In December 2022, AEMO published their Engineering Roadmap to 100% Renewables, presenting AEMO’s view of the technical, engineering, and operational actions required to prepare the Australian National Electricity Market (NEM) to securely and reliably operate at 100% instantaneous renewable penetration for the first time. The roadmap is divided into three technical preconditions that must be met:

  • power system security – maintaining the secure technical operating envelope of the power system under increasing renewable penetrations;
  • system operability – securely and reliably operating the power system and transition through increasingly complex operating conditions; and
  • resource adequacy and capability – building the energy resources and network capability to unlock the renewable potential and the flexible capacity to balance variability over different timeframes.

The roadmap also outlines more than 150 actions across the three categories, as well as subcomponents of each action, amounting to around 500 to 600 detailed considerations. Some of the main considerations include fewer synchronous generators online as the older coal fleet retires, and the extensive grid-scale variable renewable energy, rooftop solar, and widespread energy storage that must replace the coal fleet. There are also changes to the patterns of energy use, including structural demand shifts and responsive demand.

AEMO already has experience with operational challenges that put into focus what the operation of their future grid may look like. In November 2022, storm damage left most of South Australia without an AC connection to the rest of the NEM. Without this connection, maintaining a secure network with high renewable penetration, which peaked at 91.5% instantaneous penetration at one point, throughout the emergency event was a significant achievement. It was made possible, in large part, due to four synchronous condensers strategically placed within the South Australian network that provided the services traditionally offered by coal, gas, and hydropower plants – such as inertia, system strength, and voltage control.

Keeping in mind this and other operational learning experiences, the engineering roadmap represents AEMO’s strong commitment to acting now to drive system reform and prepare for its future power system’s needs. Alongside our Australian partners, G-PST is looking forward to supporting this effort and helping solve the most pressing engineering challenges to accelerate the decarbonization of electricity systems globally.

Explore the Engineering Roadmap to 100% Renewables.