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Wind farm near Jamestown approved with tough licensing conditions

The construction of a 100-megawatt wind farm near Jamestown has been approved, but with the toughest licensing conditions in the country.

The Hornsdale Wind Farm 2 will be the first to have frequency control technology and will work with the national operator on a trial which is hoped will provide increased grid stability.

If the trial is successful, such technology would likely became a licence condition on all new wind farms in South Australia.

Essential Services Commission of SA chief executive Adam Wilson said it was hoped the new conditions would give the state – and the nation – a “more robust” power system.

He said the commission was in the process of reviewing licensing conditions for all new forms of generation but was taking advice from the Australian Energy Market Operator on additional requirements.

“Given the changes in the market in recent years, including the withdrawal of generators (such as Port Augusta’s Northern power station), … these sorts of conditions would help SA work through those extreme events,” he said.

“AEMO are very confident this will work but it hasn’t been tested out, so this is about making sure and then considering whether they recommend it become compulsory.”

Mr Wilson said these conditions would be stricter than any others and that other states may consider introducing them as well.

Federal Department of the Environment and Energy deputy secretary Rob Heferen told Estimates hearings in Parliament that the Council of Australian Governments Energy Council asked for such a project to be “pushed forward” at a meeting in December.

The Department’s electricity branch assistant secretary James O’Toole said it was possible for wind farms to provide frequency control, which is crucial to maintaining system stability in the event of a crisis.

“Provided they have the right electronics in place, which for the most part in Australia is not currently the case,” he said.

“ARENA (Australian Renewable Energy Agency) is engaged in trialling a hundred-megawatt wind plant project now in South Australia – I think it is going to commence in June – to test whether they are capable of providing those frequency services.”

Energy Minister Tom Koutsantonis said the State Government supported these licensing reforms.

“Renewables are the future and regulators need to ensure that the rules that govern the market keep pace with changes in the way electricity is generated,” he said.

“These new licence conditions will increase the contribution of this project to the security of the State’s electricity supply.”

AEMO on Monday issued two notices to the market advising of low-level concerns with the state’s energy supply over the coming three days.

Some work on transmission lines in Victoria leaves SA at greater risk of blackout if there was an unexpected loss of generation while later in the week, AEMO has predicted a slight shortfall in backup reserves.