Australia's four main electricity grids and many remote 'island' grids were designed for the reliable delivery of electricity to households and businesses across the country.
Each main grid consists of:
- transmission grids that transmit electricity across large distances at very high voltages, and
- distribution grids that deliver electricity from the transmission grid to households and businesses.
Australia's electricity grids
WA: South West Interconnected System (SWIS)
WA: North West Interconnected System (NWIS)
NT: Darwin-Katherine Electricity Network
Qld, NSW, ACT, Vic, SA, Tas: National Electricity Market (NEM)
There is over 850,000 km of distribution grid and 45,000 km of transmission grid in operation across Australia, with the eastern and south-eastern states boasting the National Electricity Market - one of the largest interconnected electricity markets in the world.
Electricity is an essential service and, unsurprisingly, the value Australia places on electricity is high and about half of every electricity bill funds the operation, maintenance and expansion of our grids.
The combination of the Renewable Energy Target, declining clean energy technology costs and, most importantly, consumer preferences to control their electricity consumption are drastically changing the nature of our grids.
Consumers are now placing new expectations on them and expecting flexible and on-demand services that have never been offered before.
Distribution and transmission companies in Australia (2013)
NSW: Essential Energy, AusGrid, Endeavour Energy, TransGrid
NT: Power and Water
Qld: Ergon Energy, Energex, PowerLink
SA: SA Power Networks, ElectraNet
Tas: Aurora Energy
Vic: Powercor, Citipower, Jemena, SP AusNet, United Energy
WA: Western Power, Horizon Power
As with everything in electricity, there is more to the grid than meets the eye. Australia's electricity grids are facing a paradigm shift and the stakes are high, along with the costs of getting it wrong.
Multiple stakeholders involved in electricity are impacted by our grids and there has never been a more pressing time to work together to address the challenges impeding the continued deployment of renewable energy of all scales.
Our electricity grids are constantly undergoing reform as new issues are identified and dealt with or efficiency improvements are identified. There are many state and federal government bodies that can undertake reviews and instigate these processes.