What's next for Australia's energy industry?
There hasn’t been a major new baseload coal- or gas-fired power station connected to the National Electricity Market since 2012. Siemens was involved in that project, and projections at that time were that the construction boom would continue. The consensus was that Australia needed more power.
Fast-forward 10 years and we can now see that events transpired very differently. We now have an energy system that is no longer centralised but made up of a mix of traditional and distributed energy sources.
Today, Australian businesses and householders have more options than ever to supply and manage their own energy, and small ‘prosumers’, who both consume and produce electricity, are having a dramatic impact. But across the spectrum, for producers, consumers, prosumers alike, energy efficiency is a very real and important topic — with the potential to add real capacity to the energy market.
It is often said that “The most sustainable and cost-effective energy is the energy that isn’t used”.
The big question is: what comes next for Australia?
A very important consideration will be how we manage the flood of data that comes with the digitalisation of our industrial facilities, our office buildings and our energy systems.
In manufacturing, there is a concept called the digital twin. We are now also seeing this gain traction in discussions of smart cities, smart buildings and the power grid.
The digital twin essentially sits at the heart of how we transition to the Fourth Industrial Revolution. In an industrial sense, the digital twin is a virtual replica of the product and the industrial plant, and it is a virtual replica of plant operations.
By bringing all these things together, you achieve incredible power and transparency, allowing productivity and efficiency gains throughout the plant’s lifecycle to be extracted.
There’s a lot that the energy industry can learn from the digital twin. Imagine if we applied the concept of the digital twin to the generation of energy, the network operation and the full demand side of energy — connected with each other into a truly integrated and optimised system.
Small steps are already being taken towards this goal in Australia and internationally.
Siemens will be bringing together local and global experts for a deeper discussion on the opportunities arising from digitalisation for Australian energy, manufacturing, infrastructure, mobility and workforce sectors at Digitalize 2019 in Brisbane on 23 July. For tickets and more information, visit https://www.siemensdigitalize2019.com/.
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