AEMC: power mix to blame for grid instability

The Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC) says the country’s main electricity grid is becoming increasingly unstable, and at the mercy of weather conditions, with 11 incidents having been recorded in 2016-17, up from seven in 2015 and just four in 2014.

The growing instability is a result of changes in the power mix as thermal, synchronous energy generators abandon the current system in favour of renewable energy, which makes the primary grid dependent on weather.

NEG Policy

Jay Weatherill has spearheaded the resistance in South Australia to the level of Turnbull’s proposal, which is expected to provide practical solutions to some of the issues affecting Australia’s electricity network. This includes enforcement of fresh reliability and emissions reduction guarantees on Australian energy retailers and big energy consumers starting 2020.

Currently, the Energy Security Board is steering consultations with various stakeholders regarding the design of the policy, which will be tabled before state and federal energy ministers for consideration on 20 April.

Even though the Turnbull government is backing the proposed national energy guarantee as a crucial mechanism to stem climate wars that have existed for over a decade, there are a few stakeholders including environmental analysts and groups who have criticized the proposal citing that it falls short of delivering the scale of emission reductions that align with the country’s commitment to the Paris Agreement.

The latest model released by Reputex, a group of market analysts also suggested that the electricity industry’s emission reduction target proposed by the Turnbull government can be met owing to the state renewable energy targets that could render the federal government’s proposal redundant in terms of climate matters.

AEMC Report

Meanwhile, the AEMC has issued new reports that provide comprehensive assessment of the electricity system’s reliability. According to the report, system security problems have increased as a result of the system’s low synchronous generation and alterations in how generating units are operated.

The AEMC report further shows that the level of primary frequency control has fallen as well as related degradation of the frequency distribution—which has serious effects on the entire grid.

The AEMC report also indicates that “over the last few years there has been a decreasing level of system inertia due to the withdrawal of synchronous thermal generation and increased penetration of non-synchronous generation” – an advancement that can “result in the failure of load or generation”.

The report further reveals that 2016-17 recorded 11 incidents which included the statewide power outages in South Australia.

According to the report, the frequency operating standard for the mainland was achieved during the year but the same was not met for Tasmania for a period of seven months during the 2016/17 financial year.

The Author

I took an interest in the Australian energy sector close to ten years ago and since then have monitored the trends, technologies and direction of the Australian Energy Market. I was drawn to the Australian solar market in 2008 and since then have worked heavily in the field. I am partnered with national and international solar energy companies, from manufacturers of solar panel and inverter technology, online software developers that introduce tools to quote, monitor and manage solar power systems and media organisations who like myself, closely monitor the solar and renewable energy sector.