NT outlines “priority” electricity market reforms on road to 50% renewables

The Northern Territory Labor government has outlined a list of key electricity market reforms, in a long-awaited first step towards smoothing the way to a grid it has pledged will be 50 per cent renewable by 2020.

The priority reforms, outlined in consultation papers published late last week, aim to address core issues of system security and reliability, boosting private investment, and maximising the amount of renewable power in the network.

The plan is to invite electricity industry stakeholders to consult on the detail and implementation of the reforms, which will be on public display until the end of July, through submissions and stakeholder workshops.

  1. “The Northern Territory electricity supply industry is undergoing a significant transition and reform is required to facilitate increased market entrants and emerging technologies that will support the government’s target of 50 per cent renewable energy by 2030, while maintaining secure, reliable and least-cost electricity for consumers and taxpayers,” one of the papers says[1].

The government has been under increasing pressure from industry for taking too long to implement reforms to the Territory’s electricity regulations, and playing a clumsy game of catch-up as more and more solar is added to rooftops and to the grid.

This sort of reactive approach was, for many, embodied by the proposed introduction of highly controversial rules[2] that would require most new large-scale solar projects to install individual batteries.

The government has since announced the procurement of a large-scale battery energy storage system[3] (BESS) for the Darwin-Katherine system, at a project cost of $30 million, as a different approach to solving the problem of smoothing high solar penetration.

“The Territory’s power systems are evolving as we transition to solar,” the government said in a statement on Friday.

“With current and committed large-scale solar projects planned for construction in 2020, and projected residential and commercial rooftop solar system installations, renewable energy is expected to supply up to 16 per cent of electricity consumption by the end of 2020.”

The list of reforms outlined in the consultation papers will focus on improving the coordination of solar and gas-fired generators), ensuring sufficient generation capacity and reliability, facilitating payments between retailers and generators (settlement), and improving the efficiency of the provision of essential power system security services.

These are detailed more clearly in the table below.

“Territory Labor is delivering more renewables because we know it means cheaper, cleaner power and more local jobs,” energy and renewables minister Dale Wakefield said.

“These market reforms will encourage private investment in the new and innovative technology that will allow more renewables in our electricity system while ensuring reliable and secure power.”

The Northern Territory Electricity Market Priority Reform Program and Essential Systems Services consultation papers can be found at https://business.nt.gov.au/electricityreforms[4]

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  1. ^ papers says (business.nt.gov.au)
  2. ^ proposed introduction of highly controversial rules (reneweconomy.com.au)
  3. ^ since announced the procurement of a large-scale battery energy storage system (reneweconomy.com.au)
  4. ^ https://business.nt.gov.au/electricityreforms (business.nt.gov.au)
  5. ^ One Step Off The Grid (onestepoffthegrid.com.au)
  6. ^ The Driven (thedriven.io)
  7. ^ voluntary donation here (www.reneweconomy.com.au)

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