System security and reliability
This report investigates the technical and economic feasibility of repurposing existing synchronous generators as synchronous condensers. The report concludes that repurposing synchronous generators could deliver large amounts of system security services in a manner that is faster and cheaper than procuring new synchronous condensers.
The reports published by the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) in December 2022 highlight ongoing requirements for system strength and inertia services, which AEMO requires to manage power system security. Retirement of fossil-fuel generation, particularly large coal-fired power stations, is projected to reduce both system strength and inertia.
Synchronous condensers (SCs) are identified as providers of both system strength and inertia. The minimum requirements for these services, as identified by AEMO, could potentially be met by installing SCs around the National Electricity Market (NEM). However, the international energy transition and adoption of more inverter-based renewable generation is driving international demand for large SCs. The delivery times for large SCs (>100 MVA) are growing, making it more challenging to procure and install enough SCs in a timely manner to consistently provide the services needed by AEMO within the next five to ten years.
Alternative avenues for the provision of these services are thus being explored.