New renewable sources should help shore up reliability this summer.

The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) has released its Summer Readiness Plan.

The report expects Australia will have sufficient energy supply across the National Electricity Market (NEM) this summer, but uncertainty remains on the impact of COVID-19.

Each year, AEMO prepares a summer plan, collaborating with generation and transmission network providers, federal and state governments, and key agencies to actively manage heightened risks to power system operations.

AEMO’s Chief Operations Officer, Michael Gatt, says that operating conditions for summer are looking favourable, with additional generation capacity, an expected reduction in maximum demand compared to last summer, and current generator outages expected to be completed before the end of the year.

“We’re expecting less intense heatwave and bushfire conditions than last summer, but these still remain a prominent risk over this period. There is also an increased risk of tropical cyclones and flooding due to anticipated La Nina weather patterns,” Mr Gatt said.

“However, the NEM is in a more positive supply-demand position heading into the 2020/21 summer, with no supply shortfalls in excess of the reliability standard projected.

“This is primarily driven by up to 3,400 megawatts (MW) of new wind and solar generation capacity added since last summer, along with generation units expected to complete their planned outages before Christmas,” he said.

As a precautionary measure, AEMO has received expressions of interest for more than 1,900 MW of additional reserves through the Reliability and Emergency Reserve Trader (RERT) panel function.

These are used only if the market does not respond with enough supply or demand resources to meet the reliability standard or manage power system security incidents, such as the loss of multiple generation or transmission assets

“In consultation with governments, AEMO is entering into short notice panel agreements for RERT in Victoria, South Australia, Queensland and New South Wales,” Mr Gatt said.

“These panel agreements allow AEMO to manage the risk of not meeting the reliability standard, without committing to reserve contracts or availability payments until they are needed,” he said.