The preliminary report explains how severe weather moved through South Australia on the afternoon of Wednesday 28 September 2016, with high winds, thunderstorms, lightning strikes, hail, and heavy rainfall. The weather resulted in multiple transmission system faults including, in the space of 12 seconds, the loss of three major 275 kV transmission lines north of Adelaide.
Generation initially rode through the faults, but at 16:18hrs, following multiple faults in a short period, 315 MW of wind generation disconnected, affecting the region north of Adelaide. The uncontrolled reduction in generation increased the flow on the main Victorian interconnector (Heywood) to make up the deficit and resulted in the interconnector overloading.
To avoid damage to the interconnector, the automatic-protection mechanism activated, tripping the interconnector and resulting in the remaining customer load and electricity generation in SA being lost. This automatic-protection operated in less than half a second at 16:18hrs and the event resulted in the SA regional electricity market being suspended.
Energy experts are still scratching their heads about what they could have done to prevent the massive, state-wide blackout that occurred in the midst of a one-in-50-years storm last month. The answer may lay inside South Australian homes. Or at least, it should do. And it’s battery storage.
Dean Spaccavento, the CEO of Australian energy management software company Reposit Power, says battery storage placed in thousands of homes in Adelaide and the surrounding region – and linked through smart software – could have provided the emergency supply to help stabilise the network at its moment of crisis.
In a matter of seconds, the interconnector became overloaded as it made up for lost power on the South Australia network following the catastrophic series of events that saw three of the main transmission lines disconnect as pylons crashed to the ground.
Battery storage, Spaccavento says, could have provided the emergency system back-up. “That would have stopped the cascading dominoes,” he says. And not a lot would have been required.
The idea that storage could have helped avoid the crisis is not new. AGL, which operates the biggest gas generator in the state, said earlier this week that the best way to offer energy security was through distributed generation and storage and micro-grids, and this could only happen with renewable energy.
That’s the trick with battery storage, to unlock its value streams; no easy task in a grid designed to operate with decades old technology and even older thinking.
What an energy market operator needs most of all in a crisis is time. The interim AEMO report shows that the crisis played out in less than a minute, the most dramatic events occurring in the space of a few seconds, or even fractions of seconds.
That’s what makes battery storage so attractive. It can respond in milliseconds, providing network support, or outright power – sometimes for only short periods of time. But quite possibly enough for the operator to marshal its defences and get slow-moving gas generators online and other support.
Spaccavento points out that battery storage could not be expected to power the state for any lengthy period. It is designed to hold the system steady for a short period of time so the operator can look at other long-term solutions.
“On September 28, we don’t know what happens next. But storage could have given the operator time to find another option,” he told RenewEconomy.
Komplexes System: Eine tatsächliche Ursache gibt es nicht, verschiedene an und für sich beherrschbare Einzelereignisse haben in letzter Konsequenz zum Blackout geführt. Eine klare Schuldzuweisung entspricht unserem linearen Denken.
Eine sehr interessante Erfahrung, die wir nutzen sollten und unserem Energiezellendenken entspricht. Zwar noch der „Endversion“, aber der Basisversion, die wohl bei uns auch bald einen Durchbruch erlangen wird, wenn die Speicherpreise sinken. Nicht nur Elon Musk stellt hier die Rute ins Fenster, sondern auch die österreichische Firma Kreisel Electric, die auch schon im Fahrzeugmarkt mitmischt. Sie stellt bereits mit konkreten Preisen ihren MAVERO Heimspeicher in Aussicht.
Zum anderen zeigt das Blackout in Australien, dass die Energiewende nicht gefahrlos abläuft – schon gar nicht mit der steigenden Zahl von Extremwetterlagen aufgrund des Klimawandels.