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Battery storage to play bigger role in stabilising power grid

The Australian Energy Market Commission has modified the rules related to demand response to smooth out imbalances between power supply and demand as it recognises that battery storage will have a big role to play in energy security.

The AEMC released the new rules in June, saying the owners of power transmission grids would be able to make greater use of battery storage to help stabilise the network and avert the risk of blackouts under recommendations to help counter instability caused by the growing use of renewable energy.

Networks owners would also need to provide minimum levels of inertia – which smooths out imbalances between power supply and demand.

The proposals come in response to technical issues that the energy market operator found needed to be addressed to beef up the resilience of the grid as the power system shifts further towards “non-synchronous” sources of generation such as wind and solar power.

AEMC in line with Finkel Report proposals – battery storage fits into solution

The AEMC’s report “Delivering A More Stable Power System to Keep The Lights On” goes into much more detail. Although a lot of what is being done in terms of energy security seems to be a knee-jerk reaction to the current state of affairs, it must be noted that the AEMC’s work started before the series of blackouts that hit South Australia’s power system last year.

There also seems to be synergy of thought as its proposals are in line with what is being proposed in the Finkel Report.

The Finkel report also calls for a minimum level of inertia in each region so that power supply is less likely to be disrupted if power stations or interconnectors that carry electricity between states suffer an outage.

The AEMC said the transition to use more renewable energy is requiring changes in the way the grid operates because voltage and frequency control have been traditionally provided as a matter of course by conventional coal plants.

“As the generation fleet evolves, new approaches are required to resist sudden frequency changes and therefore maintain power system security,” the AEMC said in its report.

It is also recommending that a market-based system be introduced for the provision of inertia, and has already put in place rules requiring faster emergency frequency control schemes to strengthen the “last line of defence” to help prevent system-wide blackouts.

The AEMC said some of the new rules would be in place in September, ahead of next summer’s peak demand period. It noted the recommendations should minimise costs that would be passed onto customers and could potentially reduce energy prices.

Zibelman downplays Summer power crisis, recognizes battery storage potential

AEMO CEO Audrey Zibelman

Meanwhile, Australian Energy Market Operator chief executive Audrey Zibelman has declared that suggestions the power system is at risk of a crisis next summer after the closure of the large Hazelwood coal generator in March are overinflated. In an opinion piece titled “There is no energy crisis and the lights won’t go out this summer”, Ms Zibelman wrote in The Australian Financial Review that Hazelwood was not required to keep the lights on next summer and pointed to several measures taken to prepare the power supply system to face “extreme” scenarios.

Ms Zibelman also speaks about the potential of battery storage in this regard, saying that stored power can help safeguard against any potential overload or shortfall in supply, providing a dynamic solution to any extreme circumstances.

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