Meeting the information needs of a new era of decentralised energy
The UTS Institute for Sustainable Futures, in collaboration with Energy Networks Australia, 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.
From July 2017, Energy Networks Australia took over ongoing production of the Maps with its member organisations, under a three-way Collaborative Agreement with UTS and ARENA to guide the future production and further development of the maps. To receive a copy of the Collaborative Agreement, contact Energy Networks Australia.
The latest maps, released in June 2019, include refreshed datasets for distribution network businesses in the Australian National Electricity Market (NEM). The maps are updated to cover the load forecast and investment planning period 2019 -2018 (current to Annual Planning Reports of December 2018 for distribution and July 2018 for Transmission).
The next data update will be in the next half of 2019 for transmission businesses, and in the first half of 2020 for distribution businesses.
Access the Network Opportunity Maps
via the ENA website
The maps still include a number of new layers released in 2017:
- New “generation connection opportunities” layers showing the indicative capacity of the network to accept new distributed power plants (, making it faster and easier for communities and renewable energy investors to locate and size new projects.
- Peak day load curve information for most zones and constrained network assets in the National Electricity Market ()
- New visualisation of proposed network investment visualisation according to , and ()
Download supporting information
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.
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
ISF research team
Network Opportunity Maps Project Manager, Ed Langham, presenting about the maps at the Networks 2016 conference in Adelaide.
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.
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.
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, please contact:
Ed Langham, E: Edward.Langham@uts.edu.au T: +61 2 9514 4971