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Australia sees large scale success with smart grid deployment

By Donna Donnowitz
January 30, 2014

After spending about A$100 million on a trial of smart grid technologies, as well as several other innovations for national infrastructure, the Federal Government's Auditor-General published a report noting the overall success of the endeavor. According to Delimiter, the national plan was developed in 2009, then the tests begun, was to develop a smart and more efficient energy network for the nation. Set in motion by Communications Minister Stephen Conroy, the strategy received funding and was awarded to NSW energy utility firm EnergyAustralia - which since became Ausgrid - in partnership with IBM, GE EnergyAustralia, AGL Energy, Sydney Water Corporation, Hunter Water Australia and Newcastle City Council.

"The technology will allow residents to see real-time analysis of electricity usage for their households and even for individual appliances, to help them make better decisions about energy efficiency in their homes and minimize their environmental impact," IBM said regarding the strategy, according to the news source. "The smart grid demonstration will also test real-time, complex information about grid performance in order to improve control over the network for Australian energy transmission and distribution companies."

Five years later, the plan has been largely a success, the Federal Auditor-General announced.

Energy resource management, the deployment of electric vehicle support and other grid-side applications all saw great success "in accordance with the fund agreement," the news source noted. And while other areas, such as technology issues, customer resistance to smart meters and difficulties with securing an electricity partner for the study fell short, it is considered to be an overall success.

Studies and projects of this scope are important to the smart grid industry because they help demonstrate the viability and benefits of deploying a system. Energy providers across the globe can take a lesson from Australia's playbook and consider their own investments, but more importantly learn from the mistakes that Australia made. Issues, such as integrating the appropriate terminal server hardware or pushing support of smart meters to customers will play a critical role in the success of a smart grid rollout.

From having the right serial to Ethernet converters to even landing the right amount of funding, various factors have to be in place for smart grid success, but continued testing of such solutions can help firms optimize their strategies for the future.

Perle offers a range of cost effective serial-to-Ethernet converters to help meet NERC-CIP compliance for the protection of critical cyberassets in substations. The IOLAN SDS HV/LDC Terminal Server is designed to meet harsh environments associated with Power Substations with attributes such as support for substation AC and DC voltage ranges, extended operating temperatures and meeting emission, immunity and safety approvals associated with substation IT equipment.


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