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Wind power ready to support the grid

Wind energy in Australia has just hit a historic milestone, demonstrating for the first time that it can provide system services that stabilise the grid.

A trial at Neoen Australia’s Hornsdale Wind Farm, supported by ARENA, AEMO and turbine manufacturer, Siemens-Gamesa, successfully demonstrated that wind can enhance grid safety, security and reliability in a way that has until now been the preserve of coal, gas and hydro plants. In fact, the trial showed that wind farms were able to respond to grid frequency needs with greater precision than conventional generators. While wind farms in other parts of the world, including in Germany, UK, Ireland and Texas, have been required to provide frequency control for many years, this is the first demonstration of this capability in Australia.

The upshot of the trial is that wind farms and batteries are now able to ensure grid stability in a way that increases competition and keeps prices down.

Franck Woitiez, Managing Director at Neoen Australia, described how the Hornsdale Wind Farm, together with the Hornsdale Power Reserve (aka Tesla’s Big Battery) were able to do participate in the Frequency Control and Ancillary Services (FCAS) market in South Australia in January.

“The FCAS delivered from Hornsdale has already proved its impact on the market. On the 14th of January, when FCAS Regulation prices were forecast to reach $9,000 per MWh – compared to the typical $20 per MWh – Neoen bid additional capacity into the market from both Hornsdale 2 and the Hornsdale Power Reserve. This brought the price down to below $300 for the duration of the interconnector maintenance,” said Franck Woitiez, Managing Director at Neoen Australia.

“During this time, the South Australian market saw an approximate saving of $3.1 million due to this increased competition. It’s a great initiative for the nation, for companies and for Australian pockets,” Woitiez continued.

A second trial has just been announced at Woolnorth Wind Farm in Tasmania, again supported by ARENA, to further explore the commercial issues around how wind farms can participate in the FCAS market.

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