The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) will build a cloud-based resource available for developers to test and tune power system models for new generation projects planning to connect to Australia’s National Electricity Market (NEM).
With funding support from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency’s (ARENA) Advancing Renewables Program, the connection simulation tool will help reduce risks, costs and time to approve the connection of new generation projects.
AEMO CEO, Daniel Westerman, said: “Our energy sector continues to move through its most extensive transformation in a century, leading the world in the uptake of renewable generation on a per capita basis.
“As Australia’s power system operator, we’re collaborating with the industry to provide the expertise and resources to design and operate a sustainable energy system that provides safe, reliable and affordable energy for all Australians.
“The connections simulator will give developers the option to utilise the wide-area power system information used by AEMO for the first time to evaluate their project models quickly and efficiently. This will help enable new generation and storage capacity into the power system,” he said.
In the past four years, AEMO has worked with developers and network businesses to connect 121 new generation projects. Despite this growth, there are 97 gigawatts (GW) of proposed generation projects, double today’s capacity for the NEM. This includes 46 GW of wind, 33 GW of solar and 10 GW of hydro.
Large volumes of weather-dependent, inverter-based renewable projects are concentrated in areas with plentiful wind and solar resources. However, these projects are often located in electrically weak parts of the grid, prone to poor system strength and thermal and capacity limits. This is presenting unique technical complexities, when combined with regulatory and project-specific issues, contributing to delayed connections.
Testing will commence with industry participants in August on a working prototype, with a staged rollout of the connection simulator expected at the end of 2021. AEMO will work transparently with industry, engage with trial users, and incorporate stakeholder feedback at each stage.
In addition, to further deliver on AEMO’s responsibility to operate today’s power system and navigate the energy future, AEMO is investing in an in-house, operations simulator. This ‘digital twin’ of the NEM will allow fast and highly detailed analysis of the grid’s behaviour, especially during critical network events.
“AEMO strives to be a world-leading energy system and market operator and system planner, for our members, market participants and every Australian consumer,” Mr Westerman said.
“Given the increasing portion of renewables with technically complex control systems, the operations simulator will enhance AEMO’s ability to prepare for and quickly respond to events threatening secure power-system operations,” he said.