BRIEF: The Rudd Government’s National Energy Initiative kicked off recently when industry consultation workshops were held in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane. The initiative comes at a time when energy and sustainability consultants are expressing growing concern over the entrenched inefficiency of the energy network (see our story).

Announced in the May Federal Budget, the National Energy Initiative involves the Rudd government investing up to $100 million in partnership with the energy sector to create a more efficient energy network.

The initiative aims to build on the Government’s investment in the National Broadband Network, household energy efficiency and renewable energy, the new Solar Credits Scheme supporting home micro-generation, and the expanded Solar Cities program.

The plan is to use smart grid technology to monitor electricity supply across distribution networks using communications networks, such as broadband technology. Smart grids help to more easily integrate renewable energy like solar and wind power into the grid, and enable energy generated in homes, schools and businesses to be stored and shared.

According to the Government, work will begin immediately to identify opportunities to demonstrate the smart grid network.

Subject to an implementation study, the demonstration project aims to lead to an integrated system of renewable energy, smart grid and smart meter technology and infrastructure in one Australian city, town or region. It will bring together electricity power generation, transmission, and distribution providers as well as private partners and IT experts.

The aim is to inform the wider national deployment of smart grid technologies.

It will also examine links with the National Broadband Network and work closely with the Ministerial Council on Energy’s National Stakeholder Steering Committee providing advice on the national smart metering program.