Post-Copenhagen roadmap debate continues in 2010

The issue of smart networks/smart grids is set to play a key role in the 2010 federal election, according to the Energy Networks Association (ENA). The Government’s $100 million ‘Smart Grid, Smart City Initiative’ and the appointment of Liberal MP Greg Hunt to Shadow Minister for Climate Action, Environment and Heritage in December will ensure the energy debate will play a part in this year’s election.

Recently appointed Shadow Minister Mr Hunt spoke of the key role renewable energy will play in achieving climate change action.

“The Coalition plan will involve practical measures that actually deliver emissions savings using technologies such as solar, wind, geothermal, energy efficiency and using the landscape through trees and soils to capture and store CO2 as carbon,” Mr Hunt said.

ENA intends to release a ‘Smart Networks Roadmap’ in early 2010.

“The ‘Roadmap’ will be a high level guide for understanding where the industry is headed, how it plans to get there and the key challenges it must overcome along the way. This key document has been possible through the valuable assistance of our members,” ENA chief executive, Andrew Blyth said.

ENA believes the development of greater network intelligence over the next 10 years will be driven by a host of long-term policy, regulatory, industry and customer factors. Substantial improvements in network reliability and operational efficiency will be required over the next five years as networks will need to accommodate high penetration rates of distributed renewable and low carbon generation sources. Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) will be needed to minimise the cost of meeting peak demand by enabling cost reflective pricing and demand response.

In December the Energy Supply Association of Australia released the Roadmap for a Low-Carbon Power Sector by 2050 report.

Written by six electricity associations through the International Electricity Summit, the roadmap report examines the technologies and policies that are required to deliver a low-carbon future.

The report states it is possible to deliver low- carbon power by 2050 through intelligent and efficient electricity generation, transmission, distribution and use with significantly increased intelligent electricity use as the driver for a secure, low-carbon energy future.

This can be done at a lower long-term total energy cost than under a business as usual scenario provided that policy action is taken to incentivise very substantial investment in large-scale uptake of renewable energies, deployment of carbon capture and storage technologies and nuclear power,” the report states.

“However, there will be limited emission reductions before 2020, with the major reductions occurring in the period 2025–2040, and therefore the current political timeframe lacks recognition of the critical timing for commercial deployment of the required low-carbon technologies.”

In the longer term, self-generation of renewable and low-carbon electricity combined with battery storage will significantly alter the need for much of the current, centralised electricity system.