Male and Female Industrial Engineers in Hard Hats Discuss New Project while Using Laptop.

Australian Energy Market Operator’s (AEMO) world-first Connections Simulation Tool will work by allowing users to study simulations of new generation and storage projects against the power system model, connecting to the National Electricity Market (NEM).

Having recently completed industry testing, the Connections tool will reduce risks, cost and time to progress large volumes of new energy projects needed to maintain a secure, reliable and affordable energy supply for consumers.

Merryn York, AEMO Executive General Manager System Design, said that providing an environment to upload and test plant models used by the power system operator is a unique solution to help navigate Australia’s energy transition.

“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,” Ms 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 availability of this unique, online solution comes at a time of real momentum for investment in low-cost, low-emissions generation to decarbonise Australia’s energy sector and reach our national net-zero emissions target by 2050.”

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

Darren Miller, ARENA CEO, said “The launch of the Connections Simulation Tool is a significant step for AEMO and for the electricity sector to assist in fast-tracking renewable energy projects into the grid as we accelerate the energy transition to net zero emissions.

“Providing developers with the tools required to troubleshoot connection issues in an evolving energy system is going to be key for them to continue to invest in renewable energy, and will ultimately help to streamline processes, reduce delays, and bring down costs for installing more solar and wind,” Mr Miller said.

For the 12 months to June 2022, AEMO registered 29 new generation and storage projects totalling 4GW of capacity. The overall number of projects undergoing connection assessment across the NEM as of October 2022 remains high, with 152 projects representing 21.6GW across 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,” Ms York said.

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

“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.”

AEMO’s website has further information on the Connections Simulation Tool and the steps to apply for access. 

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