Thermal Power

10 Oct 2020

Power Link to Replace Gas-Fired Plants in S Australia

10 Oct 2020  by Kevin Morrison   

The proposed 800MW electricity transmission link between South Australia and New South Wales (NSW), known as EnergyConnect, will replace gas-fired plants in South Australia where the fuel provides around half of the state's electricity supply, said the two transmission firms planning to build the new power link.

The 860km EnergyConnect project also includes a spur line into the state of Victoria, and is a key part of the blueprint to transition Australia's power grid network to a lower greenhouse gas emissions system under the Integrated System Plan. The project would be the first inter-state interconnector in eastern Australia in more than 15 years. The project is forecast to be completed in 2023.

The A$2.4bn ($1.72bn) interconnector will provide access to additional capacity when needed to replace expensive gas generation and improve power system resilience and security, the South Australian based transmission network operator ElectraNet said in its submission to the Australian Energy Regulator (AER) to seek regulatory approval for the project.

This was also echoed in the AER submission by the NSW-based transmission firm TransGrid, which said EnergyConnect will reduce reliance on increasingly costly gas plant in South Australia for dispatchable capacity and for system stability.

South Australia used an average of 157 TJ/d (4.19mn m³) for power generation in the 2019-20 fiscal year to 30 June, down from 175 TJ/d in 2018-19 and below the average of 160 TJ/d from 2008-09 to 2019-20, the AER data showed. This equated to around half of the state's power generation output.

More recent data is indicating that the share of gas-fired generation in South Australia has declined from its 2019-20 levels. In the past 12 months, renewables, mainly solar and wind, accounted for 57.5pc of all power generation in South Australia, followed by gas with 43.8pc, according to the OpenNem website. Solar and wind generated 50pc of power in the state in 2019-20.

The Australian Energy Market Operator (Aemo) earlier this year forecast that gas demand for power generation in South Australia may fall by up to 80pc under three scenarios for the outlook of the state's electricity generation.

Under Aemo's central scenario, the EnergyConnect project would be a factor in the reduction in gas-fired output in South Australia. It also projected that there would be a progressive retirement of the 480MW Torrens Island A gas-fired power station from 2020-22 and the 180MW Osborne gas-fired power station during 2022-23.

"The interconnector allows us to reach our net-100pc renewables goal sooner, whilst securing our grid," South Australian energy minister Dan van Holst Pellekaan said in a statement.

The minister, who is part of the ruling Liberal-National party coalition state government, has set a renewable energy target for South Australia of 100pc by 2030.

EnergyConnect will also unlock billions of dollars in investment, such as Stage 3 of the Lincoln Gap wind farm to 464MW from 126MW at present and the A$3bn Goyder South project, which consists of 1,200MW of wind power; 600MW of solar and 900MW of battery storage, van Holst Pellekaan said.

The view of the South Australia state government towards power generation contrasts with that of the ruling Liberal-National party of the federal government, which unveiled a gas-led economic recovery plan.

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