AEMO outlines readiness plan for challenging summer

Transmission towers against striking red evening sky (far north queensland)
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The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) has released its 2023-24 Summer Readiness Overview, outlining expected weather conditions, energy system preparations, and contingencies to maintain electricity reliability in Australia’s main power systems this summer.

AEMO works on an ongoing basis with generation and transmission businesses, federal and state governments, and key agencies to manage risks to the National Electricity Market (NEM) that serves the eastern and south-eastern regions of Australia, and the Western Australian South West Interconnected System (SWIS).

Related article: AEMO forecasts reliability gaps, highlights investment need

AEMO executive general manager operations Michael Gatt said months of planning with industry has gone into preparing the power systems for a possible summer of extreme demand.

“Our extensive planning with industry, governments and network businesses aims to have enough generation and transmission available year-round to meet consumers’ electricity needs,” Gatt said.

“This year’s summer forecast is for hot and dry El Niño conditions, increasing the risk of bushfires and extreme heat, which could see electricity demand reach a 1-in-10-year high across the eastern states and in Western Australia.

“The entire industry has been focusing and continues to focus on managing possible risks for the summer ahead, particularly during high demand periods,” he said.

In August, AEMO identified periods when electricity reliability thresholds were at risk in the NEM and SWIS this summer.

AEMO is in the process of procuring additional reserves through the Interim Reliability Reserve and Reliability and Emergency Reserve Trader (RERT) mechanisms in the NEM. In Western Australia, AEMO is tendering for reserves through the Supplementary Reserve Capacity mechanism.

Compared to last summer in the NEM, an average 1.5GW of scheduled generation and an extra 2GW of generation capacity from new wind and solar projects will be available this summer. In the WEM, nearly 50MW of extra scheduled generation is expected to be available.

Related article: Hydro Tasmania readies bushfire plan for dry summer season

“The increase in generation availability and additional reserves being procured will help navigate reliability pressures, should they eventuate,” Gatt said.

In addition to AEMO’s collaboration with industry, governments and network businesses to identify and plan for relevant summer risk scenarios, extensive briefings and emergency exercises to test contingency plans and communication processes have taken place ahead of summer.

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