State of the System update

21/12/2021
10 min

Welcome to AEMO’s State of the System update, a round-up of developments, emerging issues and upcoming consultation opportunities relating to the National Electricity Market (NEM).

As always, we welcome feedback via stakeholderrelations@aemo.com.au or through our survey and encourage anyone who is interested in receiving future updates to subscribe.

AEMO wishes all of you a happy and safe holiday season. While our operations team will be keeping the lights on and gas flowing, the rest of AEMO, including the Stakeholder Relations team, will be offline from Thursday 23 December until Tuesday 4 January 2022.

The Draft Integrated System Plan (ISP) is out

The Draft 2022 Integrated System Plan (ISP) was published on 10 December 2021. It is a ‘whole of system plan’ that offers a roadmap for development in eastern Australia’s electricity system. On the same day, AEMO hosted a webinar, attended by more than 450 people, to talk through key details of the report.

The headline findings in the draft are:

  • After 18 months of consultation, stakeholders overwhelmingly nominated Step Change as the most likely future scenario. This scenario meets Australia’s net zero policy commitments, along with reflecting technology advancements, government ambitions and consumer preferences.
  • The Step Change (Central) scenario anticipates a transformation of the NEM to 2050 including:
    • A near doubling of electricity consumed from the grid, to 330 terawatt hours (TWh) as transport, heating, cooking and industrial processes are electrified.
    • Construction of nine times the NEM’s current utility-scale wind and solar generation capacity (from 15 GW to 140 GW).
    • Installation of four times the current distributed PV capacity (from 15 GW to 70 GW), with most coupled with an energy storage system.
    • Treble the firming capacity that can respond to a dispatch signal (including 30 GW at utility scale.)
  • Enabling this efficient transition for the NEM is forecast to deliver $29 billion in net market benefits, returning 2.5 times the investment value.

AEMO looks forward to further engagement on the Draft 2022 ISP. Submissions are open until 11 February 2022. Following that period the team will be hard at work finalising the 2022 ISP for publication in June 2022.

You can find all the draft material here.

Submissions should be emailed to ISP@aemo.com.au.

NEM Engineering major report published

In a big week for key publications, AEMO also published the Engineering Framework - Initial Roadmap on 8 December 2021. This roadmap highlights the operational and engineering requirements for an orderly transition of the NEM, particularly with high levels of renewable generation.

Developed over months of stakeholder consultation, the report builds on existing insights and collaboration during the development of the Engineering Framework March 2021 report and Operational Conditions report, summarising the technical requirements and strategic design decisions needed to enable the futures envisioned in the ISP.

The report summarises the outcomes and insights from the recent gap identification process undertaken in consultation with stakeholders, and presents an initial roadmap of key decisions and summary of potential priorities for industry consideration.

A Q&A forum will be held on 3 February 2022 for interested stakeholders. Please register for this session via this link.

Connections Reform Roadmap released

On the 16 December 2021, AEMO together with the Clean Energy Council released the Connections Reform Roadmap. The initiative used a new format of broad industry collaboration to find paths towards a connections process that is:

  • consistent, predictable and which delivers repeatable outcomes,
  • more efficient, with reduced re-work and improved quality and information.

More than 100 ideas were identified to improve the connections experience for all. Eleven reforms were then endorsed for either further detailed exploration, or in some cases direct implementation, subject to:

  • Finalisation of a Funding Mechanism – noting unanimous support for a compulsory fee on developers (fixed $/MW basis, over 3 years), and
  • Detailed Planning and Scheduling to ensure the program is ‘do-able’ alongside BAU and other demands (i.e. resource constrained).

Some reforms are already underway – network access, collaboration, BESS behind existing connection points, and guideline change management process.

For more detail, find the roadmap here.

System Security Reports

Today, AEMO released the 2021 System Strength, Inertia, and Network Support and Control Ancillary Services Reports (System Security Reports) in accordance with clauses 5.20.7, 5.20.5 and 5.20.3 of the National Electricity Rules (NER).

AEMO has identified system security needs across the NEM for the coming five-year period as the energy transformation continues at pace. Declining minimum operational demand, changing synchronous generator behaviour and rapid uptake of variable renewable energy resources combine to present opportunities in each region for delivery of innovative, essential power system services.

In summary, system strength shortfalls are declared in New South Wales and Queensland. Inertia shortfalls are declared in Queensland and South Australia. Voltage control gaps are declared in Queensland and South Australia, as well as a marginal gap in New South Wales. A voltage control gap may be declared in Victoria if the delivery of new reactors is delayed. In Tasmania, previous system strength and inertia shortfalls have now been resolved but this report notes their re-emergence when the existing services agreement ends.

You can read more here.

