A report into the South Australian blackout on 8 February 2017 was released by the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) today.
AEMO noted in the report that it is conducting an ongoing investigation of the sequence of events and that if required, an additional report will be published.
The report shows that leading up to the event demand was higher than forecast, wind generation was lower than forecast and thermal capacity was reduced due to forced outages.
AEMO also confirmed that after it contacted generators to explore options to increase supply, it became apparent there was insufficient generation to meet demand and load shedding became the only option to restore system security.
At 6:03pm, AEMO directed ElectraNet to interrupt 100MW of customer supply to restore system security and avoid the risk of a wider scale disruption.
The report however highlights that actual load shedding was considerably higher by the local network operator, approximately 300MW. SA Power Networks has now confirmed that the additional load shedding was the result of a software error, the cause of which they are continuing to investigate.
At 6:30pm AEMO directed load to be restored.
The report also provides a breakdown of generation preceding the event. At that time:
· Thermal generation was supplying 68 per cent of South Australia’s electricity, operating at 81 per cent of its capacity and producing at near its highest point for the day.
· Wind generation was supplying 3 per cent of South Australia’s electricity, operating at 6 per cent capacity and at near its lowest point for the day. Fifty per cent lower than the forecast 2 hours earlier and down 90 per cent from its highest point of the day.
· Solar generation was supplying 5 per cent of South Australia’s electricity, operating at 22 per cent of its capacity and producing at less than a third of its peak for the day.
· Interconnectors were supplying the balance of power into South Australia (24 per cent) and were operating at 93 per cent of its capacity.
The report confirms the complexity and fragility of maintaining energy security in South Australia.
In particular the difficulty of forecasting and managing high levels of intermittent generation.
That is why the Turnbull Government is focused on energy storage and ensuring sufficient baseload power in the system.
In addition, the Federal Government has asked the Australian Energy Regulator to investigate the action of generation market participants in South Australia on 8 February 2016.