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Authority Project To Explore Long-term Resilience And Security Of Electricity Supply

The Electricity Authority has launched a project looking at how to ensure the electricity system remains secure and resilient as it evolves over the coming decades. This work supports New Zealand’s commitment to achieving net zero emissions by 2050, and the Government’s aspiration to achieve 100% renewable electricity by 2030.

"The Climate Change Commission’s final advice calls for large increases in electrification, including in transport and process heat," says James Tipping, the Authority’s Chief Strategy Officer. "A goal of 100% renewable electricity generation represents a material increase in renewables, such as wind and solar generation, over current levels. This presents new challenges to the operation of and investment in the electricity system, and to maintaining a secure, reliable and resilient electricity supply."

Electricity systems worldwide, and in New Zealand, have been designed on the assumption that a material proportion of generation is fuelled by fossil fuels. Supporting services to keep the power system stable are typically provided by a range of long-established technologies. "Moving towards 100% renewables in New Zealand, and the uptake of new technology, present opportunities for other technologies to provide the system services that have been supplied predominantly by hydro generation and supported by fossil fuels, particularly when insufficient hydro is available," says James Tipping.

"The electricity market’s design must support investment in and operation of the most appropriate technology for providing these services, while ensuring security and resilience of supply."

The Authority has commissioned advice from Transpower as the system operator to identify how the national power system might evolve, and what changes may be needed to the services that support electricity system stability. This work will take place in three phases. The system operator will deliver a report on future security and resilience challenges and opportunities based on current understanding by the end of 2021, and, by 31 March 2022, a prioritised plan for monitoring and addressing these challenges and opportunities. The final phase will be the multi-year delivery of a programme of studies and solutions to address the challenges and opportunities identified.

This project forms part of the Authority’s response to the Government’s Electricity Price Review, in particular recommendation G2, to examine the security and resilience of electricity supply. The project forms part of a range of work underway by the Authority to address the transition to a low-emissions energy system, including a complementary project by the Market Development Advisory Group, announced last week, examining wholesale market operation and investment under 100% renewables.

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