The Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC) is calling for public submissions on a new plan to strengthen power system security.
This directions paper recommends mechanisms to facilitate the ability of the power system to accommodate new technologies.
The transition to a lower emissions power system has its challenges. The take-up of non-synchronous, intermittent generation like wind and solar is continuing at speed in response to mechanisms like the large-scale renewable energy target. The generation mix is changing as old synchronous power stations leave the market.
A power system with increasing non-synchronous generation has less inertia. Falling inertia means the system has less time to recover from sudden equipment failure before widespread blackouts.
Inertia is the energy momentum produced by spinning generators, motors and other devices which enables the system to ride through disturbances and maintain its operating frequency of around 50 Hertz. Technologies like wind or solar have no, or low, inertia and currently have limited ability to dampen rapid changes in frequency which make the grid insecure.
Reduced amounts of synchronous generation also mean that system strength has been falling in some regions. The system strength is a measure of the current that would flow into a fault at a given point in the system. Lower fault levels can mean that generating units and network equipment do not operate correctly, affecting the ability of the system to be operated in a secure manner.
Submissions are due by 20 April 2017.