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NEM network connection updates

The area of the Victorian and NSW power system bounded by Ballarat, Dederang, and Darlington Point (referred to as ‘West Murray’) has attracted significant investment in grid-scale solar and wind generation, despite being a remote and electrically weak part of the NEM.

The rapid scale and pace of inverter-based renewable generator connections in remote areas of the National Electricity Market (NEM) is resulting in unprecedented technical issues impacting grid performance and operational stability. 

The nature, extent and causes of these issues are only becoming apparent with the advanced and very detailed modelling capability that is now essential for technical assessments in weak areas of the grid. 

For more information, please refer to our Power System Limitations report (422 KB, pdf)

In-progress connection applications

AEMO has notified proponents that instability issues impacting the West Murray area are delaying the assessment of projects in commissioning and those waiting for registration.

Detailed modelling is now absolutely essential for technical assessments in weak areas of the grid, but the level of detail inevitably makes that process slower.

AEMO is dedicating significant resources to the development and testing of solutions to re-establish a stable base case on which to progress commissioning plant and the connection of already committed projects.

AEMO acknowledges and appreciates the patience and cooperation of all impacted stakeholders as we focus our efforts on resolving existing system stability issues as a necessary prerequisite to assessing additional inverter-connected generation in the area.

Prospective connection applicants

Other developers interested in connecting generation in the West Murray and surrounding area are encouraged to contact their local NSP or AEMO before making significant financial commitments, to discuss whether, when and how they might be able to progress their project.

Prospective developers and current applicants should be aware of the following key requirements:

  • AEMO will not be able to progress any assessment of proposed performance standards without a complete, site-specific PSCAD model.
  • A full system strength impact assessment will be required for all new and modified connections proposed. System strength connection works or remediation schemes will be needed as a minimum. However, it will not be possible for significantly more generation to connect or generate at full output ahead of significant investment in network infrastructure.
  • Most grid-scale generation in the West Murray area (including existing and committed generation) will be subject to thermal and voltage stability constraints.

Proponents looking to connect into the West Murray network should consider that there are currently around 1,200 MW of committed (pre-commissioning) inverter-based generation projects and about 3,000 MW in the application phase. 

The currently identified maximum thermal network limit for the West Murray region is 1,700 MW.

Thermal and stability limits mean it will not be possible for many of these projects to connect or generate at full output ahead of significant investment in network infrastructure.

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