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Wind and solar forecasting trial looks into the future

ARENA has announced that 11 projects will share in $9.41 million as part of the short-term forecasting funding round, which has set out to improve the stability of the grid and make electricity cheaper.

The recipients are located across Victoria, Queensland, South Australia and New South Wales, and make up nearly half of Australia’s registered wind and solar farms farms. The participating generators collectively account for 3.5GW of the renewable energy output in the National Electricity Market (NEM).

Fulcrum3D have developed a system that can detect cloud movements. Image: Fulcrum3D

The trial has been launched to find out whether renewable generators are able to forecast their future output for the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) in almost real-time.

Providing information to the market on a five-minute-ahead basis, the trial aims to improve the accuracy of energy forecasts from wind and solar farms as they bid into the NEM. Factors that affect the accuracy of forecasts in different weather conditions and environments will also be investigated.

ARENA is undertaking the trial in partnership with AEMO, who have responsibility for predicting the output from wind and solar generators.

Currently, AEMO provide centralised forecasts for semi-scheduled generators such as wind and solar farms, while traditional fossil fuel power plants are able to provide their own forecasts.

If AEMO’s forecasts are inaccurate and there is a shortage of supply, the electricity system can become unstable and operating costs can rise.

When AEMO overestimate the supply of energy, wind and solar farms are penalised for not meeting the projections, or forced to curtail production if the forecast is overly conservative and exceeded.

ARENA CEO Darren Miller said the trials aim to create ways for wind and solar to do five-minute forecasts, just like traditional power plants.

“Much like traditional energy generators, we’re aiming to show that renewable
energy is now capable of providing accurate measurement of energy output,” Darren Miller said.

“Improving forecasting of wind and solar generation will help better integrate variable renewable energy into the grid, reduce grid instability and reduce costs. It is a win-win for everyone,” he said.

Under market changes facilitated by AEMO as part of the initiative, wind and solar farms will be able to submit their own five-minute ahead forecasts to AEMO, for use in central dispatch.

The portfolio of 11 projects will involve a range of weather forecasting technologies including onsite cloud cameras that can predict the timing and impact of a passing clouds on a solar farm, wind speed radars, Japanese weather satellites, infrared, crunching of Bureau of Meteorology data and machine learning algorithms.

AEMO Chief Executive Officer Audrey Zibelman said it is important to support these emerging technologies as renewables make up a greater proportion of the energy mix.

“As the market operator, we require the best possible information in real-time to manage the secure and reliable delivery of energy to Australian consumers, 24/7,” said Ms Zibelman.

Tasmanian interconnector project sets sail

And they could one day be the powerful but invisible force helping propel Australia into a renewable energy future.

But to harness the power of those winds, and the considerable potential for new pumped hydro energy storage schemes to allow Tasmania to act as a “battery of the nation”, further interconnection is needed to deliver electricity in both directions between the island state and the mainland.

Late last year, the Australian and Tasmanian Governments announced their intention to jointly fund a $20 million feasibility and business case assessment for a second interconnector.

With up to $10 million of funding from ARENA, TasNetworks is working on the most detailed analysis ever undertaken as to how a second Bass Strait interconnector could be designed and built.

The feasibility and business case assessment will build on previous less detailed studies and answer questions that must be addressed before a decision to build the interconnector is made, including the preferred capacity, best route and location.

TasNetworks has named the study Project Marinus – from the Latin word meaning ‘of the sea’, reflecting the marine connection between Tasmania and Victoria. This month, they will hold a number of public forums in both Victoria and Tasmania on the proposed interconnector.

These public forums follow the release of the first consultation paper, which identified a link of 600MW to 1,200MW as being roughly the ideal size for a second interconnector to enable new renewable energy zones.

In the consultation paper, the 600MW connection is projected to cost between $1.4-1.9 billion, while the 1200MW alternative is estimated to cost $1.9-2.7 billion.

Tasnetworks is looking at several routes for an undersea cable to pass beneath Bass Strait, where it can connect to strong parts of the Tasmanian and Victorian electricity networks.

The report predicts a second Bass Strait interconnector will improve energy reliability and security across the national energy market, particularly in Victoria and Tasmania.

Expected costs and timelines for the project are being examined, as well as the additional infrastructure required to integrate the Marinus Link into Tasmania and Victoria. Project Marinus will also look at environmental and planning considerations, as well as best models for the link’s construction, ownership and operation.

A new interconnector, should it be given the go-ahead, would be a key to unlocking the island state’s potential to act as “battery of a nation” and also be one of the largest infrastructure projects ever undertaken in the state.

A MIGHTY WIND

Tasmania already has significant hydro capacity and a growing number of wind farms, particularly in the state’s rugged North-West, where some of the best wind resources in the world blow strong and regularly.

