Can Western Australia get smart on energy use?

Jun 20, 2013
Can Western Australia get smart on energy use?

A Murdoch University researcher has examined the benefits and challenges of adopting Smart Meters in Western Australia as the state's peak energy use continues to rise.

Dr Samuel Gyamfi from the School of Engineering and Information Technology said this upward trend would have economic, social and for the state unless steps were taken to moderate .

He said data on Smart Meter use in other cities revealed they were an effective way to achieve by households, but that relying on pricing alone to modify consumption behaviour was not enough.

" are effective in conveying real-time information about the state of the grid and can inform efficient use of energy for residential homes. But expecting households to reduce their use with pricing signals is not enough, as roughly 40 per cent of households don't respond to cost," Dr Gyamfi said.

"To realise optimal energy savings, especially during peak times, the social, environmental and long-term economic benefits of reducing energy demand have to be communicated to consumers."

Dr Gyamfi said this messaging was needed in WA, citing data which showed a clearly increasing trend in peak energy use, which would have consequences in the growing state if left unaddressed.

"Environmentally, high demand during peak times is typically accommodated through more carbon-intensive forms of production, including diesel generation. There is a direct relationship between peak demand and environmental emissions in nearly all power supply networks," Dr Gyamfi said.

"In terms of energy security, grid failure could become an issue, especially with a rapidly expanding population. Data from the public campaign following California's energy crisis in 2001 shows that consumers do respond when informed about how their usage affects grid stability.

"From a long-term economic perspective, infrastructure cannot be expanded indefinitely, which means major investment at some point."

At the same time, Dr Gyamfi said the cost of installing Smart Meters stood to be very high, and how they would be financed and by whom would be a political issue.

As for supplementing the grid, he said that while the state and federal solar rebate schemes had a flattening effect on the rise in use in WA in 2010 and 2011, solar power in residential homes could not solve the problem.

"Solar power is positive for energy security in WA, but peak usage generally falls between five and seven pm, which is when people are returning home to cook and turn on lights and appliances such as air conditioners.

"Unfortunately, this isn't the optimal time for solar production."

'Residential peak electricity demand response – Highlights of some behavioural issues' involved Murdoch University and the University of Canterbury (NZ) and can be found here.

Explore further: Cook farm waste into energy

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Power to the people, by the people

Jun 12, 2013

European researchers are investigating 'smarter' solutions to meet growing demand for electricity and fundamental changes in the way power is produced and consumed.

'Smart grid' would save energy, cut costs for US consumers

Jan 05, 2011

Momentum is building for a new energy "smart grid" that would overhaul the U.S.'s 100-year-old electrical power network. The impact would be huge –– from installation of a new web of electrical transmission lines ...

Power grid getting smarter with big battery

Jun 03, 2013

(Phys.org) —Research conducted with a large new battery unveiled today in Oregon will help make the Northwest's and the nation's electric system smarter and more efficient, officials said at a ribbon-cutting ...

Recommended for you

Website shines light on renewable energy resources

5 hours ago

A team from the University of Arizona and eight southwestern electric utility companies have built a pioneering web portal that provides insight into renewable energy sources and how they contribute to the ...

Better software cuts computer energy use

6 hours ago

An EU research project is developing tools to help software engineers create energy-efficient code, which could reduce electricity consumption at data centres by up to 50% and improve battery life in smart ...

Cook farm waste into energy

Dec 17, 2014

It takes some cooking, but turning farm waste into biofuels is now possible and makes economic sense, according to preliminary research from the University of Guelph.

Developing a reliable wind 'super grid' for Europe

Dec 17, 2014

EU researchers are involved in the development of a pan-European 'super grid' capable of dispersing wind power across Member States. This will bring more renewable energy into homes and businesses, help reduce ...

Boeing 737 factory to move to clean energy

Dec 16, 2014

Boeing said Tuesday it plans to buy renewable energy credits to replace fossil-fuel power at the factory in Washington state where it assembles its 737 commercial airplanes.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.