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Sydney university launches integrated smart city trial and hybrid energy storage research

UNSW is collaborating with the city council to build the IT systems that will monitor and control the data that flows through a range of smart services.

Tamworth aims to help create a template for other smart cities in Australia
Tamworth aims to help create a template for other smart cities in Australia

UNSW Sydney has embarked on a three-way collaboration to explore the potential of smart city technologies and hybrid energy storage systems.


UNSW will lead what is described as Australia’s first fully integrated smart city trial in partnership with Providence Asset Group (PAG) and Tamworth City Council.


Smart city verticals


The trial will be the first based on Internet of Things (IoT) technologies and include applications across transport, energy, health, telecommunications and other community services. Previous trials have incorporated only energy systems and are based on older technology on individual use cases instead of an integrated approach.


The aim of the Tamworth smart city project is to build the IT systems that would monitor and control data flowing through smart services, using the wireless network.


Using existing IoT infrastructure provides seamless integration of IoT devices, from home appliances and utility monitors to council services such as waste management, lighting and parking, and asset security, to health services like remote patient monitoring.

“You could have other apps on the smart network – such as wearable health monitors that alert your medical practitioners should you need to see them"

“Imagine having an app on your computer or phone that gives you your electricity usage and cost information in real-time, and also tells you how some slight change of usage pattern of appliances such as the washing machine could most effectively save electricity bills,” said professor Joe Dong, director of the UNSW Digital Futures Grid Institute, and who is leading the research at UNSW.


“You could have other apps on the smart network for a variety of purposes – such as wearable health monitors that alert your medical practitioners should you need to go and see them or live transport and traffic monitoring to give you alternative routes as soon as a hazard occurs.”


He continued: “If we can prove that our solution works, the potential benefits are endless. UNSW is very excited to trial these systems with Tamworth City and Providence and hopes it will provide a template for other smart cities in Australia in the future.”


Hybrid energy storage


In another announcement, UNSW detailed its involvement in developing Australia’s first large-scale hybrid energy storage system – using lithium batteries and hydrogen fuel cells – to be installed at a $200m solar farm to be built by Providence Asset Group and Risen Energy Group in south-east Queensland.


The system will be designed to store surplus electricity generated at the farm and then discharge it when required.


Dong and his team, together with researchers from UTS and with Providence Asset Group as lead applicant, have been working on a solution that would use artificial intelligence to manage and smooth out the intermittency of renewable energy, balance out supply and demand, and allow the storage and use of excess renewable energy where and when needed.


“UNSW Sydney is already a world leader in renewable energy research,” added professor Nicholas Fisk, deputy vice-chancellor, research at UNSW,


“But the challenge to efficiently, stably and affordably generate, store and distribute sustainable electric power for all Australians in future cannot be achieved without significant investment and the contributions of our partner organisations.”


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