The highly centralised design of Australia’s archaic power grid is in the throes of a massive transformation. Renewable energy sources, such as solar energy and wind farms, coupled with the development of battery technology, has fundamentally changed how technology infrastructure is deployed and used across the nation.
For most of the last 100 years, the Australian power grid has been developed on the principle of producing energy as needed, like most power grids around the world. When the National Electricity Market (NEM) was established in 1997, energy production was broken up into five-minute chunks. At the commencement of each interval, generators were directed to produce enough electricity to supply energy users with their needs for the next five minutes.
Energy prices were set for each interval based on the cost of supply by generators. But today, renewable energy sources, in combination with new technology infrastructure, has brought about disruptive change.
South Australia experiences an energy transformation
On 28 September 2016, the state of South Australia suffered a state-wide electricity blackout as the result of a series of cascading failures stemming from extreme weather conditions. The event was unprecedented in Australia, with the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) having to restart the South Australian power system from a “black” condition for the first time ever.
In the aftermath, Tesla’s Elon Musk said his company could supply a lithium-ion battery system, which could prevent such an event from happening again. That battery, the largest of its type in the world, provides the state with infrastructure that’s already proven its value and delivered significant financial returns.
Following the success of this government-sponsored project, plans were announced to install batteries in 50,000 government-owned houses in South Australia, with the stored energy in those batteries forming a virtual power station. When required, energy stored in those batteries could be dispatched into the South Australian energy region—either when costs of other energy sources exceeded those of the batteries or when the power supply was under some other threat.
What does this mean for your business?
The technology infrastructure deployed in South Australia and future plans for creating virtual, battery-driven power stations demonstrate to businesses that clean energy sources are ready for even wider-spread deployment. While the plans to install batteries to homes in South Australia isn’t finalised just yet, the potential of using renewables to support technology infrastructure will have IT managers considering new possibilities. These new batteries prove it’s possible to power a 24/7 facility with clean energy at costs that provide a viable alternative to the main power grid. This new technology infrastructure can also reduce dependence on traditional generators for business continuity or disaster recovery planning.
Typically, IT security is focused on dealing with digital or physical threats. But an interruption to power supply that disrupts business operations is a significant risk that needs addressing. By deploying batteries as part of your technology infrastructure, you can improve the operational security of your systems. In some scenarios, you can also lower costs by using green energy sources. That’s one of the many reasons why it’s a good idea to commit to purchasing technology solutions from energy-efficient providers. As sustainability becomes more important to customers and businesses alike, partnering with vendors that make clean energy a priority will become a smart long-term investment and also ensures that, in the event of disruption of supply from the grid, your service providers can stay online longer.
The ability to generate and store renewable energy will allow your business to innovate and try new technologies without increasing your energy costs or carbon footprint. As South Australia recently learned, an investment in green energy is an investment in the future.