WA's energy strategy plans for future power system
The Western Australian Government has launched the Energy Transformation Strategy to address the rapid uptake of rooftop solar panels and battery storage systems, and increasing levels of large-scale renewable generators. It aims to deliver more affordable and reliable energy to households and businesses in the future.
To maximise the environmental benefits and minimise the costs of this transition, a Whole of System Plan will be developed by mid-2020 which will detail how the more coordinated power system of the future may look. This will be complemented by a Distributed Energy Resources (DER) Roadmap, produced by the end of 2019, which will guide the integration of solar panels, battery storage and future technologies, such as electric vehicles.
The government said these initiatives will be developed alongside changes to modernise the Wholesale Electricity Market to enhance power system security and improvements to enable new, largely renewable generators to access Western Power’s network.
Energy Minister Bill Johnston said: “In Western Australia, we’re blessed with world-class solar and wind resources, abundant gas supply, a wealth of battery metals and a highly skilled workforce.
“We have a genuine opportunity to lead the way in establishing a cleaner, brighter and more resilient energy supply for decades to come.
“It’s clear that the generation mix will continue to change, so it’s important we have a whole-of-system approach to plan for the future.”
Energy Networks Australia CEO Andrew Dillon said this is a “positive step” towards developing a long-term plan for how Australia manages an integrated low-emissions electricity system.
“The power prices consumers pay are linked to the total system cost, so it makes sense to consider how the coordinated end-to-end power system of the future should look,” he said.
Alongside the Australian Energy Market Operator, it is investigating how best to integrate DER into Australia’s electricity grid through the Open Energy Networks project.
“Open Energy Networks is developing options to improve the electricity system to ensure household solar and storage work in harmony with a grid that was never designed for two-way energy flows,” Dillon said. “As we move to greener grids, this work will help ensure reliable supply and lower household power bills for all customers.”
National connection guidelines
Energy Networks Australia has also launched standardised guidelines for the installation of DER which address low-voltage connections applicable to household, commercial and industrial premises.
The National Connection Guidelines are the first of a set of guidelines for safe, consistent and efficient connection of solar, storage and battery devices to the grid, which Dillon said would help reduce costs for networks and customers.
“With so many households embracing solar and new personalised energy sources, these guidelines will ensure connection processes are streamlined and consistently applied across all jurisdictions.”
Previously, all network companies have had detailed connection processes to ensure safety and reliability, but the absence of a standardised approach across all jurisdictions has resulted in a range of different technical requirements and inconsistent connection practices.
Work is underway to produce the next set of guidelines, expected to be released later this year, to address medium-voltage and high-voltage connections within the distribution system.
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