Cloud tool could streamline Australian renewable energy connections

Out-Law News | 30 Aug 2021 | 6:05 am | 1 min. read

The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) is developing a cloud-based connections simulation tool which it hopes will reduce the time it takes for developers to connect projects to the National Electricity Market (NEM).

The tool is designed to help developers prepare their connection applications for new projects more efficiently.

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) is providing a A$2.23 million ($1.6m) grant for the project.

As a part of the connection process in Australia, developers of energy projects are required to submit models to AEMO outlining the impact of the proposed project on the grid. That process can become protracted and costly with developers needing to modify and update the models based on feedback from AEMO. This has been a particular issue for developers of large-scale renewable energy projects.

The new tool is reported as “a world first”, and will provide “applicants portal access to protected wide-area models, equivalent to those used within AEMO”, AEMO said.

This will give developers an opportunity to better understand both how their project will interact with the grid and how any connection application will be assessed by AEMO; the tool will allow the developer to run simulations on the same platform that AEMO uses to assess the connection application.

Leanne Olden of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law, said: “It is expected that the new tool will streamline the approval of connection applications for all stakeholders and will support a growing renewable energy market in Australia.”

Testing of a working prototype with industry participants will soon start, followed by a staged rollout of the connection simulation tool.

The first major release is planned for the end of this year. AEMO will work collaboratively with industry and trial users, and incorporate stakeholder feedback at each stage.