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Australia Risks Blackouts if Urgent Energy Investments Are Delayed

Australia faces electricity reliability gaps over the next decade if urgent investments in transmission infrastructure are not made on time, the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) said on Tuesday.

AEMO published today an update to the 2023 Electricity Statement of Opportunities (ESOO) report, the 10-year reliability outlook for the National Electricity Market (NEM). The update was triggered after the regulator received new information on new commissioning dates for Project EnergyConnect, mothballed gas generators in South Australia, and approximately 4.6 gigawatts (GW) of new generation and storage projects.

These are part of what AEMO described as “material changes impacting reliability risks since the 2023 ESOO was published last August.”

EnergyConnect is a 560-mile transmission line to connect grids across three Australian states and is now delayed to full capacity in July 2027, compared to a previous timeline to be fully operational in July 2026.

According to AEMO, reliability risks in the Central scenario, relative to the 2023 reliability outlook, have increased in New South Wales between 2024-25 and 2027-28 due to advised delays to previously considered battery projects and revised assumptions for demand allocation within New South Wales. Risks have also increased for the state of Victoria until 2027-28 due to mothballed generators in South Australia and transmission limitations affecting flows into Melbourne. South Australia also risks reliability gaps in 2026-27 due to the advised delay of Project EnergyConnect Stage 2 after the previously advised closure timings of the Torrens Island B and Osborne Power Stations, resulting in a newly identified reliability gap, AEMO said.

“The urgency for the timely delivery of transmission, generation and storage, and use of consumer electricity resources to support the grid, remains to meet consumers’ energy needs,” AEMO CEO Daniel Westerman said.

“While new generation and storage capacity continues to increase, project development and commissioning delays are impacting reliability throughout the horizon,” Westerman added.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for