Accessibility Skip to Global Navigation Skip to Local Navigation Skip to Content Skip to Search Skip to Site Map Menu

Renewable Energy and the Smart Grid (GREEN Grid)

Principal Investigators:  Dr Janet Stephenson, Dr Michael Jack

Centre Staff:  Dr Kiti Soumalainen,  Jane Khan

Research Associate:  Dr Rebecca Ford  (Oxford University)

Project Summary

Solar panels on roof (280)This programme, which is being carried out in a joint program led by the University of Canterbury together with the University of Auckland. The project explores future trends in renewable electricity generation and household demand, together with in depth knowledge of electricity networks and power management, to ensure that New Zealanders have access to reliable, safe, and affordable renewable energy.

Project Overview

New Zealand’s electricity network is fundamental to our daily activities and to our income generation. The reliability and quality of power supply, the safety of the electricity network, and the cost of power all need to be managed in balance with the different types and requirements of electricity generation and demand. The research takes into account changing supply and demand and its effect on the electricity system, particularly new options for supply of renewable energy such as from wind and photovoltaics. It also takes into account new forms of demand, such as electric vehicles and smart appliances.

To inform the continuing evolution of New Zealand's electricity infrastructure under changing supply and demand, the GREEN Grid project aims to work with a wide range of end users, across the industry and in Government, to ensure that changes to the network and new management practices are applied uniformly.

The work being undertaken by the University of Otago team, led from the Centre for Sustainability, is focussed on exploring consumer demand for new technologies such as solar photovoltaics (PV, electric vehicles and smart appliances, as well as current patterns of demand and opportunities for demand side management.

Our research aims to answer the following questions:

1. How are people currently using energy in their homes, which appliances are drawing power at any one time, and what needs does the use of these appliances meet?
2. What factors might influence people’s decision to purchase new energy technologies like solar PV systems and electric vehicles?
3. What trends are emerging with regard to appliance ownership, smart devices, and home energy management systems? How might the uptake of these new appliances and technologies impact future demand?
To answer these questions we cultivate an interdisciplinary research team and use a mixture of social science, information science, and engineering approaches.

Project Publications

Ford, R., Stephenson, J., Brown, N., & Stiehler, W. (2014). Energy Transitions: Home Energy Management Systems (HEMS). Centre for Sustainability, University of Otago.

Ford, R., Stephenson, J., Scott, M., Williams, J., Rees, D., & Wooliscroft, B. (2015). Keen on EVs: Kiwi perspectives on electric vehicles, and opportunities to stimulate uptake (Working Paper). Centre for Sustainability, University of Otago. 


Ford, R., Stephenson, J., Scott, M., Williams, J., Wooliscroft, B., King, G., & Miller, A. (2014). Photovoltaic (PV) Uptake in NZ: The story so far. Centre for Sustainability, University of Otago.  


King, G., Stephenson, J., & Ford, R. (2014). PV in Blueskin: Drivers, barriers and enablers of uptake of household photovoltaic systems in the Blueskin communities, Otago, New Zealand. Centre for Sustainability, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand. 

Ford, R., McCulloch, M., Helfer, T., & Surrall, S. (2013). Suricatta: A platform to model smart grid technologies in the distribution system. In Innovative Smart Grid Technologies Europe (ISGT EUROPE), 2013 4th IEEE/PES (pp. 1-5). IEEE.