The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) and the Clean Energy Council have published the Connections Reform Roadmap, seeking to improve the process of connecting new renewable energy, energy storage and hybrid projects to the National Electricity Market (NEM).
This is the result of a unique industry-wide collaboration under the Connections Reform Initiative (CRI).
Developed over seven months of collaboration involving over 50 organisations – including Clean Energy Council members, energy market bodies, network businesses, equipment manufacturers, developers and technical consultants – the Connections Reform Roadmap has set 11 priority reforms and implementation plans.
“Australia’s energy transition continues its most extensive transformation in a century, driven by record investment in wind and solar generation,” AEMO CEO Daniel Westerman said.
“The CRI has demonstrated a willingness across industry to collaborate and co-design reforms that address current challenges experienced with projects connecting to the grid. The endorsed Roadmap delivers a reform package that will make it easier and more efficient to connect renewable generation and battery storage projects to the NEM, which importantly creates a more stable investment environment.”
The reforms relate to various stages and inputs into the connection process, including information quality and modelling standards, assessment studies, access standards and other key elements.
Clean Energy Council analysis of Australia’s large-scale renewable development pipeline shows the private sector is ready to deploy $51.5 billion of investment through financially committed and under construction projects.
AEMO’s recently released Draft 2022 Integrated System Plan forecasts construction of nine times the NEM’s current utility-scale wind and solar generation capacity, from 15 gigawatts (GW) to 140 GW, by 2050.
Grid connection and network access has been the top concern of clean energy investors going back to at least 2019, according to Clean Energy Council chief executive Kane Thornton.
“While proponents are grappling with connection delays and the regulation that impedes their projects, you’re not fostering an environment that encourages the enormous capital that should be flowing into the Australian economy through clean energy projects,” Thornton said.
“In developing the CRI Roadmap, industry has collectively worked towards solutions that will unlock the new generation investment required as old fossil-fuel generators retire or are priced out of the market and ultimately drive down energy costs for the consumer. It will also deliver enhanced grid outcomes and provide developers with more timing certainty.”
Implementation on the reforms has been initiated, including reviewing selected minimum access standards, exploring options to advance batteries behind existing connection points and a revised approach to updating AEMO’s Guidelines.