The commercial, industrial and technical model of electricity generation, transmission and distribution is experiencing a paradigm-shifting era. The traditional centralized power generation is being substituted by distributed energy sources. Depletion of fossil fuels, adverse environmental effects from combustion and renewable energy growth have motivated the change. Electric utilities are evolving in a manner that will define core functions such as power production, distribution and customer service.
The network assets designed for unidirectional power flow from centralized sources amount to a significant monetary value: in Western Australia alone the network assets account for over 15 billion dollars. Modernization of the grid will see these network assets being replaced by new technologies that support bidirectional power flow, micro-grid communication/control systems, power electronics devices for micro-grids and state-of-the-art load-forecasting technology, smart sensors, smart meters, etc. It is envisaged that in the near future the electric grid will likely be comprised of interconnected micro-grids.
The industry’s view on renewable energy and grid modernization is shifting from one of doubt to one of opportunity. There are opportunities for technological innovations, clean energy, new business investments, skills upgrade, and an industry that can supply power to 1.3 billion people in remote villages around the world without electricity from a centralized grid. With these considerations, PACE was founded and has grown to a multi-disciplinary research, education and training center with electrical engineering as its core. PACE members have been devoted to the study of power systems, micro-grids and renewable/clean energy sources.