17 May, 2017
Courtesy of the Adelaide Advertiser
THE nation’s energy supply is now less reliable because coal and gas power stations are being pulled from the grid — and the impact has been worst in South Australia, a report reveals.
The Australian Energy Market Commission’s annual report into the reliability of the grid found that the “trend” to replace traditional power stations with wind and solar must be “viewed with caution”.
Energy Minister Tom Koutsantonis said the report was another reminder the national market was broken but Opposition Leader Steven Marshall blamed the State Government’s unplanned rush to renewable energy sources.
It comes as SA Power Networks had its 2017-18 pricing proposals approved, which would result in the typical annual household bill increasing by $18 because of network and metering charges.
The report showed the state’s power prices were the most volatile because of the 108 “price events” which occurred nationally in 2015-16, half of which were in SA.
Forecasts on energy demand were the least reliable for SA, which has the potential to create a shortfall in supply, which happened in February this year.
“While the withdrawal of synchronous coal-fired and gas plants is being partially offset by the entry of more intermittent wind and solar generation, this trend needs to be viewed with caution,” the report found.
“Looking ahead, a supply shortfall is forecast for Victoria, SA and NSW in the short to medium term if sufficient additional investment does not come from the market.”
The report stated there was a “significant withdrawal” of traditional large spinning power generators in SA.
These generators rotate at the same speed as the frequency of the system, which lessens the impact of a sudden disturbance to the power system such as the loss of another generator or power lines being knocked over.
It found that not only did this risk creating more frequency disturbances, which could cause more localised blackouts, but that emergency control schemes may not be able to prevent a broader system disruption — widespread blackouts.
There were also more “lack of reserve” notices, which the market operator issues when it fears there could be a supply shortage, in SA than any other region for eight of the last 10 years.
The report noted that in the next 10 years, rooftop solar panels would be able to cater for the minimum power demand in the state.
Mr Koutsantonis said a lack of policy direction on carbon pricing from the Federal Government has resulted in the disorderly exit of coal generation without incentivising replacements.
“Our energy plan will improve grid security through the construction of a new state-owned gas power station and Australia’s largest battery,” he said.
Mr Marshall said the report was further proof that SA has the most expensive and least reliable electricity system in the nation.
“The Weatherill Labor Government was warned not to rush towards intermittent generation at the expense of cheap, reliable baseload power but they did it anyway,” he said.
“South Australian households and businesses are paying the price for the Weatherill Labor Government’s bad policies.”