The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) has forecast the country’s energy supply throughout summer to be sufficient and meet reliability measures across the National Electricity Market (NEM), revealed in its new Summer 2021-22 Readiness Plan.
AEMO prepares a summer plan every year, collaborating with generation owners and transmission network providers, federal and state governments, and key agencies to actively manage risks to power system operations.
AEMO has not identified any gas availability shortfalls for Australia’s eastern and south-eastern gas markets for the 2021-22 summer period.
AEMO’s Chief Operations Officer, Michael Gatt, said that operational forecasts are favourable heading into the first back-to-back La Niña summer conditions in a decade, but extreme weather events pose security risks.
“Similar to last summer, we’re expecting less intense heatwave and bushfire conditions. However, these risks remain, along with likely tropical cyclones and flooding due to anticipated La Niña weather patterns,” Mr Gatt said.
“An additional 2.6GW of small-scale solar generation and 2GW of new grid-scale generation capacity have strengthened the reliability outlook, offsetting a number of generation units unavailable this summer.”
Generation unavailability includes the Callide C Power Station unit 4 (Queensland), the Hunter Valley Gas Turbine (NSW) and the Mintaro Power Station (South Australia). Also, in South Australia the Snapper Point Power Station will be unavailable for part of the summer, while the Torrens Island A PS unit 3 and B PS unit 1 have been mothballed.
As outlined in the 2021 Electricity Statement of Opportunities report, under high rainfall conditions the Morwell River Diversion in Victoria could flood, impacting availability at the Yallourn Power Station. AEMO is working with the Victorian Government to explore options that could help mitigate this risk.
“Despite a favourable reliability outlook, AEMO has received expressions of interest for more than 2,000MW of emergency reserves through the Reliability and Emergency Reserve Trader (RERT) panel function to reduce supply uncertainty,” Mr Gatt said.
“These panel agreements allow AEMO to manage the risk of not meeting the reliability standard, without committing to reserve contracts or availability payments until they are needed.”
As in previous years, AEMO will continue to assess and mitigate any conflicts in planned gas maintenance to ensure gas supply for eastern and south-eastern Australian gas users is maintained.
AEMO will continue to monitor refilling of Iona underground gas storage reservoirs over summer, ahead of winter 2022.
AEMO has also worked with industry to understand the evolving impact of COVID-19 on operations, maintenance and project work, finding that the pandemic has impacted operations through a changing demand profile.
It has also impacted participants’ ability to access distant resources and essential parts, conduct corrective and preventative maintenance, and implement planned project work.