AEMO halves output from five solar farms

The Australian Energy Market Operator has cited issues of “system strength,” after slashing in half the allowable output from five solar farms in Victoria and NSW.

The solar farms – Broken Hill in NSW, and Karadoc, Wemen, Bannerton and Gannawarra in north west Victoria – were limited to half of their nominated capacity from 12pm on Friday, in the latest of a series of blows to the large-scale solar industry.

In a statement issued to stakeholders late Thursday, AEMO said it was working closely with a “number of solar farms” and network service providers to manage identified voltage fluctuations in north-west Victoria and NSW.

“Close analysis and management of this issue is required to ensure power system security across the associated parts of the Victorian and NSW 220kV electricity network,” it said.

The issue has reportedly been raised over the past couple of weeks, but there was some concern that the constraint had been imposed on projects in operation for more than a year – in the case of the Broken Hill solar farm, four years.

Blame for the situation has been divided between AEMO, the solar farm developers, and antiquated market rules and regulations.

“The only way to solve this it is to have the whole network data available to the applications,” said one industry participant. “But the plant owners only get access to a theoretical model of the network, not a dynamic one”.

Others pointed to the general lack of planning and evolution from the energy industry’s policy makers and institutions, caught with their guard down over the pace of technology.