Market operator launches grid connections tool


The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) has launched its Connections Simulator Tool that allows users to study simulations of new generation and storage projects against the power system model, helping to streamline the evaluation and approval process for new renewable energy grid connections.

AEMO said the tool will allow project developers and their partners and electricity networks to rapidly test and refine their renewable energy plant and project configurations using the same wide-area power system simulations being used by the market operator to assess connections applications. The operator said the cloud-based environment also ensures users can preserve the confidentiality of their model data.

“In our role as system operator and planner, AEMO understands the national urgency to build out a large portfolio of generation and storage projects to maintain secure, reliable and affordable energy to replace retiring coal plants,” AEMO Executive General Manager System Design Merryn York said.

“We’ve developed the Connections Simulation Tool enabling users to test plant and control systems models against our models, a world-first for a power system operator, which will accelerate the grid-connection process.”

The connection process has been an ongoing issue for renewable energy developers in Australia and AEMO said the number of projects undergoing connection assessment across the NEM remains high.

For the 12 months to June 2022, AEMO registered 29 new generation and storage projects totalling 4 GW of capacity but as of October, 152 projects representing 21.6 GW were still engaged in the application, pre-registration, registration and commissioning stages.

“AEMO is working with network service providers to connect electricity generation and storage projects that are growing in volume, capacity and complexity,” York said.

“In the past 12 to 18 months, we’ve connected Australia’s largest battery (300 MW Victorian Big Battery), solar farm (400 MW Western Downs Green Power Hub), wind farm (511 MW Stockyard Hill) and hybrid facility (278 MW Port Augusta Renewable Energy Park).

“The Connections Simulation Tool is one AEMO initiative to streamline the connection process, remove delays and deal with the increasing complexity in connecting projects to the NEM.”

The Connections Simulation Tool has been developed with funding support from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency’s (ARENA) Advancing Renewables Program.

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