EnergyAustralia to roll out 4G wireless network for smart grid


George Maltabarow,
Managing Director,
Sydney, Australia — (METERING.COM) — May 27, 2010 – EnergyAustralia is to install a 4G wireless telecommunications network to transmit two-way information between field devices, back-end systems and households as the next stage of its smart grid rollout.

This follows the successful trial of carrier-grade 4G WiMAX technology at six sites in the greater Newcastle area and two sites in Sydney.

“The 4G network will transmit data between 12,000 smart monitoring devices being installed on our electricity network, up to 3,000 mobile field computers, 200 major zone substations and our Smart Village in Newington,” said EnergyAustralia managing director George Maltabarow, adding that the network will allow communication with up to 2 million smart devices on the electricity grid.

The network will be phased in progressively across about 140 locations over about 18 months, and will be managed from a purpose built operations center.

Earlier this year, EnergyAustralia entered an agreement with Wireless Broadband Australia (WBA) to use 15 MHz of WBA’s 2.3 GHz spectrum for the company’s 4G network.
As well as trialling 4G technology, EnergyAustralia investigated RF mesh and powerline technology to determine the best option for the smart grid program.

4G sites have already been established at Gan Gan HiIl at Nelson Bay and at EnergyAustralia sites at Broadmeadow, Merewether, Mayfield West, The Hill, Wallsend, Lidcombe and Homebush.

The next sites planned are EnergyAustralia substations at Lane Cove, Leightonfield, Bass Hill and Meadowbank in Sydney.
EnergyAustralia started its smart grid program in 2006 and to date has rolled out 800 km of new fiber optic cables, installed hundreds of communications switches and deployed carrier-grade Internet Protocol (IP) technology to connect more than 200 key substations and depots. More than 4,000 smart meters have been installed and about 200,000 with first generation smart meters have time-of –use billing, and the company is now rolling out 12,000 monitoring devices throughout its electricity distribution network.

The company is also building Australia’s first smart village, with a 2-year trial involving 1,000 households in Newington and Silverwater (NSW).  A smart home is also being fitted out in Newington to test the latest energy and water efficient appliances and how renewable energy interacts with the grid.