Transmission network to play vital role in new energy future

  • The 2015 National Transmission Network Development Plan (NTNDP) reported future investment in network development will focus on asset replacement and maintaining power system security and reliability
  • The NTNDP also highlights the need for decision makers to be mindful of where it includes new generation

The national transmission network will play a critical role in maintaining secure and reliable electricity supply across the National Electricity Network (NEM) as Australia’s energy sector transforms to support a higher percentage of renewable generation, according to the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO).

The 2015 National Transmission Network Development Plan (NTNDP) reported future investment in network development will focus on asset replacement and maintaining power system security and reliability. What’s more, AEMO managing director and chief executive officer Matt Zema said the transmission network will also play an important facilitation role in integrating the evolving energy generation supply mix.

“Today’s national transmission network has sufficient capacity to integrate growing levels of renewable generation along some transmission corridors, however, it is ageing and following on from last year’s NTNDP, investment in asset replacement will be required,” he said.

“The focus for investment has changed throughout the last six years, with asset replacement now making up 85 per cent of investment required in 2014-15. In 2008-09, only 15 per cent of network investment was allocated to asset replacement, with the majority being spent on increasing network capacity.”

Mr Zema stated the interconnected transmission network’s role will continue to evolve. Historically it was viewed largely as a transporter of bulk electricity supply from generation to distribution. However, in a scenario with a greater mix of renewable generation, the transmission system will provide critical network support services to maintain power system security and reliability.

“Transmission networks are now required to transfer generation from both ends of the supply chain due to rooftop PV, which is expected to make up the largest form of electricity generation across the NEM. This adds weight to the need for investment in support services to manage power system security and reliability,” Mr Zema said.

The NTNDP also highlights the need for decision makers to be mindful of where it includes new generation.

“There is a potential risk of congestion if a large amount of new generation is built and connected to the transmission network within a small area, resulting in local network limitations. All investment decisions should be considered in the long-term interests of Australian consumers,” Mr Zema added.