I recently gave a research group seminar about the Australian Research Council (ARC) Future Fellowship grant that I am shortly to commence, based in at the University of Tasmania in Hobart. Smart Grids, Messy Society seeks to investigate how is learning is taking place from the early implementation of smart grids in Australia, and with what effect. The Future Fellowship research has two main aims: 1) to investigate the societal drivers for, and implications of, smart grids; and 2) to assess how smart grid implementation varies from place to place, and the implications of this for theories and practices of innovation and learning.
The short presentation covered what a smart grid is (a subject of much discussion, think IT meets utility infrastructures), and the large scale experiments that have been running in Australia trialling smart grids. There was interest in the types and extent of political protest against smart grids – most notable in the State of Victoria – where a political party has recently formed (‘People Power Victoria’) directly to campaign against smart grids. Questions and discussion were about the planned empirical research on the development of smart grid standards, the role of data in learning, and the neoliberal (and international) aspects of smart grid implementation.