TransGrid takes up the energy challenge with the iDemand Project at its Western Sydney headquarters

28/01/2014

​With heatwave conditions sweeping the country, it’s more vital than ever before that our electricity suppliers come up with ways to reduce electricity demand and this is a core focus of TransGrid’s future planning.

The operator of one of Australia’s largest high-voltage transmission networks has recognised that even more innovative ways of managing demand for energy supplies are required.

“We are exploring several different areas in demand management,” said Mal Coble, TransGrid’s manager of Network Support and Consultations.

One of those initiatives is underway at TransGrid’s Western Sydney facility at Eastern Creek, with work having commenced on a hybrid energy system known as iDemand.

Ultimately it’s hoped that the findings from this project can contribute to better management of peak demand.

Information around the outcomes will be offered to research organisations and provide potential for market development in Australia, including the chance for businesses to retro-fit areas of their work-sites with solar capacity.

“It’s important that we practice what we preach, that’s why we are setting this up at our western Sydney headquarters,” he said.

Solar panels (on top of the site car park) will harness solar energy for immediate usage on site, while batteries will store energy during off-peak periods at night and discharge energy to the site during the day.

“Combined with the LED lighting, the total peak demand on site during summer periods is expected to reduce by up to 50 per cent as a result,” Mr Coble said.

The expected savings will be the equivalent of taking almost 40 households off the grid on a typical summer’s weekday and the peak savings will be the equivalent of switching off a similar number of air conditioners during peak demand time at the Eastern Creek facility.

“This is also about putting more information into the public domain about what demand management is and what it can offer. iDemand data and outcomes will be made available on TransGrid’s website,” Mr Coble added.

Demand management is a strategy whereby electricity users are encouraged to actively change their use patterns, either by decreasing electricity consumption or shifting use from peak demand periods to off-peak times.

It is considered a vital component in helping to reduce pressure on a network during times of high electricity demand.

“An example of this pressure comes with a very hot day when many homes and businesses are running air conditioners and pool pumps,” Mr Coble said.

“But it’s not just about finding demand solutions - there are significant environmental pluses of course, through savings on carbon dioxide emissions.”

The primary system includes the installation of 400 kilowatt-hour capacity lithium polymer batteries and almost 100 kilowatts of solar panel capacity.

The infrastructure also includes an IT interface, an integrated hardware system which will provide opportunities for further collaborative research with universities. Real-time data displays linked to the TransGrid website will display the outputs from the solar panels and batteries on site and demonstrate the demand reductions achieved each day.

“We’ll be busy testing all the control regimes including the efficiency of all parts and that includes issues such as how the panels perform in the hottest conditions, if there is any drop-off in performances,’ Mr Coble said.

In addition to this iDemand project, each year TransGrid works closely with research bodies throughout the country to run a variety of demand management and demand response programs.

In December, TransGrid claimed the top award in the Best Demand Response category of the Energy Efficiency Council Awards, after combining with EnerNOC last summer (the world’s largest demand response provider) to deliver a demand management project involving more than 80 sites across metropolitan Sydney, including some of the harbour city’s largest energy users.

Construction of the iDemand project is expected to be completed by September of this year, with the data expected to be on display immediately.