Meeting the information needs of a new era of decentralised energy
The Institute for Sustainable Futures, in collaboration with Energy Networks Australia, has developed free online maps of Australia’s electricity network. The Network Opportunity Maps help to inform the market about locations where investment in demand management and renewable energy may reduce the need to invest in poles and wires assets, supporting the uptake of local sustainable energy options, and reduce costs for all consumers.
The latest maps, released on 31st October 2017, include refreshed datasets for all network businesses in the Australian National Electricity Market (NEM), and have added invaluable new layers indicating how much new generation – such as new solar and wind farms – can be connected to the grid in each area, making it faster and easier for communities and renewable energy investors to locate and size new projects.
The 2017 map release is the culmination of a three-year ISF research project. While the maps continue to live on the Australian Renewable Energy Mapping Infrastructure (AREMI) platform, Energy Networks Australia now takes over ongoing production of the Maps with its member organisations. UTS and ARENA are excited to hand the maps over as a mainstream industry resource, and have signed a three-way Collaborative Agreement to guide the future production and further development of the maps.
To receive a copy of the Collaborative Agreement, contact Energy Networks Australia here.
The latest maps include new layers and a host of new improvements:
- New “generation connection opportunities” layers showing the indicative capacity of the network to accept new distributed power plants. (Direct view link)
- Peak day load curve information for most zones and constrained network assets in the National Electricity Market (Direct view link)
- New visualisation of proposed network investment visualisation according to constraint season, investment driver and asset type (Direct view link)
- Constraint data down to the distribution feeder level for AusNet Services (eastern Victoria) (Direct view link)
- The maps are also updated to cover the load forecast and investmcent planning period Winter 2016- Summer 2025/26 (current to Annual Planning Reports of December 2016 for distribution and July 2017 for Transmission)
Download supporting information
What was the problem?
In order for a robust market for demand management or distributed energy to develop in areas where it provides network benefit, it requires clear, consistent and easily accessible data about network constraints, costs and potentially avoidable investments. Without this access to information the market is unable to invest in a timely cost effective manner to support a reduction in traditional network investment.
While electricity network businesses annually report capacity and constraint data, this information is often difficult to interpret for those without specialised skills, or is missing key pieces of information. This information is produced in different formats across the NEM and often lacks sufficient geographical and network support value data to be useful from a decentralised energy project proponent’s perspective.
What is the solution?
The project uses the Dynamic Avoidable Network Cost Evaluation (DANCE) model developed by ISF as part of the Intelligent Grid research program. ISF has previously applied the DANCE model for mapping Decentralised Energy for Victoria and for rural areas of the NEM suitable for concentrating solar power (www.breakingthesolargridlock.net).
ISF has developed a streamlined process to collect data provided by the electricity network businesses annually, which is fed into the DANCE model to produce the Network Opportunity Maps on the Australian Renewable Energy Mapping Infrastructure (AREMI) platform.
The maps identify and provide information on areas of network constraint, planned investment and the potential value of decentralised energy resources in networks across the NEM. They:
- Identify the most valuable locations to invest in renewable energy and demand management across the grid
- Improve the transparency and accessibility of information about development of the electricity grid in a consistent and easily accessible format that was not previously available
- Help the community and the emerging market of new energy service providers to better evaluate opportunities to improve the operation of the grid
- Help to build the market for demand management
- Prepare network businesses and market participants for a new collaborative era of grid management, involving many third party service providers
- Help to deliver better value and benefits to all electricity consumers
Map of Sydney showing where value could be achieved in deferring network investments.
Three year project: 2014-2017
Network Opportunity Maps Project Manager, Ed Langham, presenting about the maps at the Networks 2016 conference in Adelaide.
Partners: The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) provides funding support. The project receives additional funding from NSW Department of Industry, Ergon Energy, UTS, Energy Networks Australia, AusNet Services and Powerlink, and is supported by ElectraNet and TransGrid.
Data Providers: The maps have been developed in collaboration with all transmission and distribution network businesses in the National Electricity Market, who have generously committed their time and expertise to provide data and refine the maps.
Online host: The mapping data is currently hosted on the AREMI platform by Geoscience Australia, which has been developed with funding support from ARENA, and managed by CSIRO’s digital innovation group, Data61.
Industry map production: As of October 2017, Energy Networks Australia has formally taken over the production of the Network Opportunity Maps from UTS. This arrangement is formalised in a Collaborative Agreement between Energy Networks Australia, UTS and ARENA.
Map of Sydney showing where to expect investment.
- Networks map for a smarter, more decentralised grid (ENA media release), 31 October 2017
- National renewable energy map more valuable than ever, (ARENA media release) 27 July 2016
New maps identify opportunities for renewable energy investment, 8 October 2015
Government invests in maps of electricity grid to drive renewables investment (Minister for the Environment, media releases) 8 October 2015
- Mapping project reveals renewable opportunities, Utility magazine
- Australia invests in interactive maps of electricity grid, Enterpriseinnovation.net, 13 October 2015
- Government maps out renewable energy investment opportunities, Business Environment News, 12 October 2015
- Renewables mapping tool to boost investment, add value to NEM, Renew Economy, 9 October 2015
- New Maps To Help Guide Australian Renewables Investment, Energy Matters, 9 October 2015
- The map which shows batteries are a waste of time in NSW and QLD, Business Spectator, 9 October 2015
- To-the-point: Australia rolls out renewables investment roadmap, SeeNews Renewables, 8 October 2015
- Electricity mapping tool to boost renewable, stop gold-plating, Renew Economy, 5 November 2014
- Grid maps to 'boost renewables': ARENA, Climate Spectator, 17 October 2014.
- Launch of the Network Opportunity Maps at the Clean Energy Summit, 27 July 2016
- Presentation to Energy Networks 2016
- Project summary
If you are interested in the Network Opportunity Mapping project, Energy Networks Australia are open to interest and feedback relating to the maps.
To subscribe to the project newsletter mailing list to receive updates about the project and be first to know about public map releases, click here.
If you would like to provide further in-depth feedback on the sample maps, please contact us.
To find out more about the project:
Ed Langham, E: Edward.Langham@uts.edu.au T: +61 2 9514 4971