The Essential Services Commission of South Australia has released the Final Report of its Inquiry into the licensing arrangements for generators in South Australia.
This Inquiry was conducted under Part 7 of the Essential Services Commission Act 2002 to determine whether or not there should be any changes to the Commission’s technical licensing conditions for electricity generators connected to the National Electricity Market (NEM).
In June 2016, the Commission commenced an Inquiry into whether or not any changes would be required to the technical licence conditions applying to electricity generators seeking to connect to the South Australian power system.
Since 2005, the Commission has applied additional conditions in licences for grid-scale, wind-powered generators. The licence conditions apply in the absence of national rules which effectively integrate new generation technologies, and are intended as a transitional arrangement until such time as adequate national rules come into effect.
Through the Inquiry the Commission considered:
- whether or not the current licence conditions for the grid connection of wind-powered electricity generators be removed, retained or varied, and
- whether or not any additional or amended technical requirements be imposed on other grid-scale inverter-connected electricity generators (such as solar generation) or other generation technologies and sources (including conventional synchronous generation).
The Commission has found that there is a need for it to continue to impose transitional technical conditions within licences for new electricity generators which are to be connected to the South Australian power system (regardless of generation type) – on the basis that this will protect South Australian consumers’ long-term interests with respect to the price, quality and reliability of essential services.
These transitional technical conditions, which will be consistent with and not duplicate existing national rules and frameworks, will require new generators to be better able to:
- ride through power system disturbances without prematurely disconnecting and will also be available to assist with remediating contingency events
- control their energy output to maintain stable operation of the power system (as well as being able to assist with the control of voltage and frequency, if required)
- manage and control voltages to support the network during disturbances and to efficiently transfer power
- be capable of operating in weak system conditions (where limited fault current is available), and
- assist with power system restoration, should there be a major outage on the power system.
While the new technical conditions will not apply to existing generators at this time, over the coming year, the Commission will work with the Australian Energy Market Operator, network service providers and existing generators to understand the extent to which additional services could be provided by those generators in a cost-efficient manner.
The Commission will continue to monitor and review developments in this sector, with a particular focus on changes in NEM rules and associated arrangements, with a view to removing its transitional local technical licence conditions should they become redundant in the future.