Power puzzle: Preparing the electricity grid for a decarbonised future

Australia’s electricity sector is facing complex challenges and rapid transformation, with ageing infrastructure, increasing supply volatility and evolving consumer behaviours, combined with the trend towards decarbonisation. 

In the first of a series of four articles, David McAlpine explores the work of Monash University researchers who are at the cutting edge of shaping the electricity grid of the future.

By DAVID McALPINE, science editor

Ariel Liebman

Power grid problem solver Dr Ariel Liebman is the deputy director of the Monash Energy Materials and Systems Institute (MEMSI) and senior lecturer of Information Technology.

With a background in physics and industry experience across all facets of the electricity supply chain, Dr Liebman leads Monash’s Digital Energy initiatives. He is passionate about integrating renewable technology and energy storage technology into a more decarbonised transmission grid.

“I’m excited that we will be able to decarbonise our electricity system much faster than we previously thought because the technology is becoming much cheaper,” he says.

Dr Liebman uses powerful cloud computing systems to explore future grid scenarios, including modelling technology costs, consumer demand and electricity pricing.

“My objective is to identify the problems in industry that arise from the uptake of new technology, like large amounts of rooftop solar and smart meters, and the ability for consumers to be more active participants in the retail electricity market.”

As a link between researchers and industry, Dr Liebman says he is often an “interpreter” between different ways of thinking and tackling complex problems. He says Monash’s new Grid Innovation Hub, launched earlier this year, will allow a more coordinated pathway between researchers and industry.

“This requires leadership on how you come up with new technical solutions that can be marketed to consumers. This is where you start having to look at cross-disciplinary research with business and scientists.”

This article was written by David McAlpine and originally published in print and online by Monash Energy Materials and Systems Institute (MEMSI)