Energy Minister Tom Koutsantonis and Premier Jay Weatherill speak to the media about the final report from the AEMO. Picture: Mike Burton
AS a new report finds the statewide blackout would have been averted if not for software failures at wind farms, energy authorities have warned high power prices are here to stay.
The Australian Energy Market Operator on Tuesday released its fourth and final report into the statewide blackout on September 28 last year.
It found that a huge and powerful storm knocked out powerlines in SA’s north — and that the subsequent shock to the grid led to nine wind farms shutting down.
That huge drop in wind power led to the interconnector with Victoria tripping as extra power was sought through the cable, and causing the catastrophic blackout.
The AEMO report said a statewide blackout would have been avoided if the wind farms had not failed. However, it blamed software rather than green energy for that collapse.
“Had the generation deficit not occurred, AEMO’s modelling indicates SA would have remained connected to Victoria and the black system would have been avoided,” the report says.
“AEMO cannot rule out the possibility that later events could have caused a black system but is not aware of any system damage that would have done this.”
Energy Minister Tom Koutsantonis and Premier Jay Weatherill speak to the media about the final report from the AEMO. Picture: Mike BurtonSource:News Corp Australia
AEMO chairman Anthony Marxsen said there had been similar failures with other forms of energy generation, pointing to the Torrens Island fire earlier this month that almost sparked another statewide blackout when large gas-fired plants rapidly went offline.
He added: “It’s not the type of generation that was the factor that caused the problem. It was the fact there was a control system on those (wind) generators, just as there had been in other cases with other classes of generation, that acted in an unexpected way.”
AEMO launched the report at an event in Adelaide where the heads of SA’s two major electricity grid operators warned there was no short-term salvation from high prices.
SA Power Networks chief Rob Stobbe said the cost to homes of maintaining poles and wires was steady as power generation prices surged.
“The price of gas generation sets the price of the market,” he said. “By definition, with the price of gas almost doubling in the last two years … I don’t see prices coming down.”
And ElectraNet chief Steve Masters added that he didn’t see electricity prices coming down fast soon”.
“We’ve got a country that’s got plenty of coal, gas, wind and sun and yet we face the dilemma in relation to electricity prices,” he said.
“The dilemma has been here for a while and the frameworks around it haven’t got the end result for consumers.”
AEMO said changes had been made to wind-farm settings to prevent future statewide blackouts and that they performed well during the Torrens Island fire this month.
Federal Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg said the report was a “wake-up call”, while Premier Jay Weatherill said the country needed more renewable energy in the grid.