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AEMO relaxes constraints on wind power in South Australia

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The Australian Energy Market Operator has relaxed limits on wind generation in South Australia, as it continues to review the system strength needs of the grid with the highest penetration of wind and solar in the world.

In the wake of the state’s system black last year and subsequent reviews, AEMO imposed new rules that came into force in July that required a minimum amount of “synchronous” generation, and would impose constraints on wind output if those minimum requirements could not be met.

The rule was seen as heavy handed by some in the industry, but AEMO is gradually relaxing the limits and constraints as it conducts further studies into how the system can be managed with a high and growing share of variable renewables.

In a market notice published last Friday, AEMO said the  limit for higher levels of non-synchronous generation (essentially wind at the moment) when only a minimum strength requirement is met had been increased from 1200MW to 1295MW.

It has also increased the trigger point for higher levels of synchronous generation from 1700MW of non-synchronous generation to 1870MW. It has also added to the “variations” of gas generators required at any point in time.

AEMO says it plans a further update in January, and it is expected that it will gradually loosen the controls as it becomes more comfortable with the new technology.

When those limits are passed, AEMO will instruct certain wind farms to “spill” excess capacity if not enough gas generators are switched on at the time.

In an interview with RenewEconomy’s weekly Energy Insiders podcast this week, AEMO chief executive Audrey Zibelman admitted there was still a lot of work to do to fully understand how a high penetration renewable energy system works.

“It will take time for us to develop the capabilities to manage that,” Zibelman said. “We need to make sure that our lack of understanding does not become a barrier (to new technologies).”

South Australia currently sources more than 50 per cent of its electricity demand from large-scale wind and rooftop solar, with about 1,800MW of wind and 740MW of rooftop solar in place.

Another 650MW of large-scale wind and solar are under construction, another 1GW in the pipeline, and households and businesses are still adding 100MW of rooftop solar a year.

Rainer Korte, the head of asset management at Electranet, the operator of the state’s transmission infrastructure, said late last month that there had been “a lot of wind spill” over the last 4-5 months because of the AEMO cap.

But he said that ElectraNet was not expecting those limits to be in place in the long term, because the market operator would learn to use new technologies and new investments in network infrastructure and storage.

Korte pointed to a recent ElectraNet study on a proposal for an upgraded transmission line on the Eyre Peninsula – the very end of Australia’s elongated network – to help address issues that arose from the system black last year and ongoing unreliability.

That study says an upgraded line would deliver more savings to consumers over the long term because it would allow more wind generation in the region – Macquarie’s green grid proposal outlined 4,000MW of wind resources in the area – and encourage new loads from mining opportunities.

But the transmission proposal is facing competition from other ideas: SA Power Networks, which operates the local grid, favours distributed generation, while battery storage manufacturers support more storage that they say will reduce the need for major new transmission lines.  

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  • Joe

    …and all that Two Tongues Turnbull can offer is the more of the same ( like last night Q & A ABC TV ) name calling like idiocy & ideology of SA. You know when someone has lost the argument when they have nothing positive to offer. The very successful SA transition to RE is showing up Turnbull as a do nothing for the the future clown. It is criminal.

  • Steve S

    In ElectraNet’s report on new transmission lines on Eyre Peninsula, the preferred option (4B), which only services the eastern coast of Eyre Peninsula, is rated at 600MVA and allows to connect 1000MW of wind. It is quite a shortfall on the Green Grid report of 4,000 MW of wind. It also does not take into account the solar resource of 4,000 MW. ie Option 4B caters for 12.5% of the total resource

  • pinionhead

    Let’s not confuse 1800MW of wind nameplate capacity, with ‘sourcing’. Subtle difference. I am pretty sure SA had not sourced 1800MW wind +740MW solar at the same time. Nameplate capacity is far different for wind than a gas or coal power station that are dispatchable 24/7 at their nameplate.

    • Boy, you sure managed to cram in a lot of errors into one short paragraph. I guess that is what trolling teaches you.
      AEMO constraints here refer to the upper limit of 1870MW of actual generation. It’s got nothing to do with nameplate capacity. Besides which, the idea that coal or gas provides dispatchable 24/7 generation at their nameplate is a myth. Just check out liddell, or yallourn, or loy yang a, or tallawarra, or colongra, or stanwell, or gladstone, or any other.

      • pinionhead

        Oops. Misinterpreted this .. ” South Australia currently sources more than 50 per cent of its electricity demand from large-scale wind and rooftop solar, with about 1,800MW of wind and 740MW of rooftop solar in place.”

