The arrival of a massive piece of electrical infrastructure would not normally be an event worthy of much note. But the 175 tonne machine making the road trip to Port Augusta on behalf of South Australia’s main transmission network owner ElectraNet marks another important step in the state’s and the nation’s clean energy transition. The machine delivered this weekend is the first of four spinning machines – known as synchronous condensers – that provide system strength and other important grid services. But their arrival will also hasten the exit of most gas generators in the state as the local grid surges towards the Liberal government’s target of net 100 per cent renewables by 2030. Two synchronous condensers, or syncons, will be installed near the Davenport sub-station near Port Augusta, and two others will be installed near Robertstown, where a major new transmission line is planned to link South Australia’s renewables-dominated grid with NSW. The syncons are considered essential because they will help solve a “system strength” shortfall declared by the Australian Energy Market Operator in 2017. The immediate impact will be on gas generators, which AEMO will no longer have to direct online when there are high levels of […]

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