As the generation mix changes we need new ways to control frequency when the wind stops blowing and the sun stops shining. Frequency varies whenever electricity supply does not exactly match consumer demand and uncontrolled changes in frequency can cause widespread blackouts. This year we have worked on an extensive package of new rules to enable new technologies and service providers to provide frequency control services. The program will develop over time in response to Australian Energy Market Operator(AEMO) -led trials particularly in relation on how new business models like virtual power plants can be integrated.

We are also working on adapting the intervention framework including directions and instructions so it is fit for the changing power system and only used when necessary.

Frequency control work plan

The frequency of the power system varies whenever the electricity supply does not precisely match customer demand. The gradual shift toward more variable sources of electricity generation and consumption, and difficulties in predicting this variability, increases the potential for imbalances between supply and demand that can cause frequency disturbances. At the same time, there has been a reduction in the frequency control services provided by conventional technologies, which is requiring newer technologies to innovate to provide these services.

The Commission has already introduced a range of new tools and obligations to address the immediate system security needs of the transforming system. Our Frequency control frameworks review recommended further changes to the market and regulatory frameworks to maintain effective frequency control as the generation mix changes.

The final report for the frequency control frameworks review included a work plan that documents actions being undertaken by the AEMO, the Australian Energy Regulator (AER) and the AEMC to address the issues identified through the review in relation to frequency control.

Learn more about our Frequency control work plan.

AEMC’s system security and reliability action plan

Our work on frequency control and system strength is part of the AEMC’s broader system security and reliability work program. We are developing market frameworks which allow continued take-up of new generating technologies while keeping the lights on at the least cost to consumers.

Our forward looking work program on energy and emissions

The power system is transitioning, with a large number of renewable generators like wind and solar farms connecting, while older generators are retiring. At the household level, the last decade has seen a significant increase in the uptake of new technologies such has rooftop solar photovoltaic systems, battery storage and ‘smart’ energy management systems.

New technologies provide opportunities and challenges. The AEMC is supporting the transition to a lower emissions power sector by making rules and providing advice on:

  • integrating energy and emissions policy
  • least cost solutions to keep the lights on as the power system transitions
  • integrating new technology into the power system by identifying and addressing potential barriers in regulatory frameworks.

See more about transitioning to a lower emissions power system.