Solar Panels and Smart-Grids!

What really are Smart Grids, what is Australia doing about it and what does it mean for the solar panels installed on your roof?

Wikipedia defines the word “Smart-Grid” as:

“A smart grid delivers electricity from suppliers to consumers using two-way digital technology to control appliances at consumers’ homes to save energy, reduce cost and increase reliability and transparency.”

Others like the Center for Energy and Environmental Markets see “Smart-Grids” as:

“Coordinated, decentralized investment in and operation of distributed energy resources to deliver net societal benefits from an industry requiring significant low-carbon transformation.”

So you might be asking whats the problem that ‘Smart Grids’ are fixing and what does the solar panel on your roof have to do with this?

Well, the shift from centralized power stations to decentralized power stations is seen as something that will help the Electricity Industry in becoming more efficient in delivering power to homes around the country. By shifting to a demand-sided approach, instead of the supply-sided focus used today, all stakeholders will benefit from better optimization of investments for generation and network infrastructure as well as no more centralized black-outs.

Thus, by installing Solar Panels on rooftops across Australia, Australian homes are acting as potential solutions (micro-generation units) for the demand-sided approach of the electricity distribution model. Obviously there is a lot more that needs to be done, like network augmentation, other solutions for generation and the creation of ‘the informed user’, but here are some other interesting demand-side approaches that are being looked at in Australia:

ETSA Air Conditioning Trial

A trial to manage the usage of air conditioning to reduce load during the summer, without sacrificing thermal comfort.

Smart Grid Smart City

Plans for full scale adoption in several cities around Australia.

Written by Prateek Chourdia

MEngSc – Photovoltaics and Solar Energy, UNSW

Solar Energy Analyst

Solar Choice

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The Center for Energy and Environmental Markets at UNSW

“Smart Grid”