Case studies of ARENA’s work in 2017-18 are provided in this section to demonstrate our purpose, performance and impact.
Musselroe Wind Farm Pty Ltd, a subsidiary of Shenhua Clean Energy and Hydro Tasmania
Delivering secure and reliable electricity
To be secure, Australia’s electricity grid needs to be able to cope when a part of the network or a power plant breaks down. A number of tools are used by the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) to keep the grid secure, including a toolkit known as Frequency Control Ancillary Services or FCAS.
AEMO buys FCAS from providers, which can include power generators, big electricity users, and other organisations. Providers that generate or store electricity help to make the grid secure by rapidly injecting more power into the system when it is needed. Others FCAS providers such as energy-intensive businesses can achieve the same effect by shutting down some or all of their operations for an agreed period.
In Australia FCAS has traditionally been provided by mostly coal and gas electricity generators, however overseas experience has shown that renewable energy providers can also supply FCAS to help keep the grid secure and stable.
ARENA has been working with AEMO and the renewable energy industry to explore how to make renewables-based FCAS not only technically possible but also commercially attractive in Australia. ARENA has also invested in a range of projects to develop renewables-based FCAS.
During 2017-18 ARENA supported additional projects to explore the potential of renewables to provide FCAS and grid security in the future. These include utility-scale renewables such as wind farms and big batteries as well as distributed energy resources such as household solar with battery storage, which was a recommendation of the Finkel Review.
ARENA’s most recent FCAS project is a ground-breaking grid stability trial at the Musselroe wind farm located in windswept north-east Tasmania. With 56 turbines capable of generating 168 megawatts, the Musselroe facility provides five per cent of Tasmania’s yearly electricity needs.
The $1 million trial, to which ARENA is contributing $499,000, is investigating the technical capability as well as the economic and commercial potential of wind farms in Australia to provide FCAS to stabilise the national grid.
Wind power is playing a big part in Australia’s transition to renewable energy, so it makes good sense to explore how it could provide essential grid stability services. If the project finds that wind farms would commercially benefit from selling frequency control services in Australia, this could lead to more wind farms providing FCAS, which would bring down the cost of FCAS and in turn lower electricity bills.