        • MikeH

          The energy efficiency of coal plants is about 30-35%. Why not troll about that waste? And there are very few coal plants achieving 95% capacity factor. The NSW coal fleet struggles to reach 60%. And excess wind and solar can be used to charge up batteries, PHES, EVs etc.

          • pinionhead

            Interesting. How would you compare the efficiency of a wind turbine to gas or coal? I would consider the amount I can achieve on DEMAND as a large factor in its overall efficiency.

        • OK, i’ll bite. Can you name me a single coal generator in australia that operates at 95% of capacity. Can you explain all the back-up built to support those generators. Why is it ok for fossil fuels to have back up but not wind or solar?

          • pinionhead

            You are correct. Coal doesn’t. The upgrade costs were not feasible due to the wind getting free dispatch at high price and coal losing market share. AGL is going green, killing Liddell, cos subsidies from wind are far more profitable than fighting the system running coal at a loss.
            As you know gas plants are new than the of coal plants and operates above 95% capacity.
            Again, coal is reliable and dispatchable regardless of capacity factor. These capacity factors are known in the coal situation. Wind capacity is always unknown and unreliable.

          • OK, go on. find me a gas plant that runs at 95% capacity. In fact, find me one that operates at 50% capacity! And what the hell does this mean: “Again, coal is reliable and dispatchable regardless of capacity factor.” are you confusing the notes that have been provided to you?

          • pinionhead

            Giles, we have a misunderstanding. All gas plants can run at 100% capacity, without market restrictions. Demand gas power and they will produce power. 100%, 24/7. The point that aemo can call a gas plant in an emergency and override market profitability and demand it to run to keep the grid up. Hrs the main point… Pay attention…. Aemo can’t call a solar plant or wind plant in emergency.
            All gas plants can run at full capacity if demanded. And they are more efficient if they run at full capacity, but wind cuts into it 10MW at a time. Death by a thousand cuts.

          • Tallawarra and Colongra gas plants were demanded by aemo in February. They tripped, and provided zero MW. Fortunately, AEMO could rely on solar, which did what it was supposed to do and helped avoid more load shedding, causing even the Coalition NSW minister to wax lyrical
            Ditto Pelican Point and Torrens in South Australia a month later. the lights stayed on that day thanks to wind. Most gas plants can’t get anywhere near their rated capacity on hot days, which is when they are needed to.

          • pinionhead

            Like ANY industrial plant that sits for extended periods instead of running every day as designed, it can fail if sporadically and infrequently called. It is called re-commissioning after an extended outage. Simply, CCGT are not designed to sit idle for extended periods. You cannot be surprised if a plant fails after an extended outage. OCGT have less complex sytems and are designed to tolerate longer idleness. I am curious to learn what tripped Colongra on the occasion you mention. Could be that it also sat without use. Reliability can only be measured when things are called on with regularity. To increase reliability, you would operate the backup plants with more regularity to pre-identify points of failure to prevent failures in future urgent demand situations. Perhaps AEMO is not operating the backup system assets with enough frequency? But what do I know? I just worked at CCGT power stations for 15 yrs, operating, designing, commissioning, maintaining devices and control systems.
            Relying on solar is madness until you are able to control clouds and the sun. For fairness, please tell me how reliable wind and solar. Imagine shutting off all gas and coal to see how reliable wind (add batteries) and solar really are. Then compare the cost to obtain the same reliability for fossil fuel to wind/solar with battery backup.

          • Ren Stimpy

            Why should we pay high power prices to keep a high-cost gas plant running around the clock – even at times when it is not needed – just because of the physical/design limitations of that type of plant (namely the specification that it needs to be running all the time to prevent failure)?

            There are far too many alternatives in fast-switching dispatchable electricity generation (e.g. hydro/pumped-hydro, interconnectors, grid batteries and powerwalls, also fast-switching demand response, also a wealth of energy efficiency options) so why indulge a high-cost fossil-fuel-burning design-limited gas plant which needs to be running around the clock to remain reliable?

          • Craig Thomas

            If we divide the amount of energy expended versus the amount of electrical energy produced, and taking Brown Hill (commissioned in 2008) as an example, we find an efficiency of about 2,500%.
            Versus about 25% for coal.
            So wind is (at least) 100x more efficient. Without the emissions.

      • MikeH

        Hi Giles,
        Is there any data on how much wind spillage there has been?

        • Not officially i don’t believe. happy to be proved wrong. But the graph in the AGL story yesterday indicated what happened at north brown hill in October

  • Kevfromspace

    Does AEMO still impose the same rule that there must be at least 3 synchronous generators on at the same time? Or is the Hornsdale Power Reserve battery sufficient with its Fast Frequency Response feature?

