A state-of-the art laboratory is to be created in Canberra to test the way all kinds of electrical devices, from air-conditioners to electric cars to pool pumps, could be co-ordinated to cut how much electricity the nation uses.
The people behind the lab at the Australian National University hope it will become the country's main centre for research and development in the emerging technology of "smart grids" - grids that only produce electricity in the right amount and at the right time.
At the moment, for example, the pump that keeps water in a backyard swimming pool churning has no way of co-ordinating with the air-conditioning. But if they could be made to work sensibly together, there's money and carbon dioxide to be saved.
The new Distributed Energy Resources Laboratory at the ANU will test ways of doing that. Its head, Dr Bjorn Sturmberg, said it would make us much more efficient and cost effective.
"It's a game changer."
He gave an example: imagine that a big coal fired power station goes down. If there was a way of switching off inessential pumps across the nation for a few seconds, which might help Australia cope with the outage.
Solar panels and batteries in homes and properties could step up their output - but only if there was a way of co-ordinating the whole system, including the "behind the meter" generators in backyards and on roofs.
His team will look at ways in which household machinery and home generating systems can best operate as a whole.
Dr Sturmberg said the new new lab would be able to simulate electricity use in a street. It could work out what the effect on the whole grid would be if all the street's devices, plus the air-conditioning in all the homes, were turned on simultaneously.
His hope is that companies in what is a global industry will use the laboratory to test the devices they are developing. He hopes, too, that the lab will be like a magnet, drawing other researchers to the city to form a cluster of groups developing the technology.
"This lab will help develop and test the technologies and control systems needed for Australia's future energy system," Dr Sturmberg said.
There is already research on energy systems being done at the ANU. Its leader, Dr Lachlan Blackhall, said the future system would be of many small generators of power, coordinated by computers. "Australia's electricity system is undergoing its most significant transformation in a century - moving away from a centralised system based on a small number of large generators."
The ACT government is to put $1.5 million into the lab through its Priority Investment Program, which was set up to work with industry and academia to, as the press release puts it, "attract investment and grow established and emerging priority areas of Canberra's economy".
The ACT's Minister for Advanced Technology and Space Industries, Mick Gentleman, said the new lab would "attract industry, network companies and academics around Australia and the world to bring their business, technology and research and development to the ACT".
"This builds on Canberra's leadership on renewable energy and will help grow our local industry and support new jobs," he said.