NEM Connections update

Since 1 October 2021, 6 new generators with a total capacity of 645 MWs achieved registration:

  • Hillston Sun Farm (NSW/85 MW)
  • Wallgrove BESS 1 (NSW/50 MW)
  • Sebastopol Solar Farm (NSW/90 MW)
  • Adelaide Desalination Plant (SA/12 MW) (capacity increase from 14 MW to 26 MW)
  • Western Downs Green Power Hub (QLD/400 MW)
  • SA Water Bolivar Waste Water Treatment (WWT) Plant (SA/8 MW)

There are also 2 generators (369 MW) that completed commissioning and are in full operation:

  • Goonumbla Solar Farm (NSW/69 MW)
  • Victorian Big Battery (VIC/300 MW)

West Murray Zone update

AEMO continues to work closely with network service providers (NSP) on the integration assessment for projects in the West Murray Zone (WMZ). Three projects are undergoing integration assessment and a further four projects are anticipated to commence integration assessment in the coming months.

Connecting projects within the WMZ remains challenging in terms of capacity. If you are still planning on moving forward with your project, please ensure you are working closely with your respective NSP and are completing all the requirements needed and as outlined in AEMO’s Connecting generators in the West Murray Zone – sequencing uncommitted projects.

AEMO's National Connections team remain committed to working with all NSPs and developers who want to progress projects in the WMZ, but it is critical for developers at every stage to keep in regular contact with the relevant NSP and inform themselves of all potential impacts of WMZ congestion on their project.

If you are unsure if your project is in the WMZ, please see the WMZ map on the AEMO website here or alternatively, please contact your connecting NSP.

Intermittent Power System Oscillations

AEMO has observed intermittent power system oscillations in the WMZ under a variety of conditions. On 25 August 2021, AEMO held an industry briefing to present and answer questions on the oscillations.

At the briefing, AEMO agreed to publish data for stakeholders to analyse. Data for eight events are available. These eight events provide diversity in terms of operating condition, magnitude, time and duration in the occurrence of this oscillation. A User-Guide which has some information on how to interpret this data is also available.

On 16 November 2021, oscillations with large magnitudes reaching 4% peak-to-peak at Wemen Terminal Station were observed while a transformer was out of service. The measurements recorded by the CT-Labs monitoring equipment installed at the terminal station is shown below. AEMO has initiated a review of this incident under the clause of 4.8.15 of the National Electricity Rules.

As of 30 November 2021, the oscillations remain largely the same size in magnitude and duration with the root-cause remaining largely unknown.

AEMO is working closely with AusNet, Powercor and relevant participants to resolve the issue. AusNet have installed additional CT-Labs monitoring equipment around Wemen area which is helping the investigation. AusNet and Powercor are working together to increase high resolution monitoring in the area.

The SA synchronous condensers are up and running

To fill the declared system strength gap in South Australia, ElectraNet has commissioned four large synchronous condensers, two at Davenport and two at Robertstown.

All four synchronous condensers have been commissioned, and system tests completed. AEMO and ElectraNet have also completed the final steps required to ensure that the South Australian power system can be operated securely with all four synchronous condensers, and a reduced number of synchronous generators, in service.

Transfer limits advice applicable to four synchronous condenser operations was implemented on 25 November 2021.

The key outcome is that there is no shortfall in system strength in South Australia with the full operation of the four synchronous condensers, allowing dispatch of up to ~2,500 MW of online inverter-based resources. For now, at least two large synchronous thermal generators are required online in South Australia in 'system normal' conditions to provide essential system support that may not otherwise be provided in the South Australian system. AEMO is continuing its work, with Electranet, to define the system security needs for South Australia with four synchronous condensers in operation.

In early December, AEMO ran an information session for the industry, and slides can be found here. Other relevant information including a fact sheet can be found here.

Queensland-NSW Interconnector (QNI) upgrade

Upgrading the Queensland-NSW Interconnector (QNI) was identified as a priority by both AEMO in the 2020 ISP and by the NSW Government in the NSW Transmission Infrastructure Strategy. Boosting interstate transmission capacity and increasing power flow on existing lines will make it easier and more efficient to share power generation across the NEM, helping improve reliability and put downward pressure on market prices.

The scope of the project involves upgrading existing transmission lines and installing additional dynamic voltage control equipment, including Static Var Compensators (SVCs) and static reactive plant (capacitors), all in NSW. Implementation and commissioning of these works is currently underway. However, the commissioning of the SVCs is not anticipated to be completed until May 2022.

To support the safe and timely release of new inter-network capacity, AEMO is working with Transgrid and Powerlink to develop a test program in accordance with clause 5.7.7 of the National Electricity Rules. Consultation undertaken as part of the 5.7.7 process will provide stakeholders an opportunity to provide feedback on the tests proposed.