    • pinionhead
      • Kevfromspace

        They did what?

        • pinionhead

          Read the link. They did have a min synchronous generation scheme as of the 8th Dec.

          • BushAxe

            The minimum 4 generator rule has been in effect since the September blackout, it was formalised about June this year. AEMO will do another update next year which will hopefully include HPR in the modelling.

          • Kevfromspace

            Thank you BushAxe, that’s the answer I wanted 😀

  • Kevfromspace

    Giles, this sentence: “It has also increased the trigger point for higher levels of synchronous generation from 1700MW of non-synchronous generation to 1870MW” makes no sense, and in fact seems to contradict AEMO’s own statement here: “The limit for higher levels of synchronous generation has also been increased from 1700 to 1870 – Heywood (Vic to SA) transfers.”

    Please, consider hiring a proof reader/sub-editor. Your readers will thank you for it.

    • rob

      Sophie is the main culprit!

  • BushAxe

    The Electranet EP study is to replace the life expired Whyalla -Port Lincoln 132kV line. Their preferred option is to replace it with a double circuit line (275kV to Cleve, 132kV to Pt Lincoln) which will remove the need for them to pay Engie $9m pa for backup supply to meet reliability standards. The proposed replacement line will have capacity for 1000MW of new generation south of Whyalla, with up to 500MW of that south of Cleve. Currently the two existing windfarms are restricted to about 80MW.

    • George Michaelson

      whats the construction cost, and where are the lines in the planning cycle?

      • BushAxe

        About $300m for the replacement or $80m to replace the existing conductors (plus continuation of the network support agreement). The line between Whyalla and Pt Lincoln needs to be replaced in the next 5yrs as it’s near the end of its physical life.

  • onesecond

    Fun facts, the German state of Schleswig-Holstein (2,8 million inhabitants) generated 113,9 % of their electricity DEMAND with renewables, followed by the German state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern (1,6 million inhabitants) with 112,8%. The highest share of renewable electricity PRODUCTION in a German state is also Mecklenburg-Vorpommern with 70%. Of course these are numbers from 2015, so it should be more by now, especially as these two states are Northern Germany coast states, where offshore and onshore wind gets build a lot.

    https://www.ee-news.ch/de/article/37398/erneuerbare-energien-im-vergleich-wie-schneidet-ihr-bundesland-ab&page=#article_37398

    • pinionhead

      Also fun facts are that Germany Energiewende is a huge failure and increased power prices. Denmark, Germany and South Australia are teh highest costs of electricity in the world. Reidiculous, considering how much coal, gas, and uranium we have. Further Germany and Denmark all have interconnectors to Nuclear power in surrounding countries that keeps their lights on while they experiment with wind and solar. Lets not forget that windmills and battery technology is far older than gas, coal technology and still is not as reliable.

      • They might be fun, but they are not facts.
        Energiewende is not a failure – basically drove the world-wide plunge in wind and solar prices. Germany has saved tens of billions in fossil fuel costs. Its fall in emissions has been halted because of its decision to close nuclear – demanded by the population – but that will be addressed.
        Germany and Denmark also have interconnectors to hydro as well, and France depends just as much on imports and exports because its nuclear fleet is so inflexible.
        Germany, Denmark and South Australia always had high prices, victims of gas cartels, which is why they want more renewables. Germany and Denmark also add in general taxes to their electricity bills, so it’s not like for like, although German bills are lower than the US and other countries because as part of the Energiewende they focused on energy efficiency.
        Now, run back to your trolling mother-ship and bring back some more fodder.

        • pinionhead

          You’re deluded.

          • Craig Thomas

            Projection.

      • Richie

        Pinhead
        You appear to be an uneducated parrot, as the spelling and grammatical mistakes indicate. You conveniently forget to mention that if the world does not decarbonise really soon, we are all stuffed. Those who continue to sprout denialist rubbish should be jailed.

        • pinionhead

          Hardly uneducated. Apologies for phone autocorrect. Ad hominem is the first step to reveal your don’t have much of an argument.
          Let’s discuss your highly educated connect of the desperate need for decarbonisation.
          You are carbon based, so let’s not decarbonisation.
          CO2 is not actually a poison. You exhale 40000ppm. Plants thrive on it. Energiwende actually didn’t lower emissions, just raised elecricity prices.
          My fave part of reneweconomy site is your reaction. You all worship wind but don’t realise the nem live electrical supply widget. It shows that wind and solar are practically useless and that coal and gas and hydro provide the main reliable supply.