Musselroe Wind Farm in North-East Tasmania

Four new wind farms are being planned or constructed, including Cattle Hill in Central Tasmania, which will produce enough electricity to power 63,500 homes when it opens in late 2019.

But there is significant potential to build more wind farms over time and to use the energy they generate to meet the needs of other Australian states. A 1000MW wind farm is already in the pipeline for remote Robbins Island on Tasmania’s north west coast, if a second interconnector goes ahead.

Since Tasmanian wind farms rely on different weather systems than those in South Australia and Victoria, they can supply electricity at different times.

This electricity would be a valuable and complementary addition to the NEM, helping to smooth the variability that accompanies wind energy at present.

A PUMPED HYDRO FUTURE?

ARENA has already announced funding of up to $5 million for Hydro Tasmania to undertake feasibility studies as part of the Battery of the Nation initiatives. This work includes upgrading existing hydro power stations, identifying 14 high potential sites for pumped hydro and examining how wind power and hydro could help provide dispatchable, reliable power to other states.

As renewable energy grows to comprise a larger percentage of the nation’s electricity the importance of storage for ensuring grid security and reliability also increases. The Battery of the Nation is, partly, an attempt to provide for those future needs.

Here’s how it would work: Future pumped hydro projects in Tasmania could receive renewable energy from the national market when it is in plentiful supply to pump water uphill to be stored in reservoirs.

When generation drops or demand surges in other parts of Australia, water would be released to run downhill, through turbines, generating hydroelectricity that could either supply the local market or be sent back to mainland Australia via the Marinus Link.

Tarraleah hydro power station

BACKUP FOR TASMANIA AND VICTORIA

A second Bass Strait interconnector would help to manage the risks associated with relying on a single interconnector, providing backup for Tasmania and Victoria in the event of a local shortfall or disruption to existing supply.

Such a disruption occurred in 2015-16 when an extended outage of Basslink, combined with low hydro water storage levels, put pressure on Tasmanian energy reserves for an extended period. New storage level controls were put in place, but could be relaxed with greater interconnection, delivering greater benefits to customers.

With Tasmania’s energy demand highest in winter, and the rest of the national market highest in summer, the existing Basslink interconnector supports Victoria as demand rises on the hottest days. A second link would allow these transfers to continue in the event that either interconnector is out of service.

HAVEN’T WE LOOKED AT THIS ALREADY?

A second interconnector has long been thought about but has become a more pressing concern as the security of the national market is thrown into focus, and the importance of energy storage in providing that security becomes clear.

A preliminary report in June 2016 found that, if viable, a second interconnector would support long term energy security in Tasmania and integration of Tasmanian renewable energy into the NEM.

A second report, in April last year, from former Australian Energy Market Commission Chair John Tamblyn, found that the project was economically viable in some future scenarios but not in others. The report recommends that the case for the second interconnector should be revisited if a number of scenarios emerge.

SO WHAT HAS CHANGED?

Many of the scenarios identified by Tamblyn are now coming to fruition:

  • Early work on the Battery of the Nation project has produced modelling that is more encouraging of a second interconnector, highlighting Tasmania’s potential to deliver benefits across the national market. Early work shows the benefits from a second interconnector could outweigh the costs by $500 million.
  • The Australian Energy Market Operator’s July 2018 Integrated System Plan identified a future need for more dispatchable renewables and stronger interconnection. The ISP also recognised the the potential benefits to the national energy market from the Marinus link.
  • Early-stage preparations for a second interconnector between South Australia and the eastern states are now underway, led by Electranet. The Tamblyn report found this would be vital to making the economic case for a second Bass Strait interconnect stack up.

WHERE TO FROM HERE?

TasNetworks will provide an interim report on the feasibility of a second Bass Strait interconnector by the end of 2018, while the full feasibility and business case assessment for Project Marinus is expected to be completed by the end of 2019.

Results in from Hornsdale Wind Farm FCAS trial

The Australian-first trial tested whether the Hornsdale Wind Farm 2 could be remotely controlled to deliver Frequency Control Ancillary Services, and the initial results are promising (FCAS help keep the power system in tune at a stable frequency).

Trialled over the peak 2017-18 summer period, the wind farm delivered across six of the eight different FCAS markets and met the project’s objectives. Without any major outages during the trail, the potential for the wind farm to deliver full FCAS contingencies could not be evaluated.

Together with the Hornsdale Power Reserve (aka the world’s biggest battery), Hornsdale Wind Farm 2 lowered FCAS prices from the historically observed $9000/MWh to just $248/MWh. AEMO expect that reduced the cost of the five-hour local South Australian FCAS requirement by approximately $3.5 million.

