AEMO improves average processing time for renewable energy connections by 10 percent

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The Australian Energy Market Operator has improved its average processing time for new renewable energy connections by 10 percent in the last financial year.

AEMO chief Daniel Westerman has acknowledged that one of the biggest stumbling blocks to Australia’s renewable energy transition is related to transmission infrastructure.

Hurdles in the Energy Transition: Lengthy and Complicated Renewable Energy Connections Process

He said that one of the hurdles most commonly brought up by the solar and wind industries is the length and complication of renewable energy connections.

“From FY22 to FY23, we’ve seen a 10% improvement in average processing time across the application and registration processes and a 20% time improvement for commissioning,” Westerman said.

“Collectively, this means a 3-month decrease in the end-to-end connection processing time.

He acknowledged there is more to the timeframes than just the AEMO process. 

Still, he said the results showed how focus, collaboration and a genuine commitment from all parties can achieve positive results.

But one of the primary challenges lies in ensuring the seamless connection and achievement of targets for the vast array of pipeline wind, solar, and storage projects. 

Targeting 82% Renewables by 2030: Scaling Up Wind, Solar, and Storage Projects

Australia’s targets aim for an average of 82 percent renewables by 2030.

According to Westerman, meeting the requirements will demand a three-fold increase in large-scale wind and solar capacity, reaching 48GW by 2030. 

Moreover, another three-fold increase is necessary to keep up with the electrification of transport and industry, raising it to over 150 GW by 2050. 

Additionally, storage capacity needs to expand significantly, growing by a factor of 30 from its current state to reach 60GW.

AEMO’s Commitment to Streamlined Connections

“We also recognise stakeholders’ feedback that the technical registration phase is still a concern, and we continue to actively support efforts to improve it. AEMO is committed to building a renewable energy connections process that is transparent, consistent, timely and cost-effective.”

AEMO maintains its forecast that Australia’s National Electricity Market could potentially have sufficient wind and solar resources to fulfil all grid demand during specific periods as early as 2025. 

Consequently, the organization is working diligently to establish the necessary engineering protocols to accommodate this groundbreaking achievement, which would be a world first in renewable energy.

Mr Westerman said that when renewables flood the power system, they can push out synchronous generation and the “steady electrical heartbeat that we’ve relied on for so long”.

He also said Australia is a world leader in the energy transition. 

Engineering Roadmap to 100% Renewables 2024

Mr Westerman’s comments were made shortly after AEMO published its Engineering Roadmap to 100% Renewables 2024.

The report states the most important target was to achieve 100 per cent instantaneous renewables capability, meaning that power systems can instantly run on 100 per cent renewable energy sources.

The plan strongly emphasises adopting advanced technologies, like grid-forming inverters, which will serve as the new “electrical heartbeat.” 

Additionally, it aims to efficiently manage widely dispersed resources, such as rooftop solar, which have been relatively “invisible” regarding grid management for the market operator.

Westerman also highlighted the recently released GenCost report, co-prepared with CSIRO, which reaffirms the cost superiority of wind, solar, and storage compared to other technologies. 

He emphasized that their operational observations validate the impact of renewables on the National Electricity Market, wherein increased renewable output exerts downward pressure on wholesale electricity prices while simultaneously reducing emissions.

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