Australian Strategic Technology Program

Energy Networks Australia’s primary vehicle for coordinated industry research, development and innovation.

The Australian Strategic Technology Program (ASTP) was set up primarily to provide funding for university research projects which have the potential to bring about improvements in asset management and network performance for electricity utilities, as well as exploring “non-network” solutions. The ATSP is a collaboration between Energy Networks Australia and the Australian Power Institute.

The ASTP Committee comprises of representatives from electrical distribution and transmission companies around Australia, with objectives to:

  • Facilitate academic research activity in Australia, that will enhance the effectiveness of asset management and the network performance of electricity network assets;
  • Encourage the development of practical solutions to improve electricity network performance, for both reliability of supply and power quality; and
  • Stimulate the development of technology solutions for asset management and network performance problems from a range of private industry suppliers and universities.

Universities specialised in Power Engineering undertake a survey on their research capabilities and based on these results, university research skills are aligned to the priority network themes. The ASTP program advocates highly for a one-team approach where selected universities work together with network companies.

Australian Strategic Technology Program

Completed Research Projects

Under the 2017-2018 ASTP, four projects were chosen depending on issues and themes that were of highest priorities to all networks. The 2017-2018 ASTP project titles and universities based on research capabilities.

The projects are:

  • Management of Voltage in Low Voltage Networks by University of Wollongong
  • Conductor Condition Monitoring by University of Queensland
  • Quantifying Extreme Bushfire Consequences by Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC
  • Solar Enablement Initiative by University of Queensland

All four projects began in July 2018 and will run for 18 months. A one-team approach was adopted and has proven to be successful.

Selected Outcomes of the Completed Projects

Management of Voltage in Low Voltage Networks by University of Wollongong

The project compares network and non-network approaches to managing excessive voltage variation on local low voltage (LV) networks caused by swings between embedded generation and demand. It is a collaboration between the University of Wollongong and network businesses Energy Queensland, Jemena, SA Power Networks and United Energy.

Conductor Condition Monitoring by University of Queensland

The project develops cost-effective and reliable methods for assessing the likelihood of conductor failures. These failures can threaten public safety from potential electric shock or electrocution and fire initiation. The project is a collaboration between the University of Queensland, Energy Queensland, AusGrid, Western Power, Citipower, Powercor, United Energy and SA Power Networks.

Quantifying Extreme Bushfire Consequences by Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC

There is no accepted approach in Australia to quantifying the consequences and benefits of undertaking bushfire mitigation investment. Whilst it is relatively easy to assess the costs associated with an individual fire-start event, these costs are typically inconsequential compared with a catastrophic bushfire event. The challenge is made harder given that while a catastrophic bushfire event is rare, its impact is enormous on distribution networks and customers. This project will identify a standardised method for accurately assessing the potential costs of a bushfire by combining fire simulations with economic and decision analyses.

Solar Enablement Initiative by University of Queensland

This project aims to support electricity distribution companies to take a less conservative approach in assessing and approving additional customer photovoltaic (PV) systems to be connected to their networks. This is achieved by providing them with a better understanding of the operational conditions of their networks through the application of a proven state estimation technique (SEA) that generates an estimate of the networks’ operational conditions. These estimated results will form part of a network analysis tool through which the likely impact of the additional PV systems can be assessed.

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Future Research Projects

Two new projects have been chosen for upcoming ASTP projects:

  • Electric vehicle integration into the electricity grid
  • Minigrid, edge of grid and standalone power system management

These projects are currently being scoped and will commence in early 2020.

Knowledge Sharing

An Energy innovation summit was held in Brisbane on 27-28 August 2019 where all current and future projects were discussed and presented to a wider audience. Members from industry and Universities brainstormed ideas and received feedback from participants.

An energy insider article was published by Energy Networks Australia on the findings of the ASTP program known as “an electric partnership for greater customer benefits”.

For further information, please contact the Program Co-ordinator at the Energy Networks Australia Secretariat.