The successful trial has led the Hornsdale 2 Wind Farm to now be registered and offering FCAS in the National Electricity Market (NEM) – another first for an Australian wind farm.

Read more about the trial at AEMO Energy Live.

Musselroe Wind Farm FCAS Trial

Tassie wind farm to trial grid stability services

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has announced it will provide funding to Woolnorth’s 168MW Musselroe wind farm for a groundbreaking trial to investigate the economic and commercial potential of wind farms providing frequency control to stabilise the grid.

On behalf of the Australian Government, ARENA will provide $499,120 in grant funding towards the $1 million trial to test the technical capability of Frequency Control Ancillary Services (FCAS) but also test the commercial benefits going forward.

Traditionally provided only by coal, gas and hydro-electric power stations, frequency control and ancillary services are used by the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) to maintain the frequency on the electrical system and provide a fast injection or reduction of energy to maintain grid stability.

The trial at Musselroe is the second trial to see if wind farms can provide FCAS. Last year, ARENA partnered with the Australian Energy Market Operator to deliver Australia’s first FCAS trial at Neoen’s Hornsdale wind farm in South Australia.

That initial trial began in December and has proven successful in proving that using wind farms to deliver FCAS is largely technically feasible, with the results to be released in the coming months.

This second study in Tasmania will also examine options to store surplus wind energy when constraints on the network prevent energy from being used.

Located in north east Tasmania, the Musselroe wind farm produces approximately 5 per cent of Tasmania’s electrical energy needs annually.

ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht said a successful trial at Musselroe could see FCAS be delivered by other Australian wind farms.

“Wind power is playing a big part in Australia’s transition to renewable energy and we want to explore how wind can provide essential grid stability services.

These two trials are proofs of concepts that if successful will create new revenue streams for wind farms while also providing essential stability to the grid, he said.

“With the support of ARENA and AEMO, Hornsdale finished the live testing of FCAS last month. Now, this second trial at Musselroe will allow us to look not just at technical feasibility but also how this can provide a new revenue stream for wind farms,” he said.

“This trial will be able to answer for us the key question that so far hasn’t been answered; does it make economic and commercial sense for a wind farm to provide ancillary services and participate in the FCAS markets?

“It is hoped this will see many more wind farms beginning to help provide FCAS which batteries and solar farms may also be able to deliver,” he said.

General Manager of Woolnorth Wind Farm Holding, Stephen Ross said very few Australian wind farms provide the network support offered by FCAS.

“This project aims to identify the true capability of wind power to provide system support, how that might work and what benefit there would be in terms of reliability and security at local and system level,” Mr Ross said.

“This is an opportunity to prove that wind farms can contribute to the stability and reliability of the electricity network.”

ARENA media contact:

0410 724 227 | media@arena.gov.au

Download this media release (PDF 122KB)

ARENA and AEMO looking to evolve traditional electricity market

In an Australian first, the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO), the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) and South Australia’s Hornsdale Stage 2 Wind Farm (Hornsdale Stage 2) are collaborating to trial whether a wind farm can provide important power system stability services.

HWF2 has been developed by French renewable energy company Neoen in conjunction with international infrastructure investor, John Laing.

Slated to begin in October 2017, the trial will test the ability of Hornsdale Stage 2 to provide Frequency Control Ancillary Services (FCAS) traded in the National Electricity Market (NEM) while remotely controlled by AEMO.

FCAS is used by AEMO to maintain the frequency on the electrical system, at any given point in time, close to fifty cycles per second as required by the NEM frequency standards. Put simply, FCAS provides a fast injection of energy, or fast reduction of energy, to manage supply and demand.

Traditionally provided by synchronous generators such as coal and gas plants, these services are purchased by AEMO to maintain frequency and ensure the stability and reliability of the grid.

“The evolving generation mix in the NEM is changing the way AEMO operates both the grid and market. This trial will enable us to test new and emerging technologies that could supply services the market will need in future,” said AEMO CEO Audrey Zibelman.

Hornsdale Stage 2 is committing $300,000 to the FCAS trial, matched by ARENA, bringing the total funding for the project to $600,000.

Neoen Australia’s Managing Director, Franck Woitiez said the partnership signals the shift towards a more sustainable Australia focused on exploring future energy supply services.

“South Australia in particular is leading the charge to secure a more sustainable energy future so we’re proud to be working with ARENA and AEMO on this trial at our Hornsdale Stage 2 Wind Farm. This project will show the potential of renewable resources like solar and wind power to provide Australia with controllable, clean energy that can keep pace with future demand,” said Mr Woitiez.

ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht said the FCAS trial would test the NEM’s ability to fully integrate renewables and further facilitate Australia’s transition towards renewable energy.

