The final report for the AEMC’s Frequency control frameworks review was published in July 2018. The report details a frequency control work plan that sets out actions the Commission, the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) and the Australian Energy Regulator (AER) will take to support the stable and secure operation of the power system in relation to frequency control.

Stable frequency is an important part of maintaining a secure power system. Frequency varies whenever electricity supply does not exactly match consumer demand and uncontrolled changes in frequency can cause blackouts. As the generation mix changes to include more variable generation we need new ways to control frequency to deliver better frequency performance across the system. 

To date, the AEMC has made a number of rule changes to address the immediate system security needs of the transforming system. This includes requirements for networks to provide minimum levels of inertia and system strength, and new ‘last line of defence’ schemes to help AEMO better prepare for, and respond to, a system security emergency.

The AEMC’s frequency control work plan, which is now underway, sets out actions to make the most of existing equipment as well as harnessing the power of new technologies to help keep the power system stable. It includes new rules and operating techniques, and more transparent and regular reporting of frequency performance to inform investment and operating decisions.

Frequency control work plan

The final report for the frequency control frameworks review included a collaborative work plan that set out a series of actions that would be progressed by the AEMC, AEMO and the AER. An overview of the status of this frequency control work plan is provided in the table below:

Action Status

1. AEMO-led trials and other actions to determine how frequency performance can be improved in the short term and to facilitate the integration of new business models like virtual power plants

  • AEMO, AEMC and AER to establish a virtual power plant program in the national electricity market to understand the technical and regulatory requirements associated with virtual power plants providing frequency control ancillary services (FCAS) and energy and network support services
  • AEMO published a consultation paper In November 2018.
  • Virtual power plant trials planned for Q2 2019. 
  • AEMO to conduct a primary frequency control trial in the mainland NEM, building on experience from the Tasmanian trial.
  • Ongoing 

2. Detailed consideration of ways to procure essential frequency services in the longer term in a way that recognises the capabilities of all potential technologies and service providers

  • AEMO to coordinate changes to generator governor settings following results of the survey conducted in April 2018
  • Ongoing 
  • AEMO to publish a revised causer pays procedure and frequency interval data closer to real time
  • AEMO to update the market ancillary services specification (MASS), refining expectations for how services should be delivered
  • AEMO review of the MASS planned to start in Q1 2019
  • AEMO to conduct automatic generation control (AGC) tuning as part of upgrade of its energy management system software
  • Ongoing
  • AEMO to investigate and increase the quantity of regulating FCAS on a static or dynamic basis if necessary
  • AEMO undertook a two month trial of increased regulation FCAS volumes from October to December 2018. AEMO is analysing data collected during the trial and will provide further information in early 2019. Ref Market notice 64715.
  • Industry to establish a set of nationally-consistent grid connection guidelines for distributed energy resources. The guidelines should include appropriate value and incentives for the provision of system security services by distributed energy resources.
  • The ENA is developing technical guidelines through stakeholder consultation that will provide transparency regarding the technical requirements for distributed energy resources.
  • In May 2018 the Electricity Network Australia (ENA)  published its Distributed Energy Resources - Grid Connection Guidelines Framework and Principles.These principles will guide the continued development of the Distributed energy resources guidelines.

3. New rules to enable new technologies and service providers to provide frequency control services

  • AER to submit rule change requests on:
  •  AEMO monitoring and reporting of frequency performance
  • AER monitoring and reporting on FCAS market performance
  • Rule change request to be submitted
  •   AEMO to submit a rule change request to allow Small Generation Aggregators to classify small generating units as market ancillary service generating units
  •  AEMO, in collaboration with the Commission and the AER, is exploring aggregator frameworks for participation in FCAS markets through VPP demonstrations
  •  Reliability Panel to publish a draft determination on stage two of the Review of the frequency operating standard
  •  AEMO to assess the longer-term needs of the power system taking a holistic view of inertia, primary and secondary frequency control and any new needs. This will include assessing whether interim measures might be needed before long term mechanisms can be established.
  •  The AEMC to consider how the frequency requirements in relation to the maintenance of a satisfactory operating state are specified in the NER and the frequency operating standard
  •  Ongoing
  •  The AEMC to develop a mechanism to incentivise the provision of sufficient quantities of primary frequency control services (and other services) informed by outcomes from trials and international approaches.
  •    Expected start: late 2019
  •  Reliability Panel to make further updates to the frequency operating standard when needed.
  •   As required

4. Regular reporting by AEMO and the AER on frequency outcomes to promote transparency and help market participants make investment and operational decisions:

  •  AEMO to monitor and report on frequency outcomes on a voluntary basis
  •  AER to report on FCAS markets performance
  •  Ongoing
  •  Ongoing