Aust budget '09: Smart grids get US$76.5M

Australia's government has announced an up to A$100 million (US$76.44 million) investment in the 2009 Budget to create a "smarter and more efficient energy network".

The Federal Government in Australia has announced an up to A$100 million (US$76.44 million) investment in the 2009 Budget to assist the development of smart grid technology to create a "smarter and more efficient energy network".

Smart grid technology monitors electricity supply across distribution networks using communications technology. It helps integrate renewable energy into the grid and gives consumers information on their energy usage.

According to Communications Minister Stephen Conroy, the government will immediately begin to look for ways to demonstrate a smart grid network.

Depending on an implementation study, the demonstration would extend to developing an integrated system of smart grids and smart meters in one city, town or region, which in turn would help with the wider deployment of smart grid technology across the nation.

Conroy said investment in the smart grid project would mean that Australia would be better able to take advantage of the pending National Broadband Network.

"The government has invested heavily in energy efficiency and is determined that Australia now takes the next step to harness new technologies that drive even further energy efficiency," Conroy said in a statement.

NICTA funding continued
Conroy also said that government-owned ICT research house National ICT Australia's funding will be extended by four years to 2014-15 at the cost of A$185.5 million (US$141.8 million) over four years.

"With funding certainty to 2014-15, NICTA will continue to generate significant economic and social returns for the Australian community and attract increased investment from other partners," Conroy said.

Do Not Call Register boosted
Conroy also announced the Do Not Call Register, which attempts to block telemarketing nuisances, would be expanded, receiving A$4.7 million (US$3.6 million) over four years to widen its scope, after the minister received a number of requests directly from the public on the matter.