Climate Projections for the Electricity Sector

The Australian Government is providing $6.1 million over three years to improve climate and extreme weather information for the electricity sector.

The Electricity Sector Climate Information (ESCI) project is designed to improve the reliability and resilience of the National Electricity Market to the risks from climate change and extreme weather.

The project is co-designing tailored climate change data and information to ensure it is usable by the people who need it, to support improved long-term climate risk planning for electricity infrastructure.

The work is funded through the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources and is being undertaken by CSIRO and the Bureau of Meteorology in collaboration with the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO).

This page will be updated regularly as the work progresses.

ESCI Project Fact Sheet (183.1 KB)

Interview with Ben Jones (AEMO)

Ben Jones of AEMO explains to Nicolas Rivers why AEMO is interested in understanding and communicating climate risks  for the electricity sector, and their involvement in the ESCI project.

Nicolas Rivers · Ben Jones – AEMO

Electricity Sector Vulnerabilities

The most important climate hazards for the electricity system were identified as (in order of priority): increasing temperature, bushfires, wind, precipitation/dam inflows, and coastal inundation. The ESCI project is addressing the top four, which are further described below:

Increasing temperature: Increasing average and maximum temperatures, and the duration and magnitude of heatwaves reduce generator and network capacity and increase failure rates or maintenance/replacement costs. Extreme temperatures are also relevant to asset design specifications.

Bushfires: Increasing frequency of dangerous fire weather poses a threat to most assets, with a particularly high operational risk to transmission lines due to smoke. It also an important consideration in transmission line route selection and design.

Wind: Wind generation is sensitive to any reduction in average wind-speed as well as to an increase in the frequency and magnitude of destructive gusts. Thus, it affects wind generation output, plant profitability and design specifications. High winds also reduce the capacity and threaten the integrity of transmission lines; making it an important consideration for network capacity assessments, design specifications and analysis of failure rates.

Precipitation/Dam inflows: The changing climate has caused a reduction in average rainfall in much of the National Electricity Market (NEM) area. At the same time, extreme rainfall events and flooding have increased. Reduces water available for hydro generation. Increases requirement for desalination loads.   Flood events require consideration for asset design specifications and expected failure rates.

Coastal Inundation (not considered by the ESCI project): Increasing sea levels may impact on some low-lying generation, distribution and transmission assets.

Outputs

By 30 June 2021, the project will produce:

  1. Standardised climate risk analysis methodology
  2. Climate risk assessment framework
  3. Extreme weather event scenarios
  4. Guidance material for target audiences
  5. Weather / climate data on CCiA web portal
  6. Communication products for target audiences
  7. Case studies (see below)
  8. Capacity development, training and advice

Knowledge Resources

A range of knowledge resources are being produced by the ESCI team and will be made available here as they are developed.

Access ESCI Datasets and Scientific Publications

ESCI Climate Science Overview (2.9 MB)

Case Studies

The case studies will be part of the guidance material and are primarily intended to demonstrate how to use two outputs of the project: the standardised methodology for climate projections and the risk assessment framework. The case studies assess the impact of a changing climate on the electricity system by analysing the relationship between the climate variable and system performance.

The project is focusing on 3 kinds of risk: 1. Resilience/operating risk, 2. Reliability risk, 3. Investment risk. Five case studies have been proposed, based on the identified vulnerabilities, to illustrate how to use the climate information to assess the materiality of the physical risk.

Heat Case Study: This case study analyses the investment risk for renewable energy proponents and the reliability risk for the system as increasing extreme temperatures impact wind and solar farm output. You can obtain a copy of the working draft using the link below.

Current draft (May 2020) of the Heat Case Study (1.2 MB)

Bushfire Case Study (in progress): This case study assesses how the frequency and magnitude of bushfires near major transmission lines is likely to change, and how this can inform investment decisions to improve the reliability and resilience of the electricity system.

Wind Case Study (proposed): Wind generation is sensitive to changes in average windspeed as well as changes to the intensity and frequency of destructive wind gusts. These affect wind generation output, plant profitability and design specifications. High wind speeds reduce the capacity and threaten the integrity of transmission lines. The wind climate is also important for assessing network capacity, informing design specifications and failure rates.

Extreme Event Case Study: This case study describes the system risk from a heat wave/high wind event identified in the climate projections. It includes impacts on the electricity system and options to increase the resilience of the National Electricity Market – some of which may occur outside the electricity system.

Extreme Events: ESCI Weather and Climate Risk Scenario Workshop 1 - May 2019 (2.4 MB)

Hydrological Case Study (proposed - due to commence in Nov/Dec 2020): Reduced rainfall and increasing rainfall variability will have an impact on the availability of hydro-power. The case study will explore the investment risk for hydro-power operators, and the system reliability impact of changes in precipitation.

Hydrology: ESCI Weather and Climate Risk Scenario Workshop 2 - July 2019 (1.8 MB)

ESCI Webinar Series

The ESCI Webinar series commenced in May 2020. All webinars will be recorded and made available here.

Never miss an ESCI Webinar ... Subscribe to the ESCI Webinar Series mailing list!

Webinar Schedule

We aim to deliver a webinar every month.

Date

Title/Topic

Presenter

Link to register/recording

28th May 2020

"Modelling the Future Climate"

John Clarke (CSIRO)

Recording (YouTube).

18th June 2020

"Heat Impacts on Variable Renewable Generators"

Ben Jones (AEMO) & Judith Landsberg (BoM)

Recording (YouTube).

16th July 2020

"The influence of climate change on the Australian bushfire season"

Karl Braganza (BoM)

Recording (YouTube)

25th August 2020

"Scenario analysis, confidence and uncertainty"

Kevin Hennessy (CSIRO) & Ben Jones (AEMO)

Recording (YouTube)

24th September 2020

"Scenarios, pathways, projections and stress tests – some key concepts of future climate analysis"

Michael Grose (CSIRO)

Recording (YouTube)

October 2020 (TBC)

"Bushfire Case Study"

TBA

Not yet available.

November 2020 (TBC)

"Extreme events and electricity system resilience (return times, and uncertainty)" (TBC)

TBA

Not yet available.

December 2020 (TBC)

"Standard methodology" (TBC)

TBA

Not yet available.

January 2021 (TBC)

"Wind risk and a wind case study" (TBC)

TBA

Not yet available.

February 2021 (TBC)

"ESCI toolkit and using climate information" (TBC)

TBA

Not yet available.

March 2021 (TBC)

"Update on the ESCI project" (TBC)

TBA

Not yet available.

For more information

energysecurity@industry.gov.au

Page updated: 1st October 2020