Australia’s Energy Ministers recently announced funding for AEMO to further support generation projects in the National Electricity Market (NEM) that are targeting connection for the upcoming summer.
With the funding and support, AEMO will provide additional support to facilitate the connection of agreed dispatchable and variable renewable energy projects with commissioning target dates before the end of March 2024.
As part of this process, AEMO will establish a program of work with additional resources to work directly with selected project proponents and their Network Service Providers (NSPs) to identify areas of assistance to facilitate connections.
As a not-for-profit public company, AEMO has an existing role to deliver efficient and cost-effective services to all parties throughout the NEM connection processes using a central pool of resources that are shared across all connection projects.
The need to provide a consistent level of support across all projects, regardless of individual project challenges, can limit AEMO’s ability to provide dedicated support to projects that are encountering significant or complex connection issues.
With the new funding, AEMO will be able to provide dedicated support to assist NSPs and project proponents to investigate and resolve critical technical issues, and liaise with governments if projects are facing challenges outside of AEMO’s or NSPs’ remit to assist delivery.
“While the immediate focus of the support is to deliver generation for the upcoming summer, the learnings and outcomes are expected to provide longer term benefits for the broader energy market,” AEMO chief executive officer Daniel Westerman said.
“This additional program aligns to complementary initiatives both within AEMO and across industry, such as the Connections Reform Initiative, to achieve a connections process that is responsive, efficient and predictable,” he said.
As part of the Connections Reform Initiative, AEMO leads a workstream to Streamline Connections Processes (SCP). This workstream is currently developing a timely, cost effective, efficient and fit for purpose connections process, based on the ideas and learnings gathered from industry over the last year. With the permission of industry, AEMO is also undertaking project trials to test these ideas.
“This government-funded project seeks to leverage the work currently being undertaken in the SCP workstream. By working directly with proponents, equipment manufacturers and NSPs to identify common, and not so common, barriers to the connection process, and solutions to remove those barriers,” Mr Westerman said.
“In the next decade, Australia will experience our first cluster of coal-generation retirements, equal to approximately 14 per cent of the NEM’s total capacity.
“Replacing coal with low-cost renewables, supported by firmed generation – batteries, pumped hydro, gas – and the timely investment in transmission, is needed to provide reliable, secure and affordable energy for all Australians,” he said.
In the 12 months to April, AEMO registered 17 new generation and storage projects totalling 2.22 GW of capacity. The overall number of new projects undergoing AEMO connection assessment across the NEM now remains high, with 163 projects representing 27.6 GW at stages from application through to commissioning.