Grid connection applications climb as AEMO points to ‘major influx’


New data from the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) shows that applications for connections to the National Electricity Markey (NEM) from new renewable and storage projects have more than doubled in the past year to more than 20 GW of new capacity across 80 projects.

AEMO’s updated and newly expanded monthly connections scorecard shows another 69 projects with a combined total of 11 GW of new capacity have advanced to the pre-registration phase. Out of these, 39 projects totalling more than 6.8 GW of capacity have signed a connection agreement with a transmission and distribution network service provider and are ready for construction.

“The scorecard shows that we’re expecting a major influx of generation and storage capacity, with 90% of all new generation and storage projects currently in the application and pre-registration stages,” AEMO Onboarding and Connections Group Manager Margarida Pimentel said.

“This represents 149 projects totalling 31,000 MW, equal to half of the NEM’s total generation capacity.”

The latest scorecard of generation and storage projects working through the NEM connection process also highlights a large year-on-year increase in battery project applications, up from 14 projects totalling more than 1.8 GW of capacity to 22 projects with a combined capacity of 5.1 GW.

Pimentel said the updated scorecard provides project tracking through the ‘application to full-generation output’ connections process, but also adds key insights and trends over time. The expanded scorecard lists detailed project information by connection stage, broken down by technology type, region and average time within each stage.

“In the next decade, two-thirds of today’s coal power stations are expected to retire, requiring urgent investment in generation, storage and transmission projects to meet consumers’ electricity needs,” she said.

“The expanded monthly connections scorecard gives participants a new level of useful project details, providing a much broader view for their connection activities.”

AEMO’s data shows that 620 MW of new capacity received application approval in October, taking the total for the financial year to date to 1,560 MW, and 320 MW of new capacity completed registration in the month for a total of 1,200 MW since the start of July.

Approved GW by stage.

Image: AEMO

Three projects, including the 400 MW New England and 53 MW Wyalong solar farms in New South Wales and the 173 MW Dulacca wind farm in Queensland, commenced operating at their full output in October, increasing the year-to-date total to 11 projects with a combined capacity of 1,430 MW.

Pimentel said that by engaging early to understand key locational considerations and gaining early feedback on their design, some projects are now getting their technical standards approval in just one-third of the time that it used to take.

“These projects are also progress faster by being transparent about project milestones and constraints, and actively working with AEMO and NSPs to address project issues, which allows them to capitalise on pre-negotiated financing and construction arrangements,” she said.

Despite this, AEMO noted that developers are facing a range of connection challenges, including a shortage of experienced resources, the need to refinance projects, long lead times for equipment, and the need to change original equipment manufacturers.

The scorecard shows that 25% of projects have been in the pre-registration stage for more than two years.

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