          • Richie

            Pinhead
            You just dug that hole you are in a lot deeper. Anyone who resorts to such peurile arguments just has to be undeserving of any attention or respect at all. Keep it up and the world will see how ridiculous you look and recognise the abject foolishness of your position.

          • pinionhead

            Not many facts refuting my points, Ritchie. Energy MUST be relieve and on demand. Wind and solar simply cannot cost-effectively achieve this.

          • Craig Thomas

            …except that wind has indeed driven down prices to the point that coal-fired plants are closing down due to the competition.
            Your assertion that German emissions weren’t massively reduced by the Energierwende is also another puerile lie.
            Give it up.

        • old44

          Jailed? Spoken like a true totalitarian. What’s next? Gas ovens.

          • pinionhead

            Thanks old44. Free speech isn’t. Regardless of the merit of argument that Ritchie choose to not address. #mediumrareplease

          • Pixilico

            Oh, no! Please,no! That’d be utterly inhumane and a waste of energy, anyway. He’s already being self-grilled by his own off point remarks. Despite his opinions, the world is moving on towards renewables and away from FFs and nuclear. Let him speak out his dissenting voice, which in the end is “full of sound and fury, signifying nothing”, as in Macbeth.

        • Pixilico

          No need to jail anyone for one’s twisted opinions on renewables. They’re probably foolishly parroting their masters, which are the ones who should really be behind bars if justice did prevail.

      • Ren Stimpy

        Germany “increased power prices” by a smidgeon over last five years, but their prices have largely flat-lined. Stop trying to “win” with very very tiny facts – typical of the Murdoch right wing propaganda media.

        The fact that German power prices have more or less flat-lined for the past five years (when Australia’s have clearly sky-rocketed) means Germany’s energy transition has been a huge success compared to ours – yes they have higher green energy scheme costs but those are offset by the much lower wholesale power costs their program has enabled.

        https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/a8750b41d4dc864e7fb687e33b1ccb12065a569fbf3e2401433f63815e447ed5.png

        • pinionhead

          Cherry picking data. 2006 @ 19c to 2017 @ 29c.

          And, comparatively… (Not that wiki is the most reliable source, but)…
          https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electricity_sector_in_Germany
          “The push toward renewables has come at a price. According to Forbes, the IEA reports that in 2015, German prices were 17.9 cents per kwh for industry, and 39.5 cents per kwh for residential customers, versus 7 and 12.5 cents respectively in the U.S.”

          • Ren Stimpy

            No I’m not cherrypicking data, you just need to learn to read and interpret a trend properly. The increase in German renewable energy has clearly caused the cost of their wholesale energy to be reduced — wholesale energy is the red section in the provided chart — back to almost 2006 levels. Green energy schemes once they take effect after the initial ramp up years, have as much or more effect on lowering the wholesale cost of power (the red section) than their cost, because wind and solar don’t have fuel costs nor associated fluctuations/hedging to bear, they are decentralised (in terms of geography and ownership) providing a dampening on rising network costs (compare Germany’s relative network cost increases in that chart to our bastards!) as well as the better energy market competition which comes with the decentralised model. I can list another 10 economic benefits of renewable energy in a canter if you want me to go on.

          • pinionhead

            Economic benefits?!
            Trend your own power bill over a decade. Ask wtf? Why. Preventing global warming/climate change?Wait, the temp is the same as 20 yrs ago. And the temp on a massive ball only varies by 1degC?
            Uhhh, did NASA actually alter their published data from the 70s? Unbelievably, yes. See @stevegoddardon twitter

            Plants love “carbonisation”. Live it. Just ask your mate who has a grow shack. CO2 is lower than historical.
            You’ve been duped. Al Gore and Leo DiCaprio bought beach front property.

            https://www.google.com.au/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&url=https://instituteforenergyresearch.org/analysis/france-germany-turn-coal/&ved=0ahUKEwijleOZu4bYAhVEXLwKHf94AQEQFggyMAI&usg=AOvVaw2YIMwskva0E0zGP6wlKazx
            2. Imagine your household supply of you only had power generated from wind or solar. Sorry, no dependable electricity for you.
            Now imagine your heavy industrial business. See bhp millions lost in the cluster fuck SA state wide power fail. Read the aemo five. It was not fallen lines. In fact, we had addressed that issue with GRIDS.

            Imagine, if windmill rotation was reliable hundreds of years ago, there would be no such thing as a gas or coal pant. Deep.
            Windmills were good for crushing grains because who is ok for intermittent rotation. FFS.

          • Ren Stimpy

            OK, so it looks like (disappointingly) no engaging discussion on the economics of the issue, but instead from you just a reverting to the childish rants of a science/climate denier.

