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AEMO flags risk of energy crunch in South Australia

AEMO flags risk of energy crunch in South Australia

The energy market operator has warned South Australia may face a shortfall in electricity reserves, calling on generators to offer more power to the system.

“AEMO has forecast a supply constraint in South Australia on 4 June 2018 as a result of planned maintenance,” an AEMO spokesman said. “AEMO is seeking a market response."

AEMO has forecast a possible lack of energy in South Australia later this week.

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It has issued a Lack of Reserve (LOR) forecast for the state for next Monday. AEMO said a reserve of 455 megawatts was needed but only 333 megawatts were available.

LOR forecasts or notices are issued to encourage generators to offer more supply or large energy users such as manufacturers or smelters to reduce demand. Typically, they're issued when higher than average temperatures or heatwaves are expected, however, the state does not have any heatwave conditions forecast.

Earlier this month, AEMO released a series of reports saying the east coast came close to a series of blackouts, which were only averted by calling on this back-up power.

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AEMO reiterated that the LOR was “forecast only at this stage and may never materialise”.

“The Lack Of Reserve market notices are an industry notification mechanism that simply provides an indication to the market to encourage more generation,” a spokesman said. “We will continue to monitor reserve levels to maintain an adequate supply.”

South Australia and Victoria have both faced a number of LOR issues over the past 12 months, which have been blamed on their higher levels of variable renewable generation. It is understood that these states have fewer available generation reserves compared to states such as Tasmania, NSW or Queensland.

Tasmania is mostly powered by renewable generation but, unlike Victoria or South Australia, it has more generation than needed, uses hydropower rather than wind power, and is aiming to have 120 per cent of its energy needs powered by renewable generation.

South Australia's Tesla battery is playing a role in maintaining the state's back-up energy. The battery has been ensuring the balance between supply and demand - known as Frequency Controlled Ancillary Services - remains intact, jumping in to ensure there is a constant flow of power if large generators suddenly fail.

A source close to Tesla said if there was a slip in supply, the battery would respond in milliseconds to stabilise it.

Renewable energy retailer Flow Power managing director Matthew van der Linden said the rising number of LORs was related to these states’ energy mix but could also be triggered by available generation going offline for maintenance.

He said the market was moving towards more renewable intermittent power and the system needed to evolve to deal with this changing market.

The Sydney Morning Herald

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