The Network Opportunity Maps (NOMs) provide transparent and up to date information to identify opportunities for distributed generation, energy storage and other non-network solutions to address network capacity constraints and reduce costs for customers.
The Institute for Sustainable Futures (ISF) at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) led development of the interactive maps to consolidate information on current and future capacity constraints in electricity network infrastructure across Australia based on network planning report data.
Electricity Networks have reported this data for some time in their Distribution Annual Planning Reports (DAPRs), however this information is difficult to interpret. The maps represent a commitment from networks to make this information more transparent.
The first, full, interactive iteration of the maps are now available and includes spatial data from all electricity network businesses on network constraints, planned investment and the potential value of distributed energy resources to provide network services across the Australian National Electricity Market (NEM).
Figure 1 – A screenshot from the NOM showing Available Capacity
The Network Opportunity Maps help to inform the market about locations where investment in demand management and renewable energy may reduce the need to invest in poles and wires assets, supporting the uptake of local sustainable energy options, and reduce costs for all consumers.
The maps will make it easier for networks and proponents of non-network alternatives to network investment to develop a common understanding of the potential value of reducing peak electricity demand in different parts of the network. By consolidating this information, the project aims to build the market for distributed energy resources and reduce costs for all customers and help electricity networks identify opportunities to avoid additional network investment.
Importantly, the maps can assist non-network service providers to identify opportunities for developing distributed generation and storage and other non‑network solutions.
Latest updates and upgrades to the NOM funded and supported by Energy Networks Australia
Energy Networks Australia has funded an enhancement to the map coding developed by ISF.
As a result of the continued technical input from networks, the maps have gradually evolved since the platform was first developed. As a result, the updated software allows updates to be more efficiently maintained.
The changes to the software also include many improvements, a number of which minimise future resource requirements and the costs of data collections by streamlining validation of input data and by providing readable data error reports. These enhancements, have now been completed by ISF, will make it easier for Networks to upload, check and correct their data before future updates of data for release onto the AREMI website.
Development of the NOM
The three‑year project to develop the maps received assistance under the ARENA Emerging Renewables program. Funding and in‐kind support was provided by the NSW Department of Industry, Ergon Energy (now Energy Queensland), UTS, TransGrid, and ElectraNet.
The project has been guided by a Strategic Reference Group, which included representatives from:
- The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO);
- The Australian Energy Regulator (AER);
- The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA);
- The Department of Industry (DOI); and
- Network operators, Transgrid, ElectraNet, Ausgrid, Ergon Energy, Energex and United Energy.
All networks operating in the Australian electricity market have supported the development of these latest maps by providing detailed data to populate the maps.
Data for the Maps
The majority of data presented in the Network Opportunity Maps already exists in the network annual planning reports, but makes this data more visible and meaningful for those seeking to understand areas of opportunity to provide network services or connecting new sources of renewable generation. A critical objective of networks supporting these maps is to provide required data in a standardised format on an ongoing basis to allow the maps to be updated annually.
The first comprehensive versions of the Network Opportunity Maps, released on 27th July 2016, and updated with transmission data in January 2017, include complete geographic datasets for all network businesses in the Australian National Electricity Market (NEM). These update and improve on the Sample Maps released in 2015.