“This is an opportunity to enable wind and solar generators to fully participate in the NEM and add to system stability in addition to generation,” Mr Frischknecht said.

Subsequent to testing the ability of HWF2 to provide FCAS services, the trial will also demonstrate the technical capability of Type 4 wind turbines to be remotely controlled by AEMO.

“AEMO supports and encourages a framework for new technologies that ensures power system security yet continues to encourage competition. This trial is an essential step towards a more efficient and competitive FCAS market that ultimately benefits consumers,” said Ms Zibelman.

Following the successful completion of this capability demonstration, a market trial will run for 48 hours to test the ability of Hornsdale Stage 2 to fully participate in the NEM and NEM FCAS markets.

This market trial will allow AEMO to assess modifications that may be required to wind forecasting, bidding and energy management systems to support on-going provision of FCAS from wind and solar farms operating in the NEM.

If successful, the trial will provide a critical proof of concept to the market and investors on the ability of wind farms to provide FCAS.

“AEMO welcomes the opportunity to play a role in strategically integrating renewable generation into the National Electricity Market (NEM), to ensure a reliable, secure and resilient power system now, and into the future,” Ms Zibelman said.

 

ARENA media contacts:

Phone: 0410 724 227 | Email: media@arena.gov.au

Media release – AEMO and ARENA aiming to evolve traditional electricity market media release Final (PDF 164 KB)

When the wind changes

In an Australian first, ARENA and the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) have signed an agreement with South Australia’s Hornsdale Stage 2 Wind Farm to trial whether a wind farm can provide Frequency Control Ancillary Services (FCAS).

ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht said the FCAS trial would test the National Electricity Market’s ability to fully integrate renewables into the electricity system, further assisting Australia’s transition towards renewable energy.

“This is an opportunity for us to enable wind and solar generators to fully participate in the NEM’s energy and FCAS markets by providing frequency control services in addition to generation,” Mr Frischknecht said.  

WHAT IS FCAS?

The power system requires that both generation and load are in balance in order to operate safely. If there is a variation in generation without a corresponding variation in load then the frequency of the power system will deviate, which can lead to instability or, at extreme levels, cascading failure and blackouts. FCAS is a process used by the energy market operator to maintain the frequency of the system within the normal operating band around 50 cycles per second.

Put simply, FCAS provides a fast injection of energy, or fast reduction of energy, to manage supply and demand.

Traditionally provided by generators such as coal and gas plants, these services are purchased by AEMO to maintain frequency and ensure the stability and reliability of the grid.

This project aims to shake that up, instead using wind power for the same purpose.

“The changing generation mix in the NEM is changing the way AEMO operates both the grid and market,” AEMO Chief Executive Audrey Zibelman said. “This trial will enable us to test new and emerging technologies that could supply services the market will need in future.”

Hornsdale Stage 2 is committing $300,000 to the FCAS trial. With that amount to be matched by ARENA, the total funding for the project is $600,000.

INTEGRATING RENEWABLES

French renewable energy company Neoen has developed Hornsdale Stage 2 in conjunction with international infrastructure investor, John Laing.

Neoen Australia’s Managing Director, Franck Woitiez said the partnership signalled the shift towards a more sustainable Australia focused on exploring future energy supply services.

“South Australia in particular is leading the charge to secure a more sustainable energy future so we’re proud to be working with ARENA and AEMO on this trial,” he said.

“This project will show the potential of renewable resources like solar and wind power to provide Australia with controllable, clean energy that can keep pace with future demand.”

PASS THE REMOTE CONTROL

The trial will also demonstrate the technical capability of Type 4 wind turbines to be remotely controlled by AEMO. This will allow AEMO an expanded toolkit to manage smaller deviations in frequency that occur on an ongoing basis.

“AEMO supports and encourages a framework for new technologies that ensures power system security yet continues to encourage competition. This trial is an essential step towards a more efficient and competitive FCAS market that ultimately benefits consumers,” said Ms Zibelman.

Following the successful completion of this capability demonstration, a market trial will run for a minimum of 48 hours to test the ability of HWF2 to fully participate in the NEM and NEM FCAS markets.

This market trial will allow AEMO to assess modifications that may be required to wind forecasting, bidding and energy management systems to support on-going provision of FCAS from wind and solar farms operating in the NEM.

If successful, the trial will provide a critical proof of concept to the market and investors on the ability of wind farms to provide FCAS.

“AEMO welcomes the opportunity to play a role in strategically integrating renewable generation into the National Electricity Market (NEM), to ensure a reliable, secure and resilient power system now, and into the future,” she said.

 

Hornsdale Wind Farm Stage 2 (HWF2) FCAS Trial