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The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) has published its 2022 system security reports, as well as its newest Engineering Roadmap to 100% Renewables report to outline the actions needed to convert Australia’s National Electricity Market (NEM) to fully renewable energy generation. 

Building on previous stakeholder consultation and Engineering Framework publications, the roadmap supports industry discussion and prioritised investment as the renewable resource potential in the NEM increases to meet 100 per cent of demand as early as 2025.

AEMO CEO, Daniel Westerman, said, “Australia is transitioning from a historic dependency on coal generation to higher levels of renewable energy, supported by firming technologies, like pumped hydro, batteries and gas generation, and transmission developments to share low-cost sources of energy to our towns and cities.

“Complementing these investments is the shared responsibility to also re-engineer the power system to run reliably and securely on higher levels of renewable energy.

“Being ready to operate the power system with high penetration levels of renewables is critical to ensure a smooth energy transition, meet Australia’s emission reduction commitments and ensure reliable, secure and affordable energy for consumers into the future.”

While the report is focused on the NEM, learnings are being applied to Western Australia’s South West Interconnected System (SWIS) and Wholesale Electricity Market (WEM).

The roadmap is divided into three broad technical themes – power system security, system operability and resource adequacy – with associated preconditions and actions to operate NEM for periods of up to 100 per cent renewable generation.

“The roadmap provides a clear view of the urgent engineering and operational steps required to be ready to leverage the benefits of high renewable generation levels,” Mr Westerman said.

This includes investigating new sources of firming capacity, system restoration, and system strength services, including energy storage. Initial analysis indicates the equivalent of up to 40 large synchronous condensers may be needed for 100 per cent renewable penetration, potentially provided by a range of technologies.

At the same time, AEMO published its latest assessment of system security needs across the NEM, evaluating what is needed to ensure power system security as the power system transitions to a greater reliance on firmed renewables.

The System Strength, Inertia and Network Support and Control Ancillary Services (NSCAS) reports flag existing and emerging shortfalls, gaps and requirements.

For the first time, these reports also include an assessment of system requirements at times of 100 per cent renewable generation. The transmission networks planners in each region are responsible for procuring solutions to ensure system security, with a mix of likely solutions available.

“Importantly, further work will be needed to ensure that any investment decisions to deliver the engineering requirements are made in the long term interests of consumers, and underpinned by efficient regulatory and market solutions,” Mr Westerman said.

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