Welcome to SEN’s renewable energy conceptual simulation of Western Australia’s South-West Interconnected System (SWIS). WA’s renewable energy resources could provide many times the amount of fossil-fuelled energy currently used in the state. SEN’s computer simulation models the SWIS and allows you to create, cost and evaluate scenarios for supplying our electricity using a mixture of renewable energy sources.
By placing virtual renewable energy plants around WA, you will be able to determine the optimal locations to access renewable energy sources, minimise grid connection costs and meet the varying demand on the SWIS, while achieving the best efficiency, cost effectiveness, energy security, job creation and carbon reduction for Southern WA.
The interface to the simulation is a little complicated so we have developed a user guide to help you. Scroll down to view the user guide below. (We are currently developing an interactive user guide, which will be available shortly.) Once you have read the user guide, click on the Conceptual Simulation button below to launch the simulation.
Please Note: We recommend that you use Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox or Safari web browser to run the simulation to ensure it operates reasonably quickly.
SEN's Conceptual Simulation: A User Guide
Jump to a section:
- Full Summary
- Export and Import Data
- Grid Statistics
- Power Station Statistics
- Change Parameters
- Manage Variables
The Main Screen
Load Demand Graph
The graph on the right hand side of the simulation, as pictured here, represents the average load demand on the SWIS for each season. The light blue shaded area at the bottom of the graph represents the current renewable energy that contributes to the SWIS. This is made up mostly of wind from the Collgar, Emu Downs and Albany Wind Farms, also identified on the map of Western Australia.
By using the buttons above the graph, you can switch between seasons to see the difference in average load demand through the year, and overall average load demand. Note that as you begin to construct your scenario, the load demand graph will update to reflect the new renewable energy sources inputting into the grid, showing how they might displace fossil-fuel generated electricity.
The meteorological chart in the bottom right-hand corner of the simulation, as pictured here, displays the average solar, wind and wave energy resource profile for each season. When you click on the map of Western Australia on the land area, the average solar, wind and geothermal energy resource for that location is displayed here. Notice how it changes if you click in different places. Likewise, when you click in the ocean the average significant wave height for the area is also displayed here, although we are currently using randomised data for this section. Switch between seasons by using the buttons above the two graphs.
Interactive Map of WA
The interactive map of Western Australia is where you will build your scenario of an energy mix for the SWIS. The white lines represent the main skeleton of the existing electricity grid infrastructure of the SWIS. As you build your scenario, the simulation adds additional infrastructure to connect the new generation plants to the grid. You will also notice the existing wind farms shown as light blue dots, corresponding to the colour of the wind farm node.
The arrows at the bottom of the map allow you to scroll up to northern regions, although the simulation focuses only on the SWIS in WA. You can also use the Zoom + and Zoom - buttons to scale closer and further on the map. If you would like to view the map from a different angle above the horizon, click the up or down arrows. You can also rotate the map to view from the North or other directions.
When you click on the ocean, the typical significant wave height data will display in the meteorological chart in the bottom right-hand corner of the screen. Likewise, when you click on different locations on land you will see the average solar and wind conditions for that area. Underlying the map are the renewable energy resource ‘contours’ which contain this information.
Adding Renewable Power
On the left-hand side of the screen, there are a number of different Renewable Energy types available to build into your scenario. Clicking on one of these energy types will take you to another screen, in which you can identify where in WA you would like to install the energy plant. Please note that it may take a few seconds to load once you have clicked on the energy type, especially if you are using Internet Explorer.
The Energy Subscreens
You will notice the different coloured wind resource contours on the map indicating where in Western Australia the higher wind resource is located. The average wind speed is shown as ‘greater than x metres per second’. As you can imagine, closer to the coast provides higher winds, so placing the new wind farm in the dark blue section will increase its output.
Note that you can change which type of renewable energy you would like to install in your scenario from here by clicking on the appropriate renewable plant node at the bottom left of the screen.
When you click on the map, you will be taken to a new screen in which you can configure your new wind farm.
You now need to determine what size, in mega watts, you want your new wind farm to be. Depending on the value you enter for the size, the simulation will update after a couple of seconds to represent, for example, the number of turbines needed, the capital expenditure, the estimated performance values, the cost of any upgrade or new grid infrastructure required and more. Note that the further away from the existing SWIS grid infrastructure (the white lines), the more the upgrade or new SWIS grid cost will be for your new power plant.
Once you click on the apply button the load demand graph will be updated to demonstrate how your new power plant contributes to meeting the load demand for the SWIS.
When locating a wave generator, you must place it within the accessible part of the ocean in relation to the coast i.e. it’s no use building one in the middle of the Indian Ocean. You also can’t build a wave generator on land, not even at Wave Rock!
