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Ahead of its expected launch late this year, the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) has completed pilot testing for its world-first ‘connections simulator’, allowing users to conduct independent modelling for new generation and storage projects soon-to-be connected to Australia’s National Electricity Market (NEM).

Commencing in March 2022, the pilot included generation developers, power system engineering consultants and energy equipment manufacturers to test the end-to-end user experience, including portal access, features and navigation, and importantly running project modelling studies.

AEMO Executive General Manager System Design, Merryn York, said the innovative resource will support Australia’s energy transition.

“In the next decade, Australia will experience our first cluster of coal-generation retirements, equal to approximately 14 per cent of the NEM’s total capacity, which will challenge electricity reliability and power system security,” Ms York said.

“Replacing coal with low-cost renewables, supported by firmed generation and the timely investment in transmission, is needed to provide reliable, secure and affordable energy for all Australians.

“The Connections Simulation Tool will contribute by helping reduce risks, costs and time to approve the connection of new generation and storage projects, critical to replace retiring coal generation.”

With funding support from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency’s (ARENA) Advancing Renewables Program, the connections tool is one of AEMO’s initiatives to streamline the connection process and experience for participants. 

Other projects include the Connection Reform Initiative, a partnership with the Clean Energy Council to remove delays and deal with the increasing complexity in connecting projects to the NEM.

During the year, AEMO registered 29 new generation and storage projects totalling 4GW of capacity, an increase of 1GW from last year and 2GW from the 2020-21 financial year.

This included Australia’s largest battery (Victorian Big Battery, 300MW), largest solar farm (Western Downs Green Power Hub, 400MW) and largest wind farm (Stockyard Hill, 511MW).

“In addition to the growth in the number of new projects and generation capacity, Australia is also breaking new ground with designing, testing and connecting new technologies, such as grid-forming batteries that provide inertia services,” Ms York said.

The overall number of projects undergoing AEMO connection assessment across the NEM now remains high, with 149 projects representing 22.3GW at stages from application through to commissioning.”

For more information, and to register your interest for AEMO’s Connections Simulation Tool, visit: https://www.aemo.com.au/initiatives/trials-and-initiatives/connections-simulation-tool.

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