Ausgrid joins global smart grid partnership

transmission network with rendered connection points (gridbeyond)
Image: Shutterstock

Ausgrid and electricity distribution companies from across the globe will partner to revolutionise and support communities to engage with smart grids of the future. 
Launching at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26), the University of Oxford-led initiative will bring together electricity networks and community energy groups from across the world to remove barriers to delivering net zero at a local level.

Founding partners Ausgrid, Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) Distribution and the Enel Group, through the research partner the Enel Foundation have joined with the University of Oxford to launch the International Community for Local Smart Grids (ICLSG). 

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This initiative will see community energy groups and electricity networks share key learnings from innovation projects, facilitate discussions around challenges and support a collaborative transition to a decarbonised future. 
Electricity networks, and the shift to smart grids, will be fundamental in achieving a secure, cost-effective, net-zero future, and in realising the ambitions of COP26. 
The first-of-its-kind five-year knowledge sharing partnership will explore the relationship between communities and how they engage with smart grids from Oxford to Rome, Sydney to Tokyo. 
Ausgrid CEO Richard Gross said, “We have joined the International Community for Local Smart Grids so we can collaborate with some of the best minds in the world to develop innovative, sustainable and affordable solutions for our customers.
“It is clear that our climate is changing. We have more extreme weather events more often like the devastating 2020 bushfires. It’s up to us to work together to reach net zero as soon as possible.
“At Ausgrid we’re privileged to service a pristine part of the world. From Sydney’s beautiful beaches through to the lush forests and farmlands in the Hunter Valley and Central Coast. Our goal as an organisation is to help ensure our children, and our children’s children can continue to enjoy this unique environment.
“Transitioning customers to net zero through use of Smart Grids allows technologies like solar PV, community batteries, or electric vehicles to be used in a coordinated, sustainable and affordable way.” 
The partnership will be launched to a global audience at the United Nations Climate Change Conference on November 2.
Community energy groups will have a critical role in the partnership, guiding and informing discussions to ensure the challenges and opportunities discussed reflect lived experience. The successful delivery of smart grids hinges on the ability of households and businesses to participate. 
Japan’s TEPCO Power Grid is the first Network Partner to join the ICLSG, demonstrating the partnership is global in breadth and local in focus. 
Realising global climate targets will require a fundamental shift in how homes are heated and cooled, how journeys are powered, and how communities interact with the energy system that serves them. 

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To support this shift, electricity networks are investing and innovating to deliver smart grids to support households using, generating, and altering their energy usage to save money, reduce their carbon footprint and support energy system resilience. 
Different locations are facing different challenges at different times; Ausgrid is currently investing in community batteries to support a significant increase in solar panels, while SSEN is exploring how to cost-effectively manage a rapid increase in electric vehicle ownership in densely populated cities. 
This partnership will facilitate the sharing of key learnings, while the University of Oxford will undertake original research into shared challenges and opportunities in delivering net zero locally.

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