Western Power is building a bright energy future that incorporates new technologies and a more flexible network to meet customers’ changing energy needs. Here, Fiona Bishop, Executive Manager of Change and Innovation at Western Power, discusses the opportunities of the electricity grid and new technologies.

Fiona Bishop

Ahead of her appearance at the Digital Utilities 2019 conference, taking place from 21-22 March in Melbourne, Ms Bishop highlighted the importance of grid modernisation and the consequences of failing to embrace change.

“We are leading the way in creating an energy utility of the future that is more sustainable and flexible to meet varying customer needs. We are building a modular network for the future which includes local generation and storage solutions such as stand-alone power systems and microgrids,” Ms Bishop said.

“We are working with customers to create choice. Customers are interested in renewable energy sources and local generation options. A modular network allows our network to be more flexible and incorporate these current needs, and evolve as new technologies emerge.”

In December 2018, the number of households using rooftop solar in Australia reached two million and this figure continues to climb.

“The electricity system is more interconnected than ever. Localised generation, such as rooftop solar, is creating a reverse energy flow back into the distribution system. This creates a challenge for network operators who are balancing and managing the flows safely,” Ms Bishop said.

“The huge opportunity for network service providers is to harness these energy resources on the distribution network, and use them to improve network efficiency and avoid unnecessary grid augmentation. If we’re smart in how we adapt, it could reduce customer electricity bills.”

Ms Bishop explained that the digital capability to deliver scenario-based network planning is also essential to optimise the grid, especially in times of peak demand.

“Infrastructure-related technology, like stand-alone power systems and microgrids, are already proven technologies in the market. The next frontier is about linking data from the physical grid-based infrastructure and back-office computation to bring technology, software and data analysis to life as a system that enables supply of energy to customers.”

What is your organisation doing to build smart grid capabilities?

Hear more from Fiona Bishop about managing increasing levels of distributed energy resources at Digital Utilities 2019, running from 21-22 March at the Pullman Hotel Albert Park in Melbourne.