SA Power Networks leads the nation in demand management research and is committed to investigating and trialling demand management strategies for South Australia.
In 2005, we were commissioned by the Essential Services Commission of South Australia (ESCOSA) to conduct a five-year demand management research and development project. A $20.4 million budget was delegated by ESCOSA to the project, which involves industrial, commercial and residential demand management options and opportunities.
SA Power Networks has a discrete demand management unit within the Demand and Network Management department. This unit has been tasked with undertaking a range of trials to better understand what can, and importantly cannot, be implemented within the State to manage peak demand issues.
All trials undertaken investigate two key factors - technology and customer acceptance. All trials are also exposed to stringent and independent cost benefit analysis.
Residential demand management continues to be a key plank of our investigations into, and trials of, potential peak demand management strategies. This relates to the fact that South Australia has the 'peakiest' electricity demand of any State in Australia, and a peak demand that is among the worst in the world.
A main factor in SA's well-documented peak demand issue is the use of residential air conditioning. More than 90% of South Australian homes now have air conditioners. SA Power Networks continues to trial direct load control. This targets home air conditioners by remotely switching off their compressors but not their fans (to ensure comfort levels are maintained).
The trials operate for some minutes over a number of hours of peak demand on hot summer days. Such hours are typically late afternoon and early evening. Using around 1000 volunteer households, trials to date indicate a 19 - 35% reduction in peak load where direct load control demand management is utilised.
Our demand management trials, and the rigor of our cost benefit analysis, have placed SA Power Networks and South Australia at the forefront of demand management research in Australia.
We are now committed to implementing our invaluable trial learnings.