Australian smart grid investments at a standstill

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Some Australian utilities have already invested in their smart grid implementations, but are hesitant to go any further.

So far, their real-world smart grid application pilots have proved unsatisfactory and leave questions regarding payback periods. As a result, smart grid growth in Australia will be stymied, according to Frost & Sullivan.

The news is not all bad, however. Frost says that demand is likely to pick up after 2015 as power companies experiment and improve roll-out results.

"The disaggregated structure of the Australian power transmission, distribution and retail industries poses a challenge for smart grid deployment," said Frost & Sullivan Energy & Power Systems Senior Consultant Sarah Wang. "While power distribution companies owned by the state governments actively encourage consumers to reduce peaks in energy demand, privately-owned retail companies build peaking generators to meet energy demand, thus inhibiting the full utilization of smart grids."

An even bigger smart grid challenge is that there is not one-size-fits-all solution.

"Vendors must collaborate closely with utilities and actively experiment with various solutions, installing sensors and monitors at substation transformers and poles. Resorting to pay-as-you-go meters instead of selling off-the-shelf solutions is another option," said Wang. "They need to examine and enhance existing infrastructure, including automating networks using supervisory control and data acquisition and communication systems."

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