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Australia’s Draft 2020 Integrated System Plan calls for more pumped hydro

Australia’s Draft 2020 Integrated System Plan (ISP) published earlier this month, intended to be an “actionable” roadmap for the efficient development of the National Electricity Market, calls for more pumped hydro in the system.

The Draft 2020 ISP, released by the Australian Energy Market Operator, uses forecasts of demand and generation retirements, scenario modelling and comprehensive engineering analysis to develop an optimal development path for the country’s energy future. The outcome of this analysis sets out the investment opportunities for the market and targeted transmission augmentation necessary to achieve the best outcomes for consumers.

As in the 2018 plan, the Draft 2020 ISP identifies the investments needed for Australia’s future energy system: in distributed energy resources; variable renewable energy; supporting dispatchable resources and power system services; and the transmission grid.

To highlight the changes occurring within the power system, the Draft 2020 ISP identifies:

  • Rooftop solar capacity is expected to double or even triple, providing up to 22% of total energy by 2040.
  • More than 30 GW of large-scale renewable energy is needed to replace coal-fired generation by 2040, with 63% of Australia’s coal-fired generation set to retire by then.
  • Up to 21 GW of new dispatchable resources are needed to back up renewables, in the form of utility-scale pumped hydro or battery storage, demand response such as demand-side participation, and distributed batteries participating as virtual power plants.
  • System services including voltage control, system strength, frequency management, power system inertia and dispatchability all need to be managed as the generation mix changes.
  • Targeted and strategic investment in the grid is needed to balance resources across states and unlock much-needed Renewable Energy Zones (REZ).

The list of Group 1 (Priority) projects — which are critical to address cost, security and reliability issues and should be either under way or commencing soon — include:

  • A new 330-kv transmission line from Robertstown in South Australia to Wagga Wagga in NSW (EnergyConnect)
  • A new interconnection from Western Victoria to southern NSW and Snowy 2.0, to enable energy from the upgraded Snowy 2.0 pumped hydro generators to flow to Victorian towns and cities and to unlock large-scale renewable generation in Victoria (VNI West)
  • An upgrade of the existing interconnection from Queensland to NSW (QNI)
  • An upgrade of the existing interconnection from Victoria to NSW (VNI)
  • A new interconnection from Tumut to Bannaby to reinforce the southern NSW grid (HumeLink)
  • Augmentation of the western Victorian transmission system to efficiently unlock renewable generation
  • Increasing inertia and fault current in South Australian transmission networks

AEMO’s stakeholder collaboration and consultation will continue up to the finalization of the 2020 ISP in mid-2020.