Inter-network testing to release capacity will commence only following the commissioning of the SVCs. These tests are anticipated to commence in May 2022. Additional capacity will be released to the market in stages following confirmation of system security at these interim hold points. The ultimate or design capacity of the interconnector may not be finally tested until mid-2023 when the necessary transfers can be realised, associated with line thermal limits and lower ambient temperature conditions in the winter period.

AEMO will commence industry engagement regarding the test plan in the coming months, including consultation regarding proposed test and monitoring arrangements. Please visit our consultation page.

For more info, see the Transgrid website.

Victoria to New South Wales Interconnector West (VNI West) Progress Update

Earlier this month, the AER granted a further extension to the VNI West PADR publication date from 10 December 2021 to 31 August 2022. The extended timeframe will enable Transgrid and AEMO to update market modelling to reflect:

  • Transgrid’s commitment to the ‘Project Energy Connect enhanced’ 500 kV investment between Dinawan and Wagga in New South Wales, which is supported by the Federal Government,
  • Key industry changes such as the earlier closure of Energy Australia’s Yallourn Power Station in Victoria,
  • Energy Australia’s announced Jeeralang Battery in Victoria,
  • The New South Wales Government’s Electricity Infrastructure Roadmap and,
  • AEMO’s 2021 Inputs, Assumptions and Scenarios Report (IASR), including any updates to the likelihood of each scenario.

Also this month, AEMO published an Update to the 2020 ISP, along with the Draft 2022 ISP.

The Draft 2022 ISP optimal development path identifies VNI West (via Kerang) as an Actionable ISP Project with staging and decision rules, and the Update to the 2020 ISP requires that the VNI West RIT-T use the ISP scenarios and scenario weightings set out in the Draft 2022 ISP.


This means that under the Actionable ISP framework, the VNI West RIT-T assessment will focus on the VNI West (via Kerang) ISP candidate option identified in the Draft 2022 ISP, along with credible non-network options.

These changes were published in a joint AEMO and Transgrid Progress Update, available here.

We value stakeholder feedback and advice on this project. Formal consultation on the PADR will occur next year after the report has been published, but feedback is welcome anytime.

For more information visit AEMO’s VNI West RIT-T webpage.

Improving connections in the Victorian Transmission System

AEMO has heard from project proponents that they want greater certainty about their proposed connection as early as possible. AEMO shares the desire for an efficient connection process and clear communications between all parties.

Listed below are some of the changes we have made (or will soon be making) to meet these needs. This is important ground work to manage the increased volume and complexity of Victorian connection applications.

Underway

Providing detailed timelines for your connection

The Victorian Connections team has increased so now we’re able to engage with every connection proponent on a tailored connection timeline specific to their project/s. This approach provides both parties with a greater understanding of the likely time and effort required throughout the connection process, enabling better project planning. It includes regular project meetings to review progress and identify any critical path hurdles, as well as dedicated workshops to problem solve across all parties.

Improved connection enquiry responses

We have reviewed and updated our approach to connection enquiry responses. Aside from a new look, your enquiry response now includes information beyond the minimum required, such as:

  • Alternative connection options,
  • Early identification of locational challenges,
  • Clear ‘next steps’ should you wish to progress to a connection application.

Trialling a 'pre-application' service

We are trialling an optional ‘pre-application’ service with several proponents to test:

  1. AEMO providing greater certainty about the proposed connection sooner.
  1. Working with proponents to improve the overall connection process by identifying potential constraints earlier, improving application package quality and reducing rework.

In the 'pre-application' stage, AEMO can provide more detailed information on:

  • Program of work required to connect your project to the Victorian transmission network, and any coordination required with other projects or NSP.
  • Locational network information that can affect your project, including potential network constraints and system strength.
  • Infrastructure required to connect your project to the transmission network, and the commercial terms and conditions underpinning this work.
  • System model and performance standards required for your project, noting locational needs.
  • Preliminary model tuning that may be required to ensure your project can meet its performance standards.

We expect to formalise the 'pre-application' service in the first half of 2022, making appropriate adjustments based on learnings from the trial.

Coming Up

Providing more information on approximate connection process costs

Based on their experience of connection projects, the Victorian Connections team are developing a generic connection project schedule with associated generic costs. Project proponents and AEMO will be able to use these standardised costs as the basis for estimating the connection costs for their own project. For example,

  • More complex, lengthy projects will be more costly as compared to the generic costs.
  • Simpler, quicker connections will likely be cheaper than the standardised costs.

We expect to launch this service in early 2022.

Industry information sessions and education opportunities

We are intending to run a series of information sessions in 2022 on matters relating to connecting to the Victorian transmission system. These webinars will keep proponents informed of connection issues as they arise and are expected to provide industry stakeholders and AEMO’s Victorian Connections team with an opportunity to share information and insights. We’re currently developing a forward agenda to share with industry early in 2022. In the meantime, we’re interested in hearing from proponents on any matters you’d like covered in an information session via connections@aemo.com.au.

Separately, AEMO runs a training course on the NEM connections process. We expect to repeat the Victorian-specific training module as part of that course in 2022. Please see the information in this newsletter about timing for upcoming training courses.

Also note that both the information sessions and training course will be advertised on AEMO’s website and through its AEMO Communications weekly e-newsletter.

Further information on Victorian transmission connections:

DMAT Guideline revision

Following the release of the initial Dynamic Model Acceptance Test (DMAT) Guideline in February 2021, AEMO consulted with a broad range of stakeholders to publish the November 2021 DMAT Guideline.

The updated guidelines seek to address feedback received from the previous DMAT guideline, which was largely focused around the workload burden that was imposed on the proponents and OEMs to produce DMAT reports but also for NSPs to evaluate.

During the consultation, we listened and considered stakeholder’s feedback, which included proponents, NSPs and OEMs.

The guideline now includes a mandatory set of minimum tests to be performed when PSS®E models are submitted to AEMO. Further, it also includes more guidance on non-fortran/wrapper based PSS®E models.

AEMO will be running industry workshops in the coming weeks to share how the DMAT Guideline will be implemented and to answer any queries. Express your interest in the workshops by emailing: nem.connections@aemo.com.au.

AEMO transition to PSCAD V5

AEMO is in the process of uplifting its PSCAD modelling capability and is requesting industry support with the transition from PSCAD V4 to PSCAD V5 and the latest Intel OneAPI Fortran Compiler Classic 2021.x. The transition will resolve key obsolescence issues and enable AEMO to continue operating the Australia-wide network model for the foreseeable future.

It will also provide a wide range of benefits which include, improved modelling performance, efficiency and cost, reduced simulation time and improved IT supportability. Further information is available in AEMO's recently published fact sheet.

AEMO presently anticipates that the full transition to PSCAD V5 and the Intel Fortran Compiler Classic 2021.x will be completed by July 2022. AEMO will be holding a Q&A session with industry on the 9 February 2022 to provide participants the opportunity to further engage with AEMO on this transition. Please register your interest for this session here.

Do you need to submit the PSS®E model source code and block diagrams for your project?

To help reinforce more effective project data management, AEMO has set up a new email address for submission of project’s PSS®E model source code and block diagrams.

Please submit your project’s model source code and block diagrams to pssesourcecode@aemo.com.au, and don’t forget to include in your submission the following information:

  • full project name,
  • the region where the project is located,
  • the model version, and
  • matching dyr file with the source code.

Upcoming Energy Education courses

Looking to learn something new about our evolving industry? Then look no further because our energy education calendar for 2022 is now available on the AEMO website.

Set out for the next four months, this calendar highlights the comprehensive list of AEMO-run gas and electricity courses. As a result of increased demand and interest from industry, government, and regulatory bodies, AEMO is this year delivering more courses to provide a better understanding of the complexities of Australia’s existing and emerging energy systems and markets.

Our most popular courses include:

The NEM Overview – this course is ideal for anyone new to the energy sector or for those looking for a refresher. and is a pre-requisite before attending the NEM Overview.

Connecting and Registering Generators in the NEM – this two half-day course aims to assist individuals and organisations directly involved in connecting and registering generators in the NEM.

In 2022, selected courses will be offered face-to-face in NEM capital cities including Melbourne, Sydney, Canberra, Brisbane, Adelaide, and Hobart. Virtual course delivery will continue to be available. The Western Australian Wholesale Electricity Market (WEM) Introduction, WEM: Power Systems and Energy Markets, Reserve Capacity Mechanism education courses continue to be offered face-to-face in Perth, and virtually biannually.

All courses are open to existing and intending market participants, government, energy industry members and other interested parties. To explore, enrol and pay for AEMO energy education courses, visit the AEMO Learning Academy.

Please direct any enquiries to energyeducation@aemo.com.au.

Useful resources

To follow the latest news and updates from AEMO you can subscribe to a number of our newsletters on our subscribe page, or check out our newsroom.  

Latest publications:

  1. Quarterly Energy Dynamics - Q2 2021
  2. Victorian Annual Planning Report
  3. AEMO Annual Report 2020 - 2021
  4. NEM Engineering Framework Initial Roadmap
  5. 2021 Western Australia Gas Statement of Opportunities

Did you find this update on the State of the System interesting or useful

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