The Australian government is launching a A$100m tender for smart grid projects in the country, but at least one commentator notes that few energy companies have shown interest in the topic, according to a report in our partner publications, Communications Day.
The joint announcement by the ministers in the communications, environment and energy sectors calls for bids for smart grid projects by late January 2010. The announcement follows the allocation of US$3.4bn in stimulus grants for smart grids by the US Department of Energy last week.
Environment minister, Peter Garrett, said that smart grids are estimated to bring both economic and environmental benefits for Australia if implemented, including an estimated minimum reduction of 3.5 mega-tonnes of carbon emissions per year. Communications minister Stephen Conroy added that smart grids will be part of the benefit that the planned, A$47 billion national broadband network will bring to the country. “The smart grid project is an important start point as we move to ensure Australia gains maximum value from our broadband investments,” Conroy said.
Despite the government’s view on the benefits of smart grids, former shadow communications minister, Bruce Billson told CommsDay that there is little interest in the market for such initiatives at present. Billson, pointing to a recent survey of 35 executives from the energy sector, noted that only three out of the 35 said they had smart grid plans in place. Smart grid is being met with a “sea of indifference,” he said.
Smart grids projects are underway in Australia, but they are being built by utilities on their own, separately from the telecommunications industry, according to a presentation by Dr Chris Pavlovski from IBM at the recent CommsDay Melbourne Congress