Smart grids and smart engagement in the spotlight

That’s a wrap!

Energy Networks Australia’s annual award program has concluded for another year. The submissions for 2021 saw a strong emphasis on integrating distributed energy resources and renewable gas into networks, with businesses working to deliver a smarter, cleaner energy grid.

More than ever businesses are integrating consumer engagement into business practice and allowing it inform decisions about what a customer wants and needs rather than assuming outcomes from the outset.

We take a look at the winning submissions and how they are transforming the energy grid.

Innovation in the sunshine state

Queensland electricity distributors Ergon Energy Network and Energex (part of Energy Queensland) took out top gong for the 2021 Energy Network Industry Innovation Award.

The judging panel was headed up by Energy Networks Australia General Manager Networks Jill Cainey and included members from market bodies, thought leaders and policy makers.

The winning project is an Australian-first implementation of a digital system to generate a complete and consistent picture of the operational state of the grid. By creating a real time snapshot of the grid, the system supports the integration of distributed energy resources (DER) such as rooftop solar PV so more customers can export solar, voltage impacts on the grid can be mitigated and power quality can be improved.

The new system was recognised for delivering innovative, data-driven solutions to the challenges the massive growth of rooftop solar was presenting for Queensland’s electricity system.

The ground-breaking project will help Energex and Ergon deliver more for customers while reducing the network expenditure needed to manage DER impacts, improve power quality and help the transition to a decarbonised electricity system. It exemplifies an innovative approach to addressing the complex engineering challenges presented by the rapid growth of solar PV.

You can hear more about the final submissions for the 2021 Industry Innovation Award by joining the ENA webinar series.

Tailoring consumer engagement

Electricity transmission system operator Powerlink Queensland won the 2021 Energy Network Consumer Engagement Award for its engagement approach during its 2023-27 revenue determination process.

Run jointly by Energy Networks Australia (ENA) and Energy Consumers Australia, the award recognises an Australian energy network that demonstrates best practice consumer engagement.

The judges felt the Powerlink Queensland submission demonstrated outstanding engagement practice and represented a new high-water mark for customer consultation.

Powerlink’s willingness to undertake a genuine co-design process together with consumers, market bodies and executive teams within the business gave it the winning edge.

The entry displayed a clear understanding of customer values and expectations and showed that when networks undertake this kind of work, discrepancies between industry assumptions and the reality of consumer experiences are laid bare. By engaging fully with the consumer, networks can create best practice for the customer and better outcomes for the business as whole.

You can hear more about the final submission for the 2021 Consumer Engagement Award by joining the ENA webinar series.

Industry contribution award

Western Power Principal Networks Strategy Engineer Nigel Wilmot was named the 2021 Energy Network Australia Industry Contribution Award winner. The recipient is nominated by his or her peers and approved by the Energy Networks Australia board.

Mr Wilmot was recognised for his significant contribution to the energy industry over 17 years, in particular for driving the development of new Australian technical standards that govern the connection of renewable energy devices to Australian households and businesses.

Mr Wilmot’s work will have a lasting effect on Australia’s energy transition. Through his foresight, he anticipated the huge growth in solar and battery technology and the need to implement a set of standards to ensure the integrity of Australia’s energy grid was maintained. These standards were revolutionary and once again proved Australia was at the forefront of renewable integration.

The annual awards program is a highlight on the Energy Networks Australia calendar. It provides networks an opportunity to showcase the hardwork and dedication of their teams and how businesses are developing creative solutions for an ever changing energy system.