WA renewable energy SWIS

A new report suggests Western Australia’s electricity generation capacity is sufficient to meet demand in the South West Interconnected System forecast for at least a decade.

The report, 2020 Wholesale Electricity Market Electricity Statement of Opportunities (WEM ESOO), forecasts electricity demand and operational consumption across a range of scenarios in WA over a ten-year period.

Published by the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO), it is designed to inform the decision-making processes of market participants, new investors, and policy makers as they assess future development opportunities in the WEM.

Consistent with findings released in 2019, and assuming there are no major changes to committed capacity, the report forecasts sufficient capacity will be available over the ten-year outlook period – despite the staged retirement of Muja C units in the coming years.

AEMO’s Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Audrey Zibelman, said the report illustrated how the west’s major power system is “transforming towards a more decentralised, democratised, and digitalised system, as increasing numbers of households and businesses invest in behind-the-meter solar photovoltaic (PV), storage systems, and energy efficiency improvements”.

As a result, the report forecasts that both peak demand and net consumption growth will remain subdued over the outlook period, and we’ll see a likely shift in the timing of peak demand in WA from between 5pm and 6pm to after 6:30pm by 2023-24.

While currently over 28.8 per cent of WA households have rooftop solar PV installed, behind-the-meter PV is set to increase in the coming years to reach an estimated 2612MW of installed capacity by 2029-30, entrenching its place as the single largest generator on the system.

Cameron Parrotte, AEMO’s Executive General Manager, WA, said this world-leading adoption of rooftop solar PV and the changes in the generation mix, also observed in the National Electricity Market (NEM) of eastern and southern Australia, presented both operational challenges and exciting opportunities.

“Close collaboration between AEMO, market bodies, industry, and state government will be critical to ensure the needs of the system are met as it transitions to a cleaner, but more dispersed and variable market,” Mr Parrotte said.

This WEM ESOO also considers the relatively short-lived impacts of the global COVID-19 pandemic on the WA power system. 

These impacts combined with the continued increased uptake of behind-the-meter PV results in peak demand growth being dampened until 2023-24.

“Based on the expected ten per cent Probability of Exceedance (POE) scenario, the Reserve Capacity Requirement for the 2022-2023 Capacity Year has been determined as 4421MW, which is a slight decrease from the 4482MW requirement for the 2021-22 Capacity Year,” Mr Parotte said.

The WEM ESOO observes that minimum operational demand levels are forecast to decrease in line with the continued rapid uptake of behind-the-meter PV. 

As Western Australia sees increasing levels of non-traditional generators coming online, new standards and system services are required to keep the power system secure and reliable.

These challenges are set to be addressed through the Delivering the Future Power System and the Distributed Energy Resources workstreams being developed as part of the WA Government’s Energy Transformation Strategy. 

These initiatives will also facilitate greater optimisation of distributed resources, such as PV, for the benefit of Australian consumers and the WA power system.

“AEMO believes the review of technical standards, regulatory, and market constructs are required, with practical and careful design needed to implement or incentivise new technologies in the SWIS. A number of industry projects are underway which are focused on ensuring consumer expectations for reliable, secure and affordable energy are being addressed,” Mr Parotte said.

“To leverage the opportunities and navigate the challenges of a transforming industry, AEMO will continue to work closely with all parties in the best interest of consumers, to help shape a better energy future for all West Australians.”

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