The Australian Energy Market Operator has reported record levels of new projects and megawatts of wind and solar coming into the main grid in the last year, and also reveals there are nearly 10 times as many projects queuing for a spot on the network.
In its latest “State of the Systems” report, a new publication designed to enhance visibility of the workings of the often contentious grid connection process, AEMO says that 12 new wind and solar generators with a total capacity of 1,560MW completed their commissioning in 2020, and are now in commercial operation.
But in a sign of the delays being experienced in some regions, it also notes that another 32 generators with a total capacity of 3,301MW had successfully completed the connections process and registered, meaning they were mechanically complete and compliant, but were yet to enter commercial operation. This was expected to occur in “coming weeks and months.”
And there is more to come. A further 15 projects with a total capacity of 3,004MW have successfully completed the first stage of the connection process and have now became “committed” projects, meaning they are being built now, or about to start construction, while another 342 proposed generators (with an unstated capacity) are currently in various stages of connecting and registering across all NEM regions.
“2020 was also another year of growth for generators interested in connecting within the NEM,” AEMO says in its note to stakeholders. “Despite the pandemic and the technical challenges in the transitioning network, the development of renewable generators continues to be strong.”
The highest profile victim of commissioning delays has been Australia’s biggest wind project, the 530MW Stockyard Hill wind farm in central Victoria, which completed construction last year but is still waiting for registration and to start the commissioning process. It is understood the problems relate to risks of “oscillation” cited for many other projects, but neither AEMO nor project owner and developer Goldwind have commented.