The simulation will only allow you to place a Wave Generator in the ocean, in the distance that is feasible for the technology, based on CETO, to work. Areas of suitably high wave resources are indicated along the coastline by a light blue band. Notice that the entire coastline of southwest Australia well endowed with wave energy.
Once you have chosen a location for your new wave generator a new screen will appear requiring you to choose parameters for the size, in megawatts (MW), that you intend to build. The accounting summary and performance estimates will update based on the value you enter for the size.
Other Energy Nodes
The other energy subscreens work in much the same way as Wind and Wave. More specific information on these sections will be posted here shortly.
Clicking the energy storage node brings up the window with a brief description of some of the types of energy storage available and being developed. Each type of energy storage has different capabilities such as speed of response, energy density, cost, lifespan, and other. As with energy types, you can place storages in specific locations to take advantage of geographic features, such as dams for pumped storage. You can also indicate the estimated area the storage will occupy.
At this stage in the development of the simulation, this element is preliminary, but does allow for some estimation of the contribution of energy storage to the new energy system.
The energy storage and grid-stabilisation capabilities of a fleet of electric vehicles (EVs) on charge is significant and offers an excellent synergy between stationary and transport energy. EVs and renewable energy enhance each other’s roles and with the use of smart-grid technology allow variations in energy demand and supply to be better managed by providing control over each. This EV and grid interaction is known as vehicle-to-grid (V2G).
Companies such as Duke Energy in the US are developing pumped-air storage to complement their wind farm energy.
For more information on this, see the Energy Storage section of our website.
Note that this node does not include thermal energy storage as this is included under the solar thermal energy plants node.
Energy Efficiency Node
The cheapest and quickest way we can reduce our energy costs and consumption is to reduce waste by being aware of and making simple behavioural changes, which often do not affect our quality of life. Many savings can be achieved by simply turning off unnecessary appliances, lights, closing/opening doors and windows to heat/cool the house, and many others. Secondly we can install and use higher efficiency electrical appliances, lights, heating and cooling. While some of these may seem more expensive, often the cost of electricity is many times more than the cost of the device, so a small increase in up-front cost can save more over the life of the product.
It is commonly estimated that 20-30% energy savings can be achieved by waste reduction and efficiency gains. The simulation page on energy efficiency is in its infancy and requires further detail, however, it provides a simple method to illustrate how reduced energy demand can help reduce costs and impacts of additional energy generation and infrastructure, and compare this with the initial costs of implementing more efficient devices. There is the additional benefit of reduced greenhouse gas emissions.
Building a Scenario
As you create renewable energy power plants within the simulation, you begin to build your own energy mix scenario for Western Australia. When you have completed adding a renewable energy generator and determining its size, you will return to the home page where the map of WA will have the new generator added, including infrastructure to connect it to the SWIS, and the graph of the load demand on the SWIS will now be populated with the additional renewable energy.
You will also get a running accounting summary that updates with each change you make to the SWIS so you can see what efficiencies you can achieve, how many jobs will be created, the amount of investment that is required and more.
One important consideration is the overall cost of your new energy system, and the ‘levelised’ cost of the electricity. Levelised cost is essentially the sum of the capital (upfront) costs of building the power plant (or system) plus the operating costs over the life of the plant, divided by the total amount of electrical energy produced over its life. Our present-day levelised cost of electricity generation in WA, using mostly coal and gas, is approximately 5 to 9 cents per kWh and rising rapidly to reflect the true cost of generation. However, consumers commonly pay a retail price of about 25 cents per kWh, which includes transmission costs and some profit. It is useful to note that the generation cost is only about 30-40% of the total electricity retail price, so a doubling of generation cost does not double the retail price.
It is also possible to build scenarios for projected demand growth into the future by setting the ‘Years into the future’ and ‘Annual demand growth’ parameters. This can allow future scenarios, such as ‘33% by 2020’, to be created based upon the projected demand growth.
By clicking on the drop-down menu and selecting an option from the list, you can access data from a range of pre-set scenarios we have built into the system. These scenarios have been selected to demonstrate various visions for Western Australia’s energy mix, such as a low estimated levelised cost per kilowatt, a large reduction in carbon emissions, or greater energy efficiency.
There is an option to save your scenario, enabling you to create various different scenarios for comparison. Click the ‘Add to List’ button to save your scenario as the next item in the scenario list. To begin a new scenario, choose ‘Present Day’ from the drop down list.
As described in Manage Variables, there is a rudimentary capability for a scenario to be exported for future reference and later imported (reloaded) into the simulation. SWIS 2029 Scenario 1 2013-02-13.txt and SWIS 2029 Scenario 2 2013-02-13.txt are two such sample scenarios.
In the summary section you can view and evaluate the inputs and outputs of your scenario, including information on the type of investment needed, jobs created, unit costs and more. You can also click on the Compare Scenarios button to compare your scenario to the present day as well as the pre-set scenarios built into the simulation.
The Export Load Demand button will allow you to copy the load profile data in comma separated variable (CSV) format suitable for producing a spreadsheet graph.
Use the Last Season and Next Season buttons to switch the season view for the SWIS load demand graph and the meteorological chart.
Export and Import Data
There is a rudimentary capability for exporting (saving) and importing (restoring) data within the simulation. In all instances the following approach is used.
- You press a button to request export (save) or import (restore) of the desired data (parameters, scenario, grid details, power stations or load data)
- A window with a text input field is presented
- To copy data from the field
- Place the cursor within the field
- Press Ctrl-A (Apple-A for Mac) to select the full contents of the field
- Press Ctrl-C (Apple-C) to copy the full contents
- Ctrl-V (Apple-V) to paste the date into, say, Notepad
- Press Cancel to close the text window
- Save the text file to reuse it later. In some instances (i.e. for spreadsheet input) it may be useful to save it with a filetype of .csv
- To paste data into the field
- Copy the (new) data you want into the clipboard (Ctrl-C or Apple-C)
- Place the cursor within the text field
- Press Ctrl-A (Apple-A) to select the full (existing) contents of the field
- Press Ctrl-V (Apple-V) to paste the (new) data into the field
- Press Apply to update the data in the simulation
The Grid Statistics button takes you to a summary of the transmission lines of the SWIS connecting all power stations, including existing fossil fuel ones.
This enables you to consider a scenario for phasing out fossil fuel power and what renewable energy type and size may be suitable to use existing transmission lines, saving costs.
Using the left and right arrow buttons at the bottom of the table enables you to scroll through the scenarios.
The Export to CSV button will allow you to copy the grid statistics in comma separated variable (CSV) format suitable for spreadsheet input.
Power Station Statistics
The Power Station Statistics button takes you to a summary of the power stations and the accounting summary details for each. This enables more detailed review of the summary of each scenario, providing a station by station summary.
Using the left and right arrow buttons at the bottom of the table enables you to scroll through the scenarios. Each renewable energy power station, including the existing Wind stations, are coloured in the colour that corresponds with that energy node.
The Export to CSV button will allow you to copy the power station statistics in comma separated variable (CSV) format suitable for spreadsheet input.
This conceptual simulation has been built on data that was the best available to us at the time. To allow currency and flexibility, should new or differing information be available, you are able to change the parameters that feed into the modelling used in the calculations.
By simply changing the available fields, you can update the parameter to whatever you think it should be. Clicking Apply will take you back to the simulation home page, with the Summary accounting updated calculating with the new information.
If you wish to return to the pre-set parameters, you can click Default on each page as applicable. Each of the parameter pages — General, Grid, Capital Costs etc. — has a References button that identifies the source of the data used for the modelling. In our research objective we aim to maintain current information and knowledge on latest technical, economic and regulatory areas to ensure comprehensive data for education, modelling and promotion.
As described in Manage Variables, there is a rudimentary capability for all parameters to be exported for future reference and later imported (reloaded) into the simulation. SIM params v1.155.xls can help with adjusting parameters outside of the simulation.
It is also possible to project demand growth into the future by setting the ‘Years into the future’ (yif or year) parameter. This will compound the load demand curve by ‘Annual demand growth’ (adg) for that number of years. This can allow future scenarios, such as ‘33% by 2020’, to be created based upon the projected demand growth. These two parameters can be passed as part of the URL used to load the simulation. To pass these parameters you follow the URL with a question mark and the desired parameter value; multiple parameters are separated by ampersands. For example, http://sen.asn.au/sim/sen1.157.htm?year=2029&adg=2.1 will invoke the simulation with demand curves for 2029 based upon annual demand growth of 2.1%.
The Manage Variables button enables you to either export or import all simulation parameters, a scenario, or export a KML version of a scenario (see Export Google Earth KML File).
- To import (restore) parameters press the Import/Export all parameters button and follow the guidelines above
- To export (save) a scenario select the scenario from the list and press the Import/Export selected scenario button. To import (restore) a scenario you just press the Import/Export selected scenario button. Then follow the guidelines above
- To export (save) a scenario in KML format select the scenario from the list, choose the desired KML options and press the Export selected scenario as KML button. The options are:
- Produce a KML file with land use for power stations either as squares or circles
- Include an indication of total land use for each power source
- Hide Station placemark names. WIth this option placemark names will normaly not show on the map but will be revealed when you move over a station location
Then follow the guidelines above
Export Google Earth KML File
KML is a file format used to display geographic data in an Earth browser such as Google Earth. The KML files created by the simulation (see Manage Variables) have three or four ‘folders’, as follows:
- Grid. This will show the major transmission lines of