Four finalists for network innovation award

Wednesday, 21 November, 2018

Four finalists for network innovation award

Essential Energy, Evoenergy, Jemena and TasNetworks have been announced by Energy Networks Australia as the four finalists for the 2018 Industry Innovation Award.

Energy Networks Australia CEO Andrew Dillon said: “The award recognises leadership in the design, development and application of a groundbreaking Australian energy network initiative, technology, service or solution.”

The judging panel reviewed 12 applications that demonstrated how networks are finding new ways to solve some of the complex challenges in the energy industry, and this does not necessarily involve technology.

“As you would expect, several finalists have used technology to help them innovate, but sometimes an innovative solution can be a simple, non-technology focused way to improve how a network does business,” Dillon explained.

Essential Energy has been named a finalist for its Quality Assurance Lab, which is a testing laboratory for electricity network equipment that is helping save a significant amount of money.

“Field teams identified a need to test materials more thoroughly than manufacturing compliance standards to ensure they can stand up to the environmental conditions they were exposed to,” Dillon said.

He continued by describing the premise as simple and pragmatic, but stated its impact has been huge, with the lab contributing more than $95 million of value over the past five years. “Developed on a shoestring budget and with staff donating their time to initially set up the lab, the Quality Assurance Lab is now a permanent business operation.”

Evoenergy was recognised for helping reduce demand using the ACT Virtual Power Plant. Developed in partnership with Reposit Power and SolarHub, the plant is the first and largest of its kind in the world.

“Made up of more than 400 residential battery storage systems, the virtual power plant involves a number of technology providers and can remotely control the VPP to dispatch stored electricity back into the network when required,” Dillon said.

“Along with other demand management strategies, the initiatives have proven how they can help futureproof the grid by having large and small customers able to respond at a moment’s notice to reduce the impact on the wider community.”

The third finalist is Jemena, whose Power Changers demand response trial provided incentives to energy users to reduce their electricity consumption during peak times on hot days. More than 600 households signed up to the trial, which reduced average peak electricity consumption on hot days by between 23 and 35% and provided rich behavioural insights that will help inform future demand response programs, according to Dillon.

“Participants expressed a high level of satisfaction and reported feeling motivated to reduce their electricity usage, saving money on their electricity bill and motivated to be more conscious about conserving electricity.”

Finally, TasNetworks is in the running for the 2018 Industry Innovation Award for its CONSORT Bruny Island battery trial. This helped 34 customers install solar generation and a battery on their homes to test the ability of distributed generation as an alternative to a diesel generator during periods of peak holiday demand.

“The trial has shown how a modest number of residential PV and battery systems are able to provide a disproportionately large benefit to the grid,” Dillon said. “Diesel usage is down by about 30%, but more generally, the project delivers optimisation of distributed energy resources, which increases grid reliability.”

Five innovative projects have also been shortlisted in the Energy Networks Australia and Energy Consumers Australia 2018 Consumer Engagement Award, including: Essential Energy’s Customer Engagement Regulatory Proposal; SA Power Networks’ Deep Dive Workshop program; TransGrid’s Powering Sydney’s Future project; Victorian electricity distribution businesses joint consultation on Network Pricing Design; and Western Power’s Kalbarri microgrid.

The winners of the awards will be announced at the Energy Networks Australia Annual Dinner on Tuesday, 27 November.

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