            I swear, just press them ever so slightly on the economics and their ignorant inner self rapidly comes out of some kind of cocoon to present their full ignorance to the world unashamedly as a conspiracy theorist foaming at the mouth chanting “the windmills”.

            I’m NSW to the core and want to thump Qld so bad in State of Origin, but right now I’m so proud that Qld just recently didn’t elect ignorant twats like One Nation and the LNP who dumb fucks like you would support without a glint or even a smear of logic or fact.

          • pinionhead

            Hi Ren. Economics?! My SA power price went from 12c/kWh to 42c/kWh in 10 years. Is that good, acceptable?!
            I think it is so ridiculous that I prepaid my power by installing 6kw solar. Stupid, but. It will take 7 yrs to break even. But Ismbetting that per prices will keep going up (see Engine AGL coal plants)).
            See the essential service was so messed up that I had to hedge my costs long term and buy my own supply. It’s that how a city should operate? #rhetoric

          • Ren Stimpy

            Have a look at the German chart I provided. 19.46c/kW to 29.16c/kW is a 50% increase over 12 years. From 2013 to 2017 in that chart, as the renewable energy subsidy began to take effect on total energy prices the increase was just about zero. What you have rightly described in Australia is a more than 300% increase. 6x the rate of price increase in Aus compared to renewable-embracing Germany.

            What is the difference between Germany and Australia where our prices go up and up and up by 300% now?

            The difference is POLICY and PLANNING. Germany had good policy (they have a pragmatic government) dating from ten years ago and within the past five years it has clearly paid off. Australia has fuck-all policy due to our cowboy idiots such as Abbott who like to play politics who pretend to run the joint while clutching their balls yelling “yar-hoo”…. and so we will forever get chop suey instead of logic, science and fact until we turf these nongs out of all public service, never to be re-admitted.

          • pinionhead

            That’s the problem. For are accepting a 50% increase over a decade. Check out saskpower prices. Island Falls. Simply, why should power increase so much? Virtuous. The doomsday prophecies of global warming refugees and stubborn virus have not simply noteventuated, but you paid for the threat.

          • Ren Stimpy

            Haha yeah I think I can interpret that if I channel a (recent) past life. Go well brother.

          • Craig Thomas

            You’re right – the 1-metre sea level rise predicted by 2100 hasn’t eventuated.
            This proves global warming is wrong.
            You are clearly a certified genius.

          • Craig Thomas

            So for an up-front cost now, you have invested in a renewable energy supply that will in the medium term provide savings as well as clean energy.
            Gosh, do you suppose the government should try to do the same thing?

          • Craig Thomas

            Still getting your “facts” from cranky posts on twitter….

          • Craig Thomas

            What are you saying? That without the Energieerwende, germans would now be paying US prices?
            You’ve posted plenty of nonsense here, but that one takes the cake.

      • onesecond

        Lol, you know nothing. The electricity prices for industrial users have hit new lows since renewables lower the wholesale price, which keeps the German economy booming. For private users the electricity price per kWh is indeed high because of taxes and surcharges, but that doesn’t matter because German households spend less money on electricity than US households for example, because they use the most efficient appliances and only a very small part of income is spend on electricity! And France relies on Germany to keep its lights on, especially in the winter of 2012 only imports from Germany helped save their grid from going down and Germany exports more electricity and at better prices to France than the other way round! Look it up!

  • pinionhead

    This secrecy is why I question the intention. In this glorious age of information, what sane person trusts their government?
    https://www.google.com.au/amp/amp.abc.net.au/article/9256556#ampshare=http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-12-13/jobs-at-risk-over-power-plant-secrecy-stoush/9256556

  • pinionhead

    Most of you on this site are set in your ways. Fair call. I tried to persuade you to think for yourself and see through the propoganda from the dominant media sources.
    This link is to a man that BOLDLY challenges that CO2 does not CAUSE temperature change, but is a result of it (Ocean solubility) and even proves that NASA alters their data. I know. HUGE accusation.. 1970s Time magazine etc. See for yourself and then spread the word.
    Check out @SteveSGoddard’s Tweet: https://twitter.com/SteveSGoddard/status/941972756630929408?s=09

    • Craig Thomas

      You may choose to rely on cranky tweets, the sensible among us will prefer to rely on the unanimous position of all the world’s science academies: CO2 is a greenhouse gas, humans have increased it from 280ppm to over 400ppm, and this is warming our world.
      The position you ascribe to Goddard is a complete nonsense: the increase in CO2 is *clearly* caused by human activity as isotopic analysis and carbon accounting both prove without any doubt whatsoever.