May 06, 2020

Powerlink study tackles system strength constraints

Powerlink study tackles system strength constraints

A Powerlink Queensland study looking to tackle a key challenge for renewable energy projects connecting to the grid has attracted $490,629 in funding from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA).

The $922,000 Powerlink Cost-Effective System Strength Study kicked off in August 2019 and is expected to be complete this year.

It is focused on at addressing system strength challenges by exploring the merits of several technical solutions, as well as business and regulatory models to facilitate lower cost solutions and remove commercial barriers.

System strength represents the ability of a power system to remain stable under normal conditions and to return to a steady state following a system disturbance.

ARENA chief executive officer Darren Miller said the ongoing study would aim to help wind and solar developers facing difficulties with grid connection due to limited system strength, and would help reduce project risks, delays and costs.

“In some cases, developers can be forced to install synchronous condensers as a local source of system strength which can come at a large cost to developers and be project-specific solutions, which are unlikely to be economically efficient,” he said.

As part of the wider project, Powerlink is also looking at whether emerging storage technologies such as grid-scale batteries can be tied to solar or wind farms to support system strength.

As a first step in the project, Powerlink commissioned GHD to prepare an initial report, published today. (Report HERE)

Solar farm operators Pacific Hydro and Sun Metals supported the report’s development. An AEMO market notice in March warned that Pacific Hydro’s Haughton solar farm and the Sun Metals solar farm faced major output constraints due to system strength issues.

Powerlink chief executive Kevin Kehl said the report and ongoing work would be an important input to the AEMC system strength review currently underway.

“The report uses the North Queensland region as a case study, however the information is presented in a way that allows for potential use in other regions of the National Electricity Market currently experiencing system strength issues,” Mr Kehl said.