AEMO says that if the right measures are taken, Australia’s energy grid could support up to 75 per cent renewable energy.

The number of residential solar photovoltaic (PV) systems in Australia is up from less than 100,000 customers a decade ago to more than 2.2 million today.  

However, these small-scale generators are causing new challenges to the reliability and security of the grid, from the local ‘poles and wires’ networks, right through to the national power system.

AEMO recently released its Renewable Integration Study highlighting that Australia has the technical capability to operate its power system with at times up to 75 per cent  of renewable energy, if recommended actions are implemented well ahead of 2025.

These actions include elements of the Energy Security Board’s (ESB) Market 2025 reform program, investing in critical transmission resources identified in AEMO’s Integration System Plan, and importantly, introducing standards to maximise the potential contribution of distributed solar PV.

“What we’ve found is that, in very unique and extreme circumstances in an increasing number of regions, there may be times where there is so much rooftop solar energy in the system,” AEMO says.

“That, combined with extremely low demand (for example a mild Spring weekend) and rare system events like an interconnector outage, [mean] additional risks to the system will arise.

“In truly extreme circumstances, the system may go black if emergency controls are not available.

“With rooftop solar panels being installed every 6.5 minutes in Australia, now is the time to ensure we manage potential issues and harness future value for consumers investing in distributed resources and all energy users with an efficient and secure electricity system.”