turned off over the internet will be installed in central Sydney and Newcastle, after NSW won a bid for $100 million in federal government climate change funding.
Under the Energy Australia-led plan, sections of the electricity grid will be transformed to save power and measure the carbon footprints of individual households.
The program will run for three years in central Sydney, the upper north shore, Newington, Newcastle and Scone.
Volunteers in these areas will have second-generation ”smart meters” fitted in their homes later this year, allowing them check the energy use of appliances in real time via an Energy Australia website and to count their carbon footprint kilogram by kilogram. Some digital appliances will be turned on or off via the website.
A small fleet of electric cars, acquired by the City of Sydney, will trial the best places to locate plug-in recharge points. It is likely that some charging stations will be on the F3 freeway between Sydney and Newcastle.
The main demonstration area for smart meters will be in central Newcastle. Scone will also be a key trial area for measuring ways to tailor energy flow more closely to household demand.
It is not clear exactly how much energy the trial will save, if any, but the Climate Change Minister, Penny Wong, said estimates showed that up to 3.5 million tonnes of greenhouse gas could be cut from the nation’s climate change ledger if the system was adopted around the country.
Some industry estimates put the potential smart grid savings much higher.
“Smart grids are critical in the fight against climate change, as they have enormous potential to improve the efficiency of our electricity sector and transform the way we use energy in our homes and businesses,” said Senator Wong, announcing the bid winner yesterday.
The NSW plan, which is backed by the state government, IBM Australia, AGL, GE Energy, TransGrid and Newcastle City Council, beat bids from regional NSW, Queensland and Victoria. The demonstration project will run until 2013.
The managing director of Energy Australia, George Maltabarow, said about 400,000 basic, first-generation smart meters had been installed in NSW since 2006.
“They are essential if we want to de-carbonise electricity networks in Australia,” he said. “Building a smart grid is the foundation for delivering energy savings in the home that is so fundamental to the carbon pollution reduction scheme.”
The federal scheme, expected to be the main driver of investment in low-emissions power and energy efficiency, was shelved until at least 2013 after being blocked in the Senate. The government says it still intends to bring in its scheme because it would struggle to meet even its minimum target for greenhouse gas cuts – a net 5 per cent cut over the next 10 years – without it.
However, under last year’s Copenhagen Accord, Australia committed to join international efforts to hold global temperature rise to an maximum average of 2 degrees and this would be likely to require at least a 25 per cent cut in Australia’s emissions over the next decade.