The Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC) has released a draft rule that would offer more flexibility for wind, solar and battery technology providers to negotiate on investment in voltage support equipment, which will make investment in renewables cheaper, reducing long-term costs for customers and improving system security.
In a draft determination published today, the AEMC is seeking feedback on the proposed rule for the minimum 'access standards' that specify how much reactive current capability inverter-based technologies are required to provide.
In the transition to net zero, technologies such as wind, solar and batteries are becoming increasingly important in contributing to the decarbonisation of the grid and providing affordable energy options for Australian households and businesses.
The safe and secure integration of this technology into the system remains a focus for the sector and the AEMC has investigated the challenges between inverter-based battery and wind resources and the maintenance of stable voltage levels at their connection point after a fault.
'Reactive current access standards' are among a number of performance standards that inverter-based generators and battery technology providers must comply with when they connect to the NEM, to ensure the connecting plant operates in a predictable way that benefits security and stability.
While adequate provision of reactive power is essential for a stable and secure power system, the current rules have led to parties, particularly new wind farm operators, bearing unnecessary costs of the auxiliary dynamic reactive current control equipment that are unlikely to provide significant system security benefit.
The costs for investing in this equipment, would have previously heightened the expense of investing in these projects, and of generating energy with costs being passed on to consumers through wholesale prices.
The new draft rule proposed by the AEMC would lower the minimum amount of reactive current capability that resources such as renewable generators and batteries would need to provide to a level that simply “does no harm” to the system, clarifying new requirements that reduce costs and improve stability in the system.
New wind, solar and battery technology providers would be able to negotiate, working with network service providers, on whether and where additional investment in voltage support equipment is relevant, for their project.
The proposed rule is also expected to lead to more efficient delivery of voltage support equipment with network service providers able to take into account a broader range of factors in determining where to site and size equipment that supports voltages and provides a range of complementary services, creating savings in running such equipment, which would have been passed on to customers.
The AEMC is working on a number of rule change requests and reviews to evolve the current system security arrangements to support the transition of the NEM, including the development of an operational security mechanism.
Submissions in response to draft rule and determination are being accepted until Friday, 3 February 2023.
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