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The AEMC has recommended a range of changes to the power system’s security framework in the recently released final report on mechanisms to enhance resilience in the power system.

The AEMC made recommendations to a range of new mechanisms to better manage risks to grid stability to help the market operator, AEMO, manage the risks of extreme events including severe storms. 

AEMC Acting Chief Executive, Suzanne Falvi, said that the report makes a number of recommendations to manage the risks associated with increasing frequency and duration of extreme weather events, along with the changing nature of the generation fleet and rapid growth in consumer-owned distributed energy resources.

“The AEMC intends to work closely with AEMO and the ESB in developing the rule changes recommended to enhance the resilience of the power system,” Ms Falvi said.

The report proposes a new annual review by AEMO to identify all emerging risks to the power system in six key areas: frequency, voltage, inertia, system strength, the prevalence of distributed energy resources, and the operation of special protection schemes. 

The risks identified through the annual review would then be addressed by transmission and distribution businesses in their formal planning processes, and would also inform AEMO’s Integrated System Plan.

The report also proposes a new way of managing “indistinct” risks to reflect of the changing power system. 

Currently, there are many more smaller generators dispersed throughout the system, as well as significant numbers of household rooftop solar and batteries, with variable output depending on the amount of wind and sunshine. This means there can be more rapid and unexpected changes in generation, which need to be managed. 

To assist AEMO better manage this uncertainty and address these indistinct risks, it has been recommended that they introduce a new “protected operation” tool that would enable AEMO to take proactive, cost-effective actions.

A third key recommendation is for a new general provision in the rules to give AEMO the flexibility to prioritise system security obligations while the spot market is suspended. This occurs when the market cannot operate as normal, for example following a black system event.  

The Commission has prepared suggested rule change requests to progress the recommendations made in the review. Together, the changes will make the system security framework: 

  • Broader – enabling AEMO to consider a wider range of extreme events 
  • Faster – streamlining the process for AEMO to identify risks and take proactive steps where cost-effective 
  • More flexible – enabling AEMO to respond to extreme risks to the power system which were not foreseen in its annual risk review

The final report also maps out an ongoing work program on power system resilience to meet future challenges. Working in partnership with the Energy Security Board, AEMO, industry, governments, consumer groups and other stakeholders, as well as the review’s technical working group, AEMC will progress a package of projects to complement the extensive work already underway to secure the system. 

Issues to be considered through the work program include:

  • Investigating how best to manage indistinct risks during normal operating conditions
  • Enhancing network planning processes so network businesses have more resilient networks 
  • Strengthening power system security standards for a more resilient system.
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