Electricity Statement of Opportunity

The expectation of the Electricity Statement of Opportunities (ESOO) expected by the end of August 2023 is one with a little better news in the short term but overall, the expectation of shortness will remain in NSW and SA.

The 2024 contracts have taken a slight breath of relief after the previously uncertain future of the Tallawarra B gas station were thrown a lifeline, and expectations are the plant will come online in mid to late 2024 following its previous contractors collapse (Clough).

This plant will assist with the shortfall left by Liddell and will also have the ability to partially run on Hydrogen which will secure its future in a net-zero grid. Kurri-Kurri, the 750MW gas plant near Newcastle, owned by Snowy Hydro, which was originally due online this year is now unlikely to be commissioned before December 2024, and could potentially still be pushed further. It is worth noting neither of these are currently within dispatch modelling (PASA).

We are expecting from 2025 the ESOO to focus on the closure of Eraring (~25% of the NSW grid, 2,880MW) which will have all 4 units closed by late August 2025, this will not be replaced on the system and therefore the expectation is these units will remain online (or at least half of them in Edge’s view). The question is at what cost? With Eraring already being out of coal contracts and having significant Ash dam storage issues. The cost associated with keeping the station running could significantly increase the merit order bids. In this case, as dispatch is likely required, this could increase spot prices which would have an impact across the NEM.

Current RRO T-3 triggers are in place for SA Jan and Feb 2024 and Jan – March 2025 and 2026 as well as in NSW Dec 2025 – Feb 2026. This is giving strength to these contracts.

The Snowy 2.0 delay announced to the market has had a slight uptick in the later curve contracts but overall, the full effect of this is not yet known, as per the above, a lot will be reliant on the continuation of the traditional thermal generation until enough storage will be available to manage a renewable grid. This is obviously heavily reliant on the transmission being available for this also via the re-wiring the nation project and possible Transmission Access Reforms as discussed last week.

To try and bring forward generation, this year’s budget discussed the introduction of a capacity mechanism, now this has been an idea the ESB has been floating around since 2021 if not before and has gained little support outside of the large coal generators.

It is worth noting the government announced scheme for South Australia and Victoria, is not the Energy Security Board’s (ESBs) design as it is to be based on non-fossil fuel generation, however if this will be decided state by state and with QLD and NSW yet to announce their schemes, they may roll out the fossil fuel capacity bids in later years but allow them in the short term. Victoria and South Australia have declared that they will be the first two states to implement these schemes with auctions expected by the end of 2023. The South Australian market is likely to be dominated in these auctions by the big batteries under construction, Torrens Island, Tailem Bend and Blyth which will bid against the existing assets at Hornsdale, Lake Bonney and Dalrymple.  The Victoria auction is likely to assist the state in meeting its ambition to close the last 3 brown coal stations by 2035 and have a grid consisting of 95% renewables, with a lot of these projects as per Queensland’s target either being owned by or providing offtake to the new government owned “state energy corporation.”

NSW is expected to do this within its Electricity Infrastructure roadmap, but this is yet to be confirmed and with Queensland announcing this week that half of the new renewable capacity within Queensland must be government owned, it is likely that any capacity scheme will heavily feature projects which are either owned by one of the GOC’s or provide the offtake to them under a PPA, as per the Budget announcement of the support for the Borumba Pumped Hydro project.

Overall investment is coming but not in time for the ESOO and the market reaction to this legislation will be seen fully in September.


Future of Contract Markets and the Baseload Swap

It is no surprise, when I say the National Electricity Market (NEM) is going through a vast transition and transformation, with an ever-increasing penetration of renewable generation, in the form of both utility scale renewable generation and household installations.

The world as we know is also battling the global pandemic that is Coronavirus. This has had a significant impact on people and their livelihoods and health.  along with a significant impact on energy markets around the globe. To top it all off, energy markets have had to endure a supply price war recently, between OPEC’s unelected leader, Saudi Arabia and non-OPEC oil producer, Russia.

With a rapidly evolving and ever-changing energy landscape, what should our contract markets look like? Are the current products fit for purpose or offer value in an energy landscape like the NEM? As a generator, the days of capturing value and running flat out all hours of the day, are indeed starting to dwindle, with quick, nimble, and easily dispatchable fast-start generation likely to excel in the near to longer-term landscape. Take South Australia (SA) as a good example, as to the success of fast-start plant. On the 04/04/2020 at 12:00pm, the 5 minute spot price was down at -$1,000/MWh, which is where it stayed the majority of the morning, due to low demand and strong generation, trying to send megawatts into Victoria (VIC), maxing out the interconnector. Shortly after that, at 12:20pm, prices spiked to above $300/MWh for the next 30 to 40 minutes or so, with fast-start gas generation swooping in and capturing this short-term high price period.

If this type of generation is the key to success in this new look NEM that we operate in, where fast-start, short burst generation is taking its place to complement the intermittent renewable generation in wind and solar, utility or household, that continues to penetrate the market, why are our contract markets continuing to predominantly offer baseload swaps?

A baseload swap is a contract for energy, say 5 MW for $70/MWh, for a defined period, for a month, a quarter, a calendar, or financial year. The way a swap works is the $60/MWh becomes the strike price in which the seller of the swap pays the floating price (the price of the underlying wholesale product which is electricity in this instance) and the buyer pays the fixed $70/MWh.

Say you have contracted a baseload swap for 5 MW for the entire calendar year of 2020, this would mean that for every half hour (with electricity settling every half hour as per the underlying wholesale market settlement regime in the NEM), of the entire 2020 calendar year, the buyer will pay the seller $70/MWh, and the seller will pay the buyer the underlying wholesale or spot price. For example, say this morning the wholesale or spot price for electricity for the half hour ending period of 9:30am was $40/MWh; this would result in the buyer paying the seller $70/MWh for 5 MW, whilst the seller would pay the buyer $40/MWh for 5 MW, resulting in a $30/MWh contract for difference (CFD) payment going from the buyer to the seller.

However, think about this, the baseload swap is exactly that, baseload. So, a contract for calendar year 2020 means you are locked into that same position (unless you sell out of the position) 24 hrs, 365 days.

So, do baseload contracts offer appropriate value anymore, in a market which are short-lived upward volatility and recently longer periods of downward volatility?

Mid last month, Snowy Hydro struck a contract defined as a ‘super-peak’ swap, which will cover what has been defined as the “super peak” periods of the day, generally morning and evening peak usage when solar is ramping up or down. The trade was brokered through an over-the-counter (OTC) trading hub operated by Renewable Energy Hub, and it is believed, similar deals will be a gateway to funding and bringing into the market technology such as batteries and demand-response into the energy markets.

Snowy Hydro has been procuring renewable PPA’s for a while, through wind and solar generation, including the 90 MW it procured from the Sebastopol Solar Farm in NSW. They are looking to use the renewable generation and back it with their significant hydro fleet, to sell a new range of products to its customers.

With wholesale energy prices reducing significantly since September 2019, and the overabundance of generation in states such as QLD and SA, and with the rapid introduction of new technology, it is likely a significant number of customers will choose to take more wholesale/spot price exposure, rather than contracting ahead of time.,

This fuels the argument for the need to have more flexible and robust products, ones that are for particular trading intervals, perhaps in the day, day-ahead products, week-ahead products, or perhaps more products like Snowy’s ‘super peak’ product?

If you have any questions regarding this article or the electricity market in general, call Edge on 07 3905 9220 or 1800 334 336.