The set up of 4 synchronous condensers within the South Australian grid has paid instant dividends, dramatically lowering the variety of market interventions, enjoyable constraints on wind and photo voltaic output, and slashing the quantity of fuel technology.
The syncons are large spinning machines that may present key system companies similar to “system energy” and inertia, and had been constructed at a price of round $180 million to cut back the necessity to have fuel turbines working at instances of excessive wind and photo voltaic output.
These installations – two at Davenport and two at Robertstown – have delivered instant dividends, slashing the quantity and price of market interventions of their first full quarter of operators from round $37 million to simply $7 million.
That signifies that the financial savings delivered to shoppers within the first full quarter of operations are round $30 million, almost one fifth of the $166 million that the regulator allowed ElectraNet to move on to shoppers.
ElectraNet had insisted that buyers would profit over the long run, and that assumption now appears fairly stable.
The presence of the syncons additionally permits most wind and photo voltaic output to be successfully doubled to as excessive as 2,500MW (relying on situations), and the variety of fuel items working dialled down to simply two, usually offering a mere 80MW of mixed output.
Within the December quarter final 12 months, earlier than the syncons had been put in, almost 40 per cent of all fuel technology occurred because of instructions from the Australian Power Market Operator.
Within the newest quarter, lower than 10 per cent of fuel technology in South Australian got here because of being informed to modify on. Fuel turbines had been additionally inspired to function extra usually due to an increase in common costs.
The co-ordinated set up of the South Australia syncons – a results of an early identification of potential system energy points – contrasts with the chaos of the “do no hurt” guidelines that induced ad-hoc and uncoordinated installations in NSW and Victoria lately.
The “do no harm” rules were ignominiously dumped when it grew to become clear that they had been inflicting more problems for grid management, rather than solving them.
Some have now been contracted by AEMO, though the main points stay unclear.
Within the meantime, and the market operators, regulators and rule-makers are nonetheless engaged on new guidelines to co-ordinate the availability of system energy as but extra coal and fuel turbines exit the grid, and because the share of wind and photo voltaic will increase considerably.
There’s additionally work from AEMO and funding from ARENA on how superior battery inverters, also referred to as grid forming inverters, can present the identical companies as syncons, in addition to performing different features similar to storage, frequency management and community assist.
See additionally: Graph of the Day: Australia’s main grid sets new wind and solar output record
And: It’s time we stopped kidding ourselves that coal is “cheap and reliable”
Giles Parkinson is founder and editor of Renew Economy, and can be the founding father of One Step Off The Grid and founder/editor of the EV-focused The Driven. Giles has been a journalist for 40 years and is a former enterprise and deputy editor of the Australian Monetary Evaluation.