Smart power grid option for Christchurch

ROB O'NEILL
Last updated 05:00 18/11/2012

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A smart electricity grid being scoped as part of the Christchurch rebuild is a key element of international efforts to boost green and innovative growth under Asia Pacific Economic forum (Apec's) declarations.

Apec issued a tender last week for the development of what it calls an "Urban Development Smart Grid Roadmap" for the Christchurch recovery project, saying the project would provide valuable lessons for Apec communities on the role that smart grids can play in a disaster recovery process.

"The electricity grid has performed relatively well in the earthquakes," the document notes. "Temporary repairs were quickly implemented, and long-term repairs are ongoing. However, the scale of built and municipal infrastructure replacement that will occur in Christchurch over the coming years means that investment choices made now will have long-lasting effects."

The Christchurch smart grid project is seen as a contribution to meeting undertakings made in the Fukui Declaration from the ninth Apec energy ministers meeting in June 2010; and reinforced in the 2011 Leaders Honolulu Declaration.

"The rapid pace of urban development in the Apec region also means the findings of this study will be relevant to major urban development projects that are part of the ongoing development process," it said.

Smart grid technologies can help to integrate intermittent renewable power sources and building control systems to allow consumers to use energy more efficiently. They can also help to enhance the reliability of electricity supply, extend the useful life of power system components and reduce system operating costs, Apec said.

Smart grids improve data collection and information communication in the electricity system, allow more complex and automated control and better asset management, greater energy efficiency and more distributed renewable generation.

"Ultimately, they can provide an improved service for businesses and residents and a more sustainable electricity system. Therefore, how Christchurch can best develop smarter grid systems as part of the city's infrastructure rebuild is worthy of investigation."

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