Sufficient capacity to meet demand in Western Australia’s evolving power system

3 min

The Australian Energy Market Operator’s (AEMO) latest analysis observes connected and committed capacity in Western Australia’s (WA) South West Interconnected System (SWIS) is forecast to be sufficient to meet projected demand over the next 10 years.

Published today, AEMO’s 2019 Wholesale Electricity Market Electricity Statement of Opportunities (WEM ESOO) forecasts electricity demand and operational consumption across a range of scenarios over a 10-year outlook period to inform the decision-making processes of market participants, new investors, and policy-makers as they assess future development opportunities.

This WEM ESOO illustrates how the rapid uptake of behind the meter photovoltaic (PV), which includes both rooftop solar and large-scale commercial systems, is transforming the West’s major power system. As a result, both peak demand and operational consumption growth remain subdued.

“Based on the 10% Probability of Exceedance (POE) scenario, the Reserve Capacity Requirement for the 2021-2022 Capacity Year has been determined as 4,482 megawatts (MW), which is a slight decrease from the 4,581 MW target in 2020-21 identified in last year’s report,” said Cameron Parrotte, Executive General Manager, Western Australia.

Over 27% of WA households currently have rooftop PV installed and this number will increase in the coming years to reach an estimated 2,500 MW of installed capacity by 2028-29. AEMO also forecasts the trend of increased renewable generation capacity will continue, with the present level of 670 megawatts of nameplate capacity expected to increase to 1,215 megawatts by 2021.

“The growth of renewable generation in WA continues to drive a paradigm shift in the power system. These changes in the generation mix are in line with those observed in other electricity systems including the National Electricity Market (NEM) of eastern and southern Australia,” said Mr Parrotte.

The SWIS includes more than 1.1 gigawatts (GW) of connected behind the meter PV, which collectively has become the largest generator in the SWIS. This changes in the generation mix is leading to a reduction and displacement under certain seasonal and operating conditions of those generating units we historically relied upon to supply grid services, such as frequency control, inertia, system strength and good voltage control. 

To ensure the needs of the system are met as it transitions to a cleaner, but more variable market, AEMO believes the review of technical standards, regulatory, and market constructs are required, with practical and careful design needed to implement or incentivise new technologies in the SWIS.

“As the independent market and system operator, AEMO is working closely with both government and industry stakeholders to manage a smooth, secure transition to a lower emission future,” said Mr Parrotte.

“Projects like the Western Australian Government’s Energy Transformation Strategy, the upcoming WEM reviews, and further infrastructure development in the SWIS, are all well underway. These important developments are focused on ensuring consumer expectations for reliable, secure and affordable energy are addressed,” said Mr Parrotte.

For a deep dive into the WEM ESOO and its range of scenarios, check out our new podcast below:

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