AEMO - Managing Electric & Gas Systems Across Australia
The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) manages electricity and gas systems across Australia, helping to ensure Australians have access to affordable, secure, and reliable energy. It is a member-based, not-for-profit organisation. AEMO acts as the market system operator and system planner for the National Electricity Market (NEM) and the Western Australia Wholesale Electricity Market (WEM). It also operates retail and wholesale gas markets across south-eastern Australia and Victoria’s gas pipeline grid. AEMO has four priorities which guide their decision making – operating today’s systems and markets, navigating the energy future, engaging stakeholders, and evolving the way they work.
The Limits of a Legacy IT Ecosystem
Jerôme Declerck is the group manager of Enterprise Application Services at AEMO. When he joined the organisation, AEMO had a technology ecosystem that was primarily server based. Although the servers were good, they were still on-premise servers living under people’s desks.
To remain ahead of Australia’s energy priorities, the time had come for AEMO to make a change to its ecosystem. The amount of data the organization needed to process was increasing, models were becoming more complex, and the number of scenarios which needed to be run was growing. In addition, this all needed to be done faster than ever, with a higher quality outcome. The team could no longer afford to have issues come up that would stop them mid-run.
From a business perspective, AEMO had reached the limit of its technology stack and ecosystem. The servers had reached the point of max capacity. From an IT perspective, AEMO had reached a point of diminishing returns for continuing to grow the existing ecosystem. Both the business (forecasting) and IT departments realised they were now in need of an automatic, scalable solution to meet the future.
System Uplift in Preparation for a Changing Grid
In 2018, AEMO presented a technology strategy to the board, based on the premise that the systems and applications that had been built were about to pass them by. Declerck and his team felt the need to uplift their systems in support of what they could see coming – the need for more and more data, the ability to run more and more scenarios, and the need to meet a changing grid.
The board accepted this need, and a joint IT and Business sponsored strategy was developed to uplift AEMO’s forecasting technology. Once the need had been identified and approved, the teams at AEMO began exploring how to turn their strategy into a reality. As you might imagine with such a large organisation, AEMO has a disciplined investment governance system, and as part of this, the team performed due diligence exploring their options and solutions.
Declerck and the teams at AEMO began working closely with Energy Exemplar to explore what integrating with the PLEXOS Cloud environment would look like. The two teams collaborated to come up with accurate numbers to feed into the investment case, and ultimately, AEMO decided to go forward integrating with PLEXOS Cloud as a part of its future technology strategy.
Staggering Speed Improvements Resulting in a Clear Business Benefit
Integrating with PLEXOS Cloud led to some staggering improvements in efficiency and speed for AEMO. Running the central scenario for the Integrated System Plan modelling decreased from 22 hours to 5 hours – a 77% decrease in time to delivery. The step change scenario run time decreased from 58 hours to 4 hours – a 93% decrease in time to delivery. The ESOO modelling of a constrained scenario reduced in run time from 39 hours to 17 hours – a 56% decrease in time to delivery.
The implementation of PLEXOS Cloud was considered a very successful project, resulting in a clear business benefit. The project uplifted the legacy use of a PLEXOS technology stack to a cloud-native, Energy Exemplar hosted SaaS solution, providing a fully integrated solution with AEMO environments, delivered improved performance in line with agreed benchmarks, and increased stability over the existing platform.
By implementing PLEXOS Cloud, AEMO has better prepared itself to meet Australia’s future energy needs. With the implementation of PLEXOS Cloud, AEMO now has entirely new capabilities. In the new integrated, Cloud environment, AEMO can perform improved hydrogen modelling, and has increased performance. The application written and hosted by the forecasting team has become digital and automated. As Declerck notes, the “Success of this, and the way we got there, has unlocked future opportunities which are now far easier for us to take on.” With PLEXOS Cloud as its chosen solution, AEMO is armed to run more scenarios faster, allowing the team to make better decisions so that the organisation can prepare to meet an evolving energy future.
About How AEMO is Leveraging PLEXOS & PLEXOS Cloud