Science and Technology

Network opportunity maps open window to clean, local energy future

New interactive maps that show the most valuable locations to invest in renewable energy, battery storage and demand management in the Australian electricity grid are being launched in Sydney at the Clean Energy Summit.

The Network Opportunity Maps, developed by researchers at the UTS Institute for Sustainable Futures (ISF), and hosted on CSIRO’s Data61 Australian Renewable Energy Mapping Infrastructure (AREMI) platform, illustrate areas in the electricity grid where future demand for power is forecast to exceed supply capacity.

The free and publicly available online maps will help to lower electricity bills by both supporting the growing market for decentralised energy resources and optimising grid infrastructure investments, ISF Research Director Chris Dunstan said.

“Last year we released sample Network Opportunity Maps that presented some data from the electricity network businesses,” Mr Dunstan said.

“The new comprehensive Network Opportunity Maps released give a fuller and clearer picture of the opportunities for investment for the period to 2025.”

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) is providing $453,000 funding to support the development of the maps. ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht said AREMI was a priceless tool for finding out where renewable energy can add the most value in the National Electricity Market.

“AREMI helps project developers and researchers find the best opportunities for renewable energy in Australia and is speeding up the transition to a low carbon energy system,” Mr Frischknecht said.

“The expanded Network Opportunity Maps show where energy demand is expected to outstrip supply. These are often locations where renewables offer an alternative to extra poles and wires and can reduce power prices whilst increasing network stability.”

The Hon. Anthony Roberts, Minister for Industry, Resources and Energy, said, “The NSW Government recognises the value in the Network Opportunity Maps in supporting new energy technologies and services in a rapidly evolving electricity market.”

The project manager for the Network Opportunity Maps, ISF Research Principal Ed Langham said, “The maps aim to improve the efficiency of grid operation and build the market for demand management.”

“We are continuously exploring how to improve the maps to provide more and better information to help develop the network of the future, which will include high levels of renewable and local energy generation.”

In addition to ARENA, the project is receiving funding support from NSW Department of Industry, Ergon Energy and UTS. ElectraNet, Transgrid and Energy Networks Association are also supporting the project.

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