Generator connection records broken in the NEM

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The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) contributed to new records for both the number of new electricity generation projects and megawatt (MW) capacity coming into the National Electricity Market (NEM) last year.

AEMO chief system design officer, Alex Wonhas, said that more than 40 projects totalling nearly 4900 MWs completed registration or began exporting to the grid during 2020.

“This was achieved despite the COVID pandemic,” he said.

“It was only possible thanks to strong collaboration between developers, OEMs, network service providers and AEMO. Without collaboration and deep insights from all parties the technical challenges associated with generation projects located in difficult connection conditions would not have been solved.

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“There’s a fundamental generation shift underway in the National Electricity Market, with strong interest in new renewable generation projects driving the pace of this change,” Dr Wonhas said.

“Favourable generation resources are attracting new projects into remote locations, which may present technical challenges, impacting grid performance, operational stability and connection delays.

“Last year’s performance reflects AEMO’s combined efforts with network service providers and projects managers to achieve these record levels of new generation, equating to approximately 8.4 per cent of current NEM generation capacity,” he said.

As at the end of January 2021, the total generation capacity of the NEM is 57,499 MW, with a further 23,278 MW of proposed solar generation and 15,746 MW of wind generation.

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“This rapid transformation to renewable generation highlights the critical investment identified in Integrated System Plan to deal with known operational challenges and realise positive consumer outcomes,” he said.

Click here to view AEMO’s 2020 Integrated System Plan (ISP), summary document and infographic highlighting forecast changes in the National Electricity Market in next 20 years. For Victoria, where AEMO plays a unique role in the NEM, the required system changes are outlined in the Victorian Annual Planning Report.

In 2020, AEMO achieved:

  • 12 generators (with a total capacity of 1560 MW) in commercial operation.
  • 32 generators (with a total capacity of 3301 MW) registered and entering commercial operation in coming weeks and months.

New generators registered in 2020

  • Middlemount Solar Farm (26 MW) – QLD 
  • Bango 973 Wind Farm (155 MW) – NSW 
  • Collector Wind Farm (219 MW) – NSW 
  • Crudine Ridge Wind Farm (138 MW) – NSW 
  • Jemalong Solar Project (50 MW) – NSW 
  • Molong Solar Farm (30 MW) – NSW 
  • Sunraysia Solar Farm (200 MW) – NSW 
  • Wellington Solar Farm (170 MW) – NSW 
  • Morgan-Whyalla Pipeline Pumping Station No 3 (6 MW) – SA 
  • Cohuna Solar Farm (27 MW) – VIC 
  • Moorabool Wind Farm (150 MW) – VIC 
  • Glenrowan West Solar Farm (110 MW) – VIC 
  • Yatpool Solar Farm (81 MW) – VIC

New generators commissioned in 2020

  • Ross River Solar Farm (116 MW) – QLD 
  • Rugby Run Solar Farm (65 MW) – QLD 
  • Murra Warra 1 Wind Farm (225 MW) – VIC 
  • Graville Harbour Wind Farm (110 MW) – TAS

AEMO recently published its ‘State of the System’ newsletter, developed to share insights, reports and useful resources relating to the NEM.