Four consortia put in some high quality bids for the Smart Grid, Smart City pilot project last week. The Federal Government will announce the winning bid in April, with funds to be released in July 2010.

The pilot, announced in the May 2009 Federal Budget as part of the government’s National Energy Efficiency Intitiative, will be used to gather data and garner lessons for wider use of smart grid technology. The winning consortium will receive $100 million in funding to establish a smart grid project.

A Queensland consortium includes the Queensland government, energy companies Ergon and Energex, the CSIRO, universities and Korean government-owned electricity giant KEPCO.

When announcing the bid, Queensland Energy Minister Stephen Robertson said two key parts of the bid include a solar thermal storage technology pilot project and a trial for connecting solar photo-voltaics to the power grid.

The bid proposes to build a large-scale demonstration Smart Grid-Smart City project in Townsville, with several standalone projects at Zillmere in Brisbane’s north and Toowoomba.

Victoria’s bid, the Smart Grid, Smart City in Frankston is being led by power companies United Energy and Jemena, energy retailer AGL and consulting and technology services company Accenture, with support from Frankston City Council, several universities and consumer advocacy groups.

According to the Victorian government, the project would reshape the way power is used by and delivered to Frankston residents.

“Under the program, the local supermarket car park could have charging stations for electric cars,” Victorian energy and resources minister Peter Batchelor said in a statement. 

“Neighbourhood solar panels could supply a local street with power in times of high energy demand, such as a hot summer’s day, while software allowing homes to store electricity for air-conditioning in batteries would also be tested,” 

“Some households would be able to control home appliances remotely, with trials of mobile phone and internet applications allowing people to turn appliances on and off no matter where they are.”

In NSW, a consortium led by EnergyAustralia includes Newcastle City Council which has a number of existing energy efficient projects under its belt already including ClmateCam, Together Today, Earth Hour and the Power Saver Challenge.

Details of the fourth bid were unavailable when The Fifth Estate contacted the Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts.

A departmental spokesperson said an independent assessment panel will be appointed to assess applications and a probity advisor has been appointed to provide probity advice before and during the selection process and to ensure that all applications are assessed fairly.

lblundell@thefifthestate.com.au