Aurecon facilitates the stakeholder consultation for AEMO’s 2020 Integrated System Plan.

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Stakeholder engagement for AEMO’s 2020 Integrated System Plan, Australia

Facilitating stakeholder consultation to inform AEMO’s 2020 Integrated System Plan

We’re currently in the world’s fastest energy transition, and the Integrated System Plan for Australia’s National Electricity Market (NEM) identifies essential actions to optimise consumer benefits in Australia.

This is to support Australia’s electricity grid transforming transitioning from fossil fuels to renewable energy, from centralised to distributed generation, from supply-led to demand-driven use.

The 2020 Integrated System Plan (ISP) modelling confirms that the least-cost, least-regret transition of the NEM is from a centralised coal-fired generation system to a highly diverse portfolio dominated by distributed energy resources and variable renewable energy. To ensure the country’s power system can reliably meet demand, dispatchable resources and enhanced grid and service capabilities are required.

The ISP provides an actionable roadmap for the NEM, to guide the transformation to more renewable energy supply. It aims to minimise costs and the risk of events that can adversely impact future power costs and consumer prices, while also maintaining the reliability and security of the power system.

For the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) to develop the ISP, Aurecon was engaged to facilitate stakeholder engagement, drawing together insights from industry specialists. To challenge and affirm the ISP’s logic, the process drew out constructive and critical input from AEMO’s stakeholders.

The ISP confirms that Australia is moving towards an electricity system dominated by distributed energy resources, and utility-scale solar and wind, supported by storage technologies such as pumped hydro and batteries.

Consultation for the 2020 ISP

Extensive consultation was undertaken with stakeholders through two rounds.

Round 1: Scenarios, inputs and assumptions

Prior to Aurecon’s appointment, AEMO conducted a first round of consultation focused on the scenarios and underlying assumptions used for the modelling to inform the Draft 2020 ISP.

Round 2: Review of Draft 2020 ISP

Following the release of the Draft ISP in December 2019, Aurecon consulted with industry, government, investors, academic and consumer stakeholders in Round 2. Aurecon’s consultation summary report from the workshops and webinar contained a summary of the written submissions and stakeholder engagements, along with AEMO’s responses to the material issues raised.

More than 170 stakeholders shared their insights and feedback in three public workshops, a webinar and formal written submissions. A variety of stakeholder engagement platforms were used to ensure that proponents in regional or remote locations were able to contribute.

Stakeholders were provided with the opportunity to voice their feedback on each aspect of the Draft 2020 ISP through the collaborative workshops and webinar. The second round of consultation resulted in targeted refinements of inputs and assumptions into the final ISP.

These included:

  • Changes in operating environment: COVID-19 changed near-term demand, supply and risks in the energy sector
  • Changes in regional policies: Tasmania announced its Renewable Energy Target supporting 200 per cent renewable energy by 2040, New South Wales has firmed up its commitment to develop the transmission needed to accommodate 3 GW of large-scale variable renewable energy, and Victoria is procuring a 250 MW battery
  • Changes in input costs: Capital cost estimates were redefined for grid-scale battery, new gas-powered generator and pumped hydro energy storage projects

A whole-of-system plan

The Integrated System Plan is a whole-of-system plan that identifies power system needs in the long-term interests of electricity consumers. It serves the regulatory purpose of identifying actionable and future projects, as well as the broader purposes of informing market participants, investors, policy decision makers and consumers.

The consultation process undertaken by Aurecon assisted AEMO to identify the most appropriate development options for Australia’s future energy and the most likely and optimal candidate development pathways.

When implemented alongside market and regulatory reforms, the targeted transmission investments identified in the Plan will bring the right resources into the system. It supports the creation of a modern, efficient and resilient energy system across scenarios over the next 20 years.

Following this contract, AEMO commissioned Aurecon for the GenCost 2020-21 report to assist with calculating the current costs and utilise its own data to project where these costs might move in the future. This, combined with industry feedback, is invaluable to produce the most accurate data possible for the future of energy generation and renewables in Australia.

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