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In its annual reliability outlook report, AEMO has predicted that Western Australia’s major power system will meet projected demand until 2025 if there is further investment in renewable technology.

AEMO’s report, the 2022 Wholesale Electricity Market (WEM) Electricity Statement of Opportunities (ESOO), forecasts and analyses peak demand and operational consumption across various scenarios over the next ten years in the South West Interconnected System (SWIS).

The report was modelled prior to the recent announcement by the Western Australia Government to close state-owned coal-fired power stations by 2030.

The WEM ESOO is an important step in the Reserve Capacity Mechanism (RCM), which ensures electricity reliability in the SWIS. 

The report sets the Reserve Capacity Requirement (RCR) for 2024-2025, which has been determined at 4,526MW.

AEMO’s Executive General Manager Western Australia and Strategy, Kate Ryan, said peak demand can be met with timely investment in new, firmed renewable capacity.

“The WEM ESOO forecasts annual peak demand growth of 0.9 per cent over the ten-year outlook period, due to increased energy use by industrial loads, growth in new housing connections, and the uptake of electric vehicles,” Ms Ryan said.

“New, firmed renewable capacity, such as the Western Australian Government’s plan to invest in new wind generation and battery storage projects as it retires coal-fired power stations, can help alleviate any projected shortfalls as the future of Western Australia’s power system takes shape towards 2030.”

The report forecasts a shallow shortfall of 21MW from 2025-26 following the retirement of Muja C in 2024 and as demand increases, which could potentially grow to 303MW by 2031-32 if no new capacity is committed.

The report affirms the rapid pace and scale of the transition underway in Western Australia’s power system, with distributed photovoltaic (PV) installations expected to grow at an average annual rate of 7 per cent (238MW per year) to reach an estimated 4,716MW of installed capacity by 2031-32 (29.8 per cent of underlying demand).

As a result, overall operational consumption is forecast to decline at an annual rate of 0.3 per cent over the outlook period. 

Further, forecast minimum operational demand, the demand for electricity from the grid, is expected to decline from the current record low of 765MW to 11MW by 2026-27 if left unconstrained. 

A range of measures have been introduced in recent years to maintain energy security during low demand conditions.

“With renewables already providing up to 78.6 per cent of power generation at any one point of time in the SWIS, AEMO is making every effort to develop tools that will enable grids that could run at times of up to 100 per cent peaks of instantaneous renewable generation by 2025,” Ms Ryan said.

“As the energy transition in Western Australia continues to accelerate, AEMO will keep working with the energy sector in Western Australia and Australia to share our learnings and expertise. 

“This will enable the transition to low-emissions energy whilst creating more opportunities for consumers to benefit from new, decentralised technologies like solar, batteries, and electric vehicles.”

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