icon-inquiry Inquiry into the licensing arrangements for generators in South Australia

  • Project Released: 2 Dec 2016
  • Project Closes: Sep 2017
  • Contact: Con Carellas


In June 2016, the Commission commenced an Inquiry into technical licence conditions for inverter-connected electricity generators. The purpose of this Inquiry is to determine whether or not there should be any changes to the technical licensing requirements for electricity generators in South Australia. Since 2005, the Commission has been imposing additional conditions in licences for grid-scale, inverter-connected wind-powered generation. The licence conditions apply in the absence of national rules which effectively integrate new generation technologies and are intended as a transitional arrangement until such time as adequate national rules come into effect.

The Commission is inquiring into:

  • whether the current licence conditions for the grid connection of wind-powered electricity generators should be removed, retained or varied, and

  • whether any additional or amended technical requirements should be imposed on other grid-scale inverter-connected electricity generators (such as solar generation) or other generation technologies and sources (including conventional synchronous generation).


Current status is Submissions

  • Initiate
  • Submissions
  • Further info
  • Draft
  • Submissions
  • Final


On 1 May 2017, the Commission released a Draft Report as part of its Inquiry into the licensing arrangements for generators in South Australia.

The Commission invited stakeholders to express their views on the matters raised in the Draft Report (including the Final Advice received from the Australian Energy Market Operator). As part of its consultation, the Commission also held a workshop for stakeholders and other interested participants.

Consultation on the Draft Report closed on 9 June 2017 and 15 submissions were received.  The Commission would like to thank all stakeholders and interested participants for their contributions.

The Commission will consider all submissions received in the preparation of its Final Report — to be delivered to the Treasurer early in August 2017.


The Commission publishes submissions as an information source only. It does not guarantee or warrant the accuracy, completeness or currency of any information contained in submissions. Any person accessing or relying on a submission published below is responsible for assessing and verifying the information contained within it.

The Commission disclaims all responsibility and liability (including, without limitation, liability in negligence) for all expenses, losses, damages, costs or other injury incurred by any person accessing or relying on a submission published below as a result of the information contained in that submission being inaccurate or incomplete in any way.


The Commission is consulting on its Draft Report for the Inquiry into the licensing arrangements for generators in South Australia. PDF-Icon 

The Commission is proposing changes to licence conditions applying to electricity generators in South Australia. The proposals are based on the technical advice provided by the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) and the Commission will consult on these proposals before making a final decision in July 2017.

The Commission has consulted widely in developing the Draft Report and proposes to consult widely on the Draft Report, AEMO's proposalsPDF-Icon  and in its process of finalising this Inquiry.

Written submissions on the Draft Report are invited from interested parties, and should be provided by Friday 9 June 2017.

The proposed technical recommendations for electricity generators are aimed at promoting the resilience and security of the South Australian power system. AEMO has proposed to the Commission that careful consideration must be given to ensuring a secure, resilient, and reliable power system for the State in the context of a greater, and variable, proportion of non-synchronous generation. Among other things, AEMO’s recommendations seek to ensure that generators are better able to ride through power system disturbances and, with active power controls, will have the ability to both better control their energy output during a dispatch period as well as being able to assist with the control of voltage and frequency if required.  AEMO has produced an infographic that summaries the key recommendations.PDF-Icon   More specifically, the detail of AEMO’s recommendations encompass the following matters:

  • static and dynamic reactive power requirements
  • voltage control capability
  • performance during, and subsequent to, contingency events
  • active power control facilities
  • the ability to assist with system restart 
  • the provision of simulation models, and
  • regular updates to the Commission’s framework.

AEMO has not recommended that generator licence conditions include the requirement to provide electrical inertia or system strength (or fast frequency response). AEMO considers that prescriptive requirements on new or existing South Australian plant, alone, would be inefficient and, instead, is considering alternative means to procuring these services which are being considered as part of other concurrent broader technical reviews.

AEMO’s final advice is consistent with the principles contained in its interim advice as set out below.

Inquiry consultation - Workshop

On 16 May 2017, the Commission held a workshop in Adelaide as part of its Inquiry into the licensing arrangements for generators in South Australia.  The workshop provided stakeholders and interested participants with the opportunity to discuss the Commission's Draft Report and AEMO's recommendations to the Commission on the technical standards to apply to generators connecting to the South Australian power system.

In addition, the Commission invites written submissions from all stakeholders and other interested parties on the matters covered in this Draft Report, AEMO's advice, and the discussions arising from the stakeholder workshop.  Stakeholders now have the opportunity to provide any further information, or raise matters, or provide any research and analysis to assist and inform the Commission's decision-making processes.

The consultation closed on Friday, 9 June 2017.

Interim advice

Electricity generation licence conditions Inquiry – interim AEMO advice

The Commission is conducting an Inquiry into the additional technical licence conditions that it has applied to wind and other inverter-connected generation plant in South Australia since 2004. The Inquiry is looking to determine whether or not the conditions continue to be required and, if so, what form they should take given the power system, technological and market changes which have occurred since the conditions were last reviewed by the Commission in 2010.
The licence conditions apply in the absence of national rules which effectively integrate new generation technologies and are intended as a transitional arrangement until such time as national or other rules come into effect.
The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) is providing technical advice to the Commission as a part of the Inquiry. AEMO’s draft advice is expected to be published in April; however, to provide direction to stakeholders, AEMO has prepared interim advice on generator licence conditions for new generationPDF-Icon
AEMO’s interim advice is that the high proportion of non-synchronous intermittent generation in South Australia justifies having additional or tighter technical standards than those that currently apply under the National Electricity Rules. AEMO therefore recommends that, effective immediately, all new generation licences be subject to additional conditions, in order to give regard to the technical changes affecting the South Australian power system. 
In addition to the Commission’s existing set of licence conditions for new generators, AEMO is currently considering several additional and enhanced licence conditions including:

1.      Frequency control capabilities, including:

a. mandatory provision of frequency control capability for new generators connecting in South Australia (regulation and contingency services) throughout the operational frequency tolerance band and the extreme frequency excursion tolerance limit; and
b. the ability to receive and respond to automatic generation control (AGC) based on four second signals.

2.    Ramp rate controls, including:

a. the capability to limit the rate of change of active power within each dispatch interval.

3.     Voltage and frequency disturbance ride-through capabilities, including:

  • a requirement to meet both the National Electricity Market (NEM) automatic standard (a high rate of change of frequency for a short period) and minimum standard (a lower rate of change of frequency for a longer period) with regard to the rate of change of frequency the generator must be able to withstand.

a. obligations for generators to ride through a specified total duration of voltage disturbances, eg one to two seconds, within specified periods, eg five minutes, regardless of each individual disturbance type or duration;
b. the ability to recover active power output after the fault clearance as fast as possible without compromising voltage recovery
c. a requirement to supply or absorb fast acting reactive power during, and after the disturbance (if necessary), depending on whether the disturbance causes low voltages or high voltages; and
d. a requirement for enhanced high voltage ride-through capability beyond that specified in NER Figure S5.1a.1 to mitigate the risk of system collapse following loss of synchronous connection between South Australia and the rest of the NEM.

4.     Other capabilities, including:

  • the ability to assist in system restoration following a black system event.

The Commission has considered the interim advice and will require these additional technical conditions for any new generation licence application (for any form of generation) until such time as AEMO’s final advice is received and the Inquiry is completed.  
Potential new generation licence applicants are asked to contact the Commission to discuss licensing requirements and processes.


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