AEMO: Power Outages May Decrease This Summer Due to Surge in Solar

The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) has announced that the surge in solar will reduce the risk of power outages this summer.

An article on the RenewEconomy website reported what Audrey Zibelman, AEMO Chief Executive, had said about its Summer 2019/20 Readiness Plan. “The Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) is forecasting both warmer than average and extreme temperatures this summer. And an ongoing and significant risk of bushfires with drier than usual conditions.”

“These risks add to the deteriorating reliability of some of the older coal generation plants,” she added.

The Influx in Solar Helps Lessen Power Outages this Summer

Zibelman said the organization is pleased to see a surge in solar generation of about 3,700 megawatts in the NEM. Rooftop and grid-scale solar generation accounted for around 90 percent of the increase.

She continued, “The introduction of these resources delivers a welcomed improvement to reliability. It also reduces the need to procure further out of market reserves.”

AEMO wants to highlight that rooftop solar is reducing the overall grid demand and pushing it into the evening. This leads to cutting off the risk of supply shortfalls. Furthermore, large-scale solar is giving additional capacity at peak times as well.

According to the report, “While underlying demand will be higher, the growing contribution of rooftop PV means this is not expected to translate to higher grid demand. The trend of maximum demand shifting later in the day is also expected to continue. Consumers generate more of their energy supply from rooftop PV during daylight hours before drawing on grid supply into the evening.”

Ageing Coal Fleet

Although there are still some conservative politicians and commentators who want to prove that renewables don’t work, the truth is renewables are paving the way for more modern alternatives for generating electricity.

The coal fleet is ageing and is becoming more expensive to maintain. Also, it is more prone to failing in the heat. AEMO also stated it is doing its best in assuring that there would be no outages but it is impossible to commit 100 percent supply no matter what the fuel source.

Victoria remains the biggest concern for AEMO. Units at the Loy Yang A brown coal generator and the Mortlake gas plant are yet to return to service. “With them on line, as their owners have promised by the end of the month, Victoria should be able to meet its reliability standard. Without them, that task becomes difficult in the event of extended heatwaves, bush-fires, and other ‘tail-risk’ events,” the article stated.

The organization is continuing its efforts to ensure that Australians do not experience extreme power outages this summer. AEMO has worked to enhance forecasting, including for large-scale renewables, rooftop solar and “virtual power plants” for extreme days.

Phillip Riley

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