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As renewable energy increases in the future, the national transmission network will play a vital role in maintaining a reliable electricity supply across the network.

This finding comes from the Australian Energy Market Operator’s (AEMO) 2015 National Transmission Network Development Plan (NTNDP).

The report found that Australia’s energy sector will soon transforms to support a higher percentage of renewable energy and as a result, the national transmission network will play a critical role in maintaining secure electricity supply across the (NEM).

The AEMO network development plan reports that future investment in network development will focus on asset replacement and maintaining power system security and reliability.

AEMO Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Matt Zema, said the transmission network will play an important facilitation role in integrating the evolving energy generation supply mix.

“Today’s national transmission network has sufficient capacity to integrate growing levels of renewable generation along some transmission corridors, however it is ageing, and following on from last year’s NTNDP, investment in asset replacement will be required,”

“The focus for investment has changed over the last six years, with asset replacement now making up 85 per cent of investment required in 2014-15. In 2008-09, only 15 per cent of network investment was allocated to asset replacement, with the majority being spent on increasing network capacity,” Mr Zema said.

Mr Zema stated the interconnected transmission network’s role will continue to evolve. Historically it was viewed largely as a transporter of bulk electricity supply from generation to distribution, however in an energy future with a greater mix of renewable generation, the transmission system will provide critical network support services to maintain power system security and reliability.

“Transmission networks are now required to transfer generation from both ends of the supply chain due to rooftop PV, which is expected to make up the largest form of electricity generation across the NEM. This adds weight to the need for investment in support services to manage power system security and reliability”, Mr Zema said.

The NTNDP also highlights the need for decision makers to be mindful of where it includes new generation.

“There is a potential risk of congestion if a large amount of new generation is built and connected to the transmission network within a small area, resulting in local network limitations. All investment decisions should be considered in the long term interests of Australian consumers,” Mr Zema said.

AEMO will work closely with industry and policy-makers to further explore the network.

Jessica Dickers is an experienced journalist, editor and content creator who is currently the Editor of Utility’s sister publication, Infrastructure. With a strong writing background, Jessica has experience in journalism, editing, print production, content marketing, event program creation, PR and editorial management. Her favourite part of her role as editor is collaborating with the sector to put together the best industry-leading content for the audience.

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