Friday 22nd Jun, 2018

AEMO eases blackout concerns ahead of 17/18 summer

Hazelwood power station. Photo: Creative Commons / Simpsons fan 66
Hazelwood power station. Photo: Creative Commons / Simpsons fan 66

Almost 2,000 megawatts of additional resources to generate energy will be available during the peak demand months of the upcoming summer season, the Australian Energy Market Operator has said.

In a recent report covering the “summer readiness” of Australia’s energy system, AEMO looked to ease the concerns of South Australian and Victorian homeowners and businesses over energy supply.

South Australia was hit with rolling blackouts last summer as a result of various failures of the East Coast energy network, and there are concerns Victoria could also suffer major blackouts in its first summer since the closure of the massive Hazelwood coal-burning power station in March this year.

“With work commencing in February, AEMO’s 2017/18 summer readiness action plan has focused on maximising the resources in the system, including reserves for emergencies, and active engagement with industry and government to ensure clear alignment and understanding of the requirements of the power system during periods of high electricity demand,” AEMO managing director Audrey Zibelman said.

“Since the closure of Hazelwood in March, AEMO is pleased to announce a total of close to 2,000 MW of additional resources will be available to the market for this summer.”

AEMO compiled the action plan after it identified a “heightened risk of supply disruptions” during the summer period in its recent Energy Supply Outlook.

Summer is the peak season for energy use in every Australian state and territory apart from Tasmania.

Additional resources identified in the action plan include the return of 833 MW of existing market generation capacity from gas-powered generators, and over 1,000 MW of generation and demand response resource reserves AEMO procured via the Reliability and Emergency Reserve Trader mechanism.

AEMO uses the RERT mechanism to maintain reserve contracts for electricity, in a program outside the wholesale electricity market. Large electricity users are contracted by AEMO to either use less energy or generate power from their own generators.

AEMO says it needs to enact the RERT procurement process after analysis highlighted a risk to power supply across Victoria and South Australia on extreme consumer demand periods for the coming summer.

“As the independent market and system operator, AEMO’s primary role is to maintain system balance by procuring resources to meet the demands of the system at a time and at a location where it is necessary,” Zibelman continued.

“We now have a range of dispatchable resources that can be used to strategically support the market as required, including battery storage, diesel generation and demand resources. AEMO is confident that we have taken all the necessary actions – and then some – to make sure we are ready.”