Synchronous condenser testing on track to increase renewable contribution into the NEM

2 min

For the first time in Australia, high-inertia synchronous condensers being installed in South Australia will reduce the role of dispatchable generation to provide critical power system operation services.

These services, such as system strength and inertia, will allow higher proportions of renewable generation.

As the national transmission planner, AEMO identified and declared system strength and inertia shortfalls in South Australia.

System strength refers to the ability of the power system to maintain and control the voltage waveform at any given location in the power system, and inertia is a fundamental property of power systems that reduces the rate at which power system frequency changes following a disturbance.

Once the shortfalls were identified, South Australia’s transmission network service provider, ElectraNet, has been working to procure and install four high-inertia synchronous condensers.

AEMO Chief Operations Officer, Michael Gatt, said: “To ensure system strength requirements in South Australia are met on a day-to-day basis, AEMO currently directs gas-fired power stations to dispatch synchronous generation into the market.”

“In addition, up to four gas-fired generation units are continually in service to provide system security, supporting the state’s high penetration of non-synchronous generation, wind and rooftop solar PV,” he said.

ElectraNet is now in the process of commissioning the four high-inertia synchronous condensers at Davenport and Robertstown.

“Once the synchronous condensers are commissioned, AEMO will work with ElectraNet to test and monitor the condensers’ performance over several weeks, gradually increasing South Australia’s levels of solar and wind generation by up to 2,500 megawatts,” Mr Gatt said.

“This will be a positive outcome for South Australian consumers with access to greater volumes of cost-effective renewable energy,” he said.

Following the testing and successful monitoring, AEMO will transition from the continual operation of four to a minimum of two gas-fired generators to ensure power system security.

In 2020, AEMO declared additional inertia requirements for South Australia and is working through solutions with ElectraNet.

For further information on critical services to cope with unexpected events and stay within the power system operational design limits, including inertia, please read our Power System Requirements paper.

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