Distributed energy has critical role to play in Australia’s energy future


Mayfield West, Australia — (METERING.COM) — February 12, 2010 – A new energy supply model with decentralized generation, decentralized decision making and active consumer input has the potential to create highly resilient energy supply systems in Australia, according to a recent report from the CSIRO.

The report, “Intelligent Grid: A value proposition for distributed energy in Australia,” finds that distributed energy, which collectively encompasses demand side management, energy efficiency and distributed generation, has a significant role to play in a carbon constrained future. On the basis of technology characteristics and cost competitiveness distributed generation can significantly increase its share of energy supply in the near term and as such has a bridging role in transitioning from the current coal dominated system while large scale renewable and near-zero carbon capture and storage technologies are either too expensive or unproven.

The report is aimed at identifying the potential contribution of distributed generation in reducing greenhouse gas emissions in Australia and how that potential can be realized, and finds that over the period 2006-2050 the undiscounted value of distributed energy is around Au$800 billion (US$713 billion). For comparison the current gross domestic product in real terms is around Au$1,100 billion (US$980 billion).

However, realizing the value of distributed energy in an efficient way depends on many conditions being met, says the report. These include the commercial viability of distributed energy as an alternative to mains grid supply, long term policy and regulatory security to give confidence to investors and implementers of distributed energy, education of consumers, industry and government on the value of distributed energy, and technology and market development that is focussed on reducing cost and improving reliability.

The report says many of Australia’s centralized supply infrastructure assets are either in need or in the process of renewal. With centralized generation becoming increasingly more expensive and with technological development that allows the use of heat for cooling well suited to the country’s climate, Australia is well positioned to increase its penetration of distributed energy as an alternative to centralized generation.