New maps of the Australian electricity grid have been released to support more reliable, cleaner and local energy solutions.

In a collaboration between research agencies, government and industry, the Network Opportunity Maps provide detailed information to encourage local renewable energy, battery storage and smart demand management in the Australian electricity grid.

“Energy Networks are excited about the potential for these maps to help build a smarter and more reliable grid, enabling alignment of customer assets to avoid spending more on poles and wires in the future,” Energy Networks Australia interim CEO, Andrew Dillon, said.

Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) CEO, Ivor Frischknecht, said better information about the grid will help develop vibrant markets for new energy services.

“The Network Opportunity Maps complement the forthcoming Demand Management Incentive Scheme for network businesses, and ARENA’s three-year demand response trial projects. These initiatives should lead to creative solutions to reduce network costs and improve grid reliability,” Mr Frischknecht said.

ISF Research Director, Chris Dunstan, said “this is where the sharing economy meets the electricity sector”.

“The Network Opportunity Maps will identify areas of emerging constraint in the grid. These may be areas where businesses and residential customers can use their own energy resources, like solar, batteries, and smart energy management to support the network and be rewarded for it,” Mr Dunstan said.

The new maps include the latest network investment and load forecast data and indicate how much new generation – such as new solar and wind farms – can be connected in each area.

Minister for Resources, Energy and Utilities, Don Harwin, said, the NSW Government was proud to have supported the Network Opportunity Maps.

“I’m excited that this resource will make it easier to choose the right location and size of clean energy projects,” Mr Harwin said.

“The maps will help drive investment in regional NSW, and improve the grid whilst reducing network costs for consumers.”

The map launch is the culmination of a three-year research project by the Institute for Sustainable Futures (ISF) at UTS in collaboration with Energy Networks Australia.

The maps were developed with support from ARENA, the NSW Government, CSIRO and industry partners including Ergon Energy, AusNet Services, Powerlink, ElectraNet and Transgrid.

Energy Networks Australia will be responsible for ongoing management of the maps.

Energy Queensland CEO, David Smales, said that the Ergon Energy network business was proud to have been a founding partner of the Network Opportunity Maps.

“Geospatial mapping and the provision of richer sources of information enable us to engage and interact with our customers in a more efficient and dynamic way to support the development of sustainable energy solutions for Queensland communities,” Mr Smales said. 

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