Country Energy, manager of Australia’s largest power network, today announced a global collaboration with IBM aimed at developing and deploying an Intelligent Network in Australia.
As part of the announcement, Country Energy has become the first utility outside of the United States to join the Intelligent Utility Network Coalition, a global group of companies working with IBM to accelerate the adoption of ‘smart grid’ technologies and business solutions.
An Intelligent Utility Network is a digital, open standards-based network of sensors, metering, communications, computer processors, and analytics which connects an entire utility company — from power plant to plug. These connected systems provide a utility with near real-time data and information to better manage the grid infrastructure, enabling fewer and shorter power outages, improved customer service, and the ability to source and deliver power more efficiently, including renewable energy.
“Climate change and cost of living fears have made families and businesses keener than ever to control their energy and water use,” said Craig Murray, Country Energy’s managing director. “At the same time, Australia’s power grids are beginning to show their age — we need a blueprint to renew those grids as more efficient and responsive Intelligent Networks. We need to put the digital age to work for our network customers — by 2020, Intelligent Networks need to do for essential services what the Internet has done for information,” Mr Murray added.
IBM and Country Energy are focusing on developing solutions that are specific to Australian conditions and electricity networks, and which will enable small renewable generators to interact with the network.
In the coming weeks, Country Energy and IBM will unveil a dedicated Intelligent Network research and education center at Queanbeyan, near Canberra, to demonstrate how smart grid technologies and solutions can benefit businesses, consumers and the environment. The Centre will focus on the operational and societal benefits of a smart grid, and will be made available for visits by regulators, policy makers, environmentalists, industry and customers.
Before the end of 2008, Country Energy will announce the location for an ‘Intelligent Network community’ to practically demonstrate day-to-day Intelligent Network applications for around 10,000 customers in regional New South Wales.
IBM has tapped its wide range of energy industry business consultants and technology experts to develop an Intelligent Network blueprint in close collaboration with Country Energy. The two companies will also work together on the design and build of the Intelligent Network research and education centre, including vendor evaluation and solution design. IBM and Country Energy support the development of ‘open platform’ solutions to deliver intelligent networks — meaning that the technology benefits will be as widely accessible as possible.