Using technology to adapt electricity distribution networks for cleaner, greener energy


Image courtesy of Future Grid - Pixabay

Policy approach(es) used to catalyse investment: Market driven - business need to adapt to changing customer needs 

Commercial approach(es.) used to catalyse investment: Adoption of an innovative partnership / risk sharing model

Technology approach(es) used to catalyse investment: Implementation of a data platform or digital twin for greater transparency over performance

Finance approach(es) used to catalyse investment:  Public investment

Key benefits: 

  • Climate mitigation                     
  • Climate adaption 

Scale of deployment: 

Deployed in 11 locations in Australia, Canada, and New Zealand 

Project value: 

On average, project value is between AUD400,000 and AUD800,000 

Project start/end dates: 


Current status of the project: 

In construction, operational 

Future Grid is adapting electricity distribution networks for cleaner, greener energy by cleansing network data to improve GIS topology, reacting to network capacity constraints in real time, managing voltage and power quality issues, and detecting and managing the impacts of EVs and Solar PV.   

Rather than using a static model approach, Future Grid uses a dynamic process that uses data sensors at the grid edge to tell operators what is happening now. Available on the global SAP store, Future Grid’s innovative software has been successfully deployed in production to utilities across Australia and New Zealand.

Future Grid Matrix

Image courtesy of Future Grid

Future Grid’s solution is innovative. It takes a set of existing technologies, intelligent meters, telecommunications, software, and hardware to develop a platform that can ingest large amounts of data and deliver it in a form that can be consumed by analytics engines and then visualised. While Future Grid has built its analytics and visualisation to show possible outcomes, the end state is to have results-driven solutions. Advanced Distribution Management Systems (previously SCADA) are the systems that control network elements. The aim is that Future Grid’s software integrates seamlessly to the ADMS so that issues identified at the grid edge are managed in near real time in the low voltage grid, most likely at the LV transformer level by, for example, changing the tap settings.


Approaches to attracting investment have been similar across Australia and New Zealand. New Zealand has a more cohesive policy and regulatory environment. However, there is little difference in reality, because the need for DBs to evolve from a Distribution Network Operator (DNO) to a Distribution Systems Operator (DSO) is being driven by standard policies (photovoltaic (PV) and battery electric vehicles (BEV) incentives) and people’s responses.

Challenges experienced/overcome in implementation

The major challenge has been how prepared individual DBs have been with their transition from a DNO to a DSO. Purchases on the low voltage network are less prioritised for a DNO model but critical for a DSO model. These building blocks need to be put in place before data can be extracted and consumed to be provided to analytics engines and visualisation tools. The ultimate is the outcome-based dynamic DSO model.

Other approaches that enabled investment

Policy approach

This case study is an example of the indirect impacts of other policy approaches—the need for Distribution Businesses to react to distributed energy resources (DER) from subsidies for PV and BEVs. Federal and State governments have had policies to subsidise PV installations through attractive feed-in tariffs, interest-free loans, and solar rebates (STC and direct financial incentives). This has driven the uptake of PVs, and now we are seeing incentives for BEVs. DBs are responding to this by seeing the need to monitor the low voltage network more sustainably. The DBs detect voltage fluctuations and transformer loadings that need to be managed to ensure the security of the low-voltage electricity network.

Commercial approach

While in Australia, each DB has set up a project to implement the Future Grid product, there has been a different approach in North America. Future Grid was selected by EPRI (Electric Power Research Institute), which collaborates globally, driving innovation to ensure the public has clean, safe, reliable, affordable, and equitable access to electricity across the globe. Future Grid implemented its solution on behalf of two DBs, one in the US, and one in Canada. This was an innovative partnership that benefited all parties.

Technology approach

Future Grid’s data platform is the most innovative component and gives DBs the ability to consume data from the grid edge in near real-time. This allows DBs to move from a Distributor Network Model focusing on network stability and reliability from a centre-out electricity system to a DSO model managing the grid dynamically.


Note: This case study and all information within was submitted by Future Grid in response to our global call for InfraTech case studies.

Last Updated: 21 October 2022