The Australian electricity grid is being upgraded so that it has increased capacity and more connected renewable energy. Grid outages are planned to achieve this which will mean switching sections of the grid off. This in turn means that a large number of wind and solar farms will be forced to stop, or drastically reduce, generation. The grid is operated by AEMO – Australian Electricity Market Operator.
Figure 1 Map showing Australian solar resource
Many large wind and solar schemes are being added to Australia’s grid network resulting in increases and changes to electricity flows. At the end of 2018 Australia had a solar PV generating capacity of 11,085 Megawatts which compares to its wind capacity figure of 4,816 Megawatts (2017).
The increase in Renewable generation has resulted in the grid reaching maximum capacity in the top corner of Victoria between New South Wales and South Australia. Significant capacity upgrades are planned including replacing existing cables with better conductors that can carry more power.
The planned upgrades are to take place over the next 13 months and will result in some large wind and solar farms being forced to shutdown for extended periods.
During the upgrades there will be around 120 outages that will mostly require wind and solar generation to be limited. These limitations are generally required to prevent overloading the grid – but in some cases are also required to maintain the stability of the grid system. A grid is unstable if its frequency or voltage can be changed significantly by unplanned electrical events – (e.g. failure of a generator at a power station). Small unexpected changes on an unstable electricity network can cause significant unplanned power cuts and power station outages.
Are curtailments likely in future?
Yes – as the renewable generation industry expands the grid is trying to keep up. Grid improvements are likely to continue to require generators to reduce their output so that system stability can be maintained.
What does Pager Power do?
Pager Power does not advise on grid matters. However it does provide support in other technical areas. Namely glint and glare assessments for solar developers as well as telecommunications and radar assessments for wind developers. For more information contact Mike Watson on +44 1787 319001