Transpower releases long-term view New Zealand grid

Transpower has released Transmission Tomorrow, a look at the challenges and opportunities facing the electricity industry throughout the next five to 40 years.

Like Australia, the New Zealand power system is on the cusp of significant change: new technologies are emerging, the electricity sector is evolving and society is changing.

Transpower chief executive Alison Andrew said, like any business, Transpower has developed a realistic view of the future to ensure it continues to provide attractive, cost-effective services that meet customers’ changing needs.

“The services we provide are easy to take for granted – nearly everyone in New Zealand is connected to the National Grid. The power system has always been part of modern life,” she said.

“However, increasingly electricity consumers have an expanding range of options for meeting their energy needs – combine this with changing societal factors, new technologies getting more affordable and sophisticated, continual changes in energy generation and relatively flat demand growth – there is increasing uncertainty in the near future for the electricity industry.

“Ultimately, the power system of tomorrow will be radically different to what it is today.”

Battery and other storage technologies installed within homes and businesses, vehicles, distribution networks, and grid substations could fundamentally alter how the power system is operated by covering short-term power imbalances in supply and demand, according to Transmission Tomorrow.

“That could change the core role of the grid. We currently make many investment and operational decisions on providing 24/7 reliability of supply. In the future, you could see this change, as we become more of a charging service for batteries, or a pathway for new technologies. This essentially moves the transmission service from one of reliability to resilience,” Ms Andrew said.

“Given the makeup of New Zealand’s power system, however, where much of our low-cost renewable generation is located far from where the major load centres are, there will always be a need for a strong transmission grid.

“While we expect significant changes in the future, we will still be in the business of prudently and safely managing long-lived assets and complex systems that provide essential service to New Zealand communities, households and businesses,” she said