PSC joins Young Energy Professionals (YEP) hosted field trip to AEMO
May 8, 2024
Kioni Ndirangu

The PSC team were invited to participate in a control room tour, including interactive sessions with key stakeholders, at the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO). The visit was organised by the Australian Institute of Energy’s (AIE) YEP Sydney chapter in April 2024.

The sessions delivered by the AEMO team covered:

  • The evolving digital landscape and its role in the energy transition
  • AEMO’s real time operations, in a simulated control room
  • A review of the power system incident that led to blackouts in Victoria, early 2024

Digital landscape and architecture

This session focused on the role AEMO plays in the rapidly changing energy market. As both the energy network operator and energy market operator, AEMO needs robust and secure digital platforms to carry out its core functions. With the advances in digital technologies emerging, AEMO’s internal Digital team is working to understand how it can harness these advancements to deliver even greater value to the market and ensuring security for the long term.

With AEMO’s unique position in the evolution of the energy industry, new opportunities are emerging to build on its current functions, to remove cost and complexity from the system, and to provide value added services.

Victorian power system incident

This session offered a demonstration of how AEMO manages the network during major incidents through a recent real-life event. On 13 February 2024, a storm led to the collapse of two 500 kV transmission lines. The consequence of this was the loss of 2690 MW of generation lost from the network and 1000 MW of load being shaken off.

Our presenter took us through the minutes and hours that followed this event, stepping through each stage, each action and consequence, and how the system was eventually restored.

This example gave us deeper insight into the role AEMO plays as both the network operator and market operator in balancing supply and demand, managing bids from generators, and taking action to restore the network when it is disrupted.

Real time operations (Control room)

Photos taken with permission from AEMO

The goal of this presentation was to give us a look into the control room to learn about AEMO’s day to day operations and what it takes to manage the power system.

The NEM control room obligations are:

  • Managing power system security – Control room operators need to ensure secure and reliable power system operation by managing the transmission network, overseeing the balance of demand and supply, coordinating planned network outages, and managing recovery from major incidents.
  • Administering NEM dispatch – This includes managing forecast regional demand and wind/ solar generation in dispatch and pre-dispatch, dispatching generating units, monitoring compliance.

To give us deeper insight in the control room operations, a simulation of a major system incident was displayed and explained. In this simulation, we saw just how quickly an incident can disrupt the network and how important the actions of the control room are in stabilizing the network and preventing widespread network disruption across the NEM.

After these sessions, we were treated to a lunch with some of the team who work onsite at the Norwest facility, before returning to the Sydney CBD by coach. It was a really insightful visit and helped me understand just how big the role AEMO plays in our energy market is and makes me appreciate them even more. Thanks to the AEMO, AIE and YEP teams!