Smart Grid Edge Technologies Case Studies of Early Adopters
The future management of New Zealand’s electricity grid will be impacted by changes in the way that consumers interact with electricity. These include uptake of micro-generation, electric vehicles, storage, and energy management systems. Uptake of these smart grid ‘edge technologies’ is currently at an early stage in New Zealand, so it is too soon to quantify their impact on the grid. This report is therefore a qualitative assessment of how households, businesses and communities are perceiving, and acting on, the opportunities offered by these technologies. Six case studies were undertaken: two ‘early adopter’ households; two businesses involved as consumer and service provider respectively; and two communities that are actively pursuing opportunities for collective benefit Drivers for adoption of edge technologies differed between these groups. The main motivators for the early-adopter households were having fun and trialling new technologies, along with saving power and a desire to improve resilience. For the businesses, the main drivers were related to cost, scalability, and alignment with existing business mandates (internal focus) or the markets within which they operate (external focus). Aspirations for resilience and sustainability were key drivers for the communities Barriers to adoption were similar across all three cases. Key barriers were lack of easily accessible information about edge technologies, and the complexity and lack of interoperability. For businesses an additional barrier was that existing systems and infrastructure did not allow easy incorporation of edge technologies. The upfront cost of edge technologies (purchase plus installation) is another barrier common to all groups. The projects that have been successful are those in which the value propositions are clear for all actors (and aligned with their existing mandates and values), and in which solutions are easily implementable. Future uptake will require more easily accessible (and less technical) information, and “plug and play” solutions that are easily integrated into homes and businesses without the need for technical experts. If these smart technologies are to be incorporated into the smart grid of the future, they need to be able to communicate with signals from the system operator so that they can be harnessed to improve grid flexibility and resilience.
Publisher: Centre for Sustainability, University of Otago
Rights Statement: Copyright The Authors
Keywords: New Zealand; electricity grid; smart grid; edge technologies’; micro-generation; electric vehicles,; energy management systems; qualitative assessment; early adopter
Research Type: Project Report
The author would like to acknowledge the Smart Grid Forum for funding this research. We also acknowledge our reviewers, John Hancock and Gerry Carrington.
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