Positive outlook for Western Australia’s evolving power system

2 min

Accelerating investment in new renewable generation and Distributed Energy Resources (DER) in Western Australia (WA) is driving a paradigm shift in the power system, presenting both exciting opportunities and new operational challenges.

One in three homes in the South West Interconnected System (SWIS) now have rooftop solar installed, and AEMO’s 2021 Wholesale Electricity Market (WEM) Electricity Statement of Opportunities (ESOO) report projects rooftop and large-scale commercial solar systems will reach around 40% of total generation capacity by 2030-31.

AEMO’s CEO and Managing Director, Daniel Westerman said: “This is a profound transformation that calls for the highest levels of collaboration across the WA energy system – amongst market bodies, policy makers, industry participants and consumer groups.”

“As the energy transition unfolds, AEMO is committed to working collaboratively with stakeholders to implement the WA Government’s Energy Transformation Strategy, to ensure WA households and businesses are the beneficiaries of secure, reliable, affordable and sustainable energy,” Mr Westerman said.

“It is pleasing that AEMO’s analysis in the 2021 WEM ESOO confirms sufficient generation capacity to meet forecast demand in the SWIS over the next decade” Mr Westerman added.

The report expects increased business activity and growth in new housing will drive a 0.2% annual increase in peak demand forecast over the 10-year outlook period, compared to a 0.2% decline in last year’s WEM ESOO. The Reserve Capacity Requirement has been determined as 4,396 megawatts (MW) for 2023-2024, meeting the one in 10 year forecast peak demand, which is a slight decrease from the 4,421 MW requirement in 2022-23.

AEMO Executive General Manager, WA, Cameron Parrotte said: “Our analysis shows that even with the expected staged retirement of coal generators, including Muja C unit 5 in 2022 and Muja C unit 6 in 2024, connected and committed capacity is forecast to meet anticipated demand over the next decade.”

The report affirms the rapid pace and scale of transition underway in WA’s power system, with rooftop solar and large-scale commercial system installations expected to grow at an average annual rate of 8% (219 MW per year) to reach an estimated 4,069 MW of installed capacity by 2030-31.

As a result, overall operational consumption will decline at an annual rate of 0.8% over the outlook period. Further, forecast minimum operational demand, the demand for electricity from the grid, is expected to decline from the current record low of 954 MW to 232 MW by 2025-26.

Mr Parrotte said that as the shift towards variable generators and uptake of distributed solar continues, we are encountering new challenges associated with minimum demand and managing system security issues. This includes maintaining voltage, system strength, and inertia standards. New standards, system services, and regulatory arrangements are required to keep the power system secure and reliable.

“AEMO is supportive of innovative solutions to help address these challenges, pointing to the importance of projects already underway, like the WA Government’s Energy Transformation Strategy, to help alleviate system security risks under certain conditions such as when minimum operational demand is low,” Mr Parrotte added.

“AEMO will continue to collaborate with consumers, industry and government to develop new standards and to support cost-effective regulatory and market reforms required to ensure consumer expectations for reliable, secure, sustainable and affordable energy are being addressed,” he said.


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