Western Power introduces new mechanism for 900 MW of large scale renewables

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Keen not to miss out on the large scale renewable boom taking place on the east-coast National Energy Market (NEM), yet also maintain the stability of its network, Western Power has introduced its Generator Interim Access (GIA) mechanism. Western Power describes the GIA as a “solution” to allow around 900 MW of large scale renewables projects to go ahead, without the need for “augmentation” measures that would be required of them to participate in the state’s “unconstrained” generation market.

A Western Power spokesperson told pv magazine Australia that due to “commercial confidentiality constraints” it cannot reveal which solar and wind projects have been offered connection agreements under the GIA. A total of eight projects have been offered connection under the GIA.

The West Australian reported today that it believed the 210 MW Yandin wind farm in the state’s Mid West region, along with “100-MW plus” large scale solar projects near Cundedin and Merredin in the Wheatbelt have been offered grid connection agreements under the GIA. Western Power has not confirmed that these projects are covered by the new agreements.

The GIA will require new generators to curtail production at certain times and when requested to do so by Western Power. It is a part of the state government’s plan to have the WA grid operate under “constrained market access”.

Western Power Chief Executive Officer Guy Chalkley said that the grid operator targets adding around an additional 20% of generation capacity to its network under the GIA.

“Within the last five years, we haven’t connected many large‐scale generators to the grid, mainly due to the high cost of augmentation required for new generators to achieve an unconstrained network connection,” said Chalkley in a statement.

“Ultimately the move to a constrained access market by the State Government in 2022 will not only assist with the deployment of more low-cost renewable energy but will minimise unnecessary additional costs to market participants.”

Western Power said that it has developed the GIA in consultation with AEMO and the Public Utilities Network. It said that it has installed new IT facilities to monitor and control the output of generators on its network.

“In a nutshell, we’ve created an agreement with these new potential generators that under certainty circumstances AEMO will ask them to wind their production back, so they don’t compete with generators in the unconstrained network,” the Western Power spokesperson said.