A-Lab is ARENA’s grid integration innovation lab. It draws on a network of people with a wide range of expertise and passion to drive systemic change in the electricity sector.
A-Lab provides a space for these people to explore and define solutions to the most complex challenges of integrating renewables and grids, combining their respective strengths and building momentum for change.
Why is it important?
Integrating renewables and grids is complex and challenging. There are a variety of technical, regulatory and commercial factors that play a major role in enabling, or resisting, change. No single actor in this sector can drive the systemic change needed, despite many large established energy companies, new and disruptive technologies and strong government support for change to happen. While widely recognised, there has not been a mechanism for energy system actors to collaborate in a strategic way to solve the challenges together; to innovate to create a better future.
A-Lab was created to drive renewable energy integration in Australia by bringing together people from across the entire sector and providing a variety of methods, tools and approaches to facilitate intensive, collaborative processes. A-Lab can enable breakthrough creative thinking on some of the most exciting and complex challenges facing the electricity sector.
How does A-Lab work?
Imagining what this future could be is one thing; building on the idea is much more challenging. We started from assuming that the future will be a customer focussed energy ecosystem. We established six ‘innovation frames’ that balance the need for a reliable and resilient system; vibrant new markets and choices; social equity; and low carbon impact.
A-Lab is progressively tackling each frame using a disciplined innovation process to create solutions, projects and experiments more rapidly, collaboratively and with the whole system in mind. Through this process we aim to build on ARENA’s existing portfolio with projects that address key issues identified and have the potential to create systemic change.
What has ARENA done so far?
In 2016 we began the initiative with an intensive co-design and pilot process working across the industry. The initial focus of our pilot was designing and testing approaches to new, customer oriented distributed energy markets. This pilot phase has already moved us from theoretical constructs to the tangible projects that will make our energy future more affordable, reliable and renewable.