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Australian market operator publishes 2020 Integrated System Plan [free access]

August 3, 2020

The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) recently published its 2020 Integrated System Plan (ISP), which lays out the optimal development path for the National Electricity Market (NEM) that will maximise consumer benefits and deliver AUD11 billion in net market benefits by 2040.


The ISP analysis indicates a highly diverse portfolio consisting of distributed energy resources (DER) and variable renewable energy (VRE), as coal plants phase out in the upcoming energy transition in the country.


The ISP identifies the required strategic investments in transmission infrastructure and renewable energy zones (REZs), to add generation capacity and balance variable resources across the NEM. The plan emphasises that it is critical to tightly manage the costs of constructing transmission lines, for benefits to be derived by the consumers.


The 2020 ISP identified four categories of transmission projects—committed, actionable, actionable (with decision rules) and future ISP projects—permitted to be developed by any transmission network service provider through the Renewable Investment Test -Transmission (RIT-T) process.


The previously committed ISP projects include the South Australian system strength remediation, the Western Victorian Transmission Network Project, and QNI (Queensland Interconnector) Minor, which is the addition of 150 MW of capacity on the New South Wales (NSW)–QNI.


The 2020 actionable ISP projects include—


Two more projects deemed actionable (with additional decision rules) include the VNI West, which is a high voltage alternating current (HVAC) interconnector between Victoria and NSW; and the Marinus Link, which entails two new high voltage direct current (HVDC) cables connecting Victoria and Tasmania, each with 750 MW of transfer capacity and associated AC transmission.


Lastly, the future ISP projects include major upgrades to the NSW–QNI, and grid augmentations in Queensland, NSW and Victoria, which are all included in the optimal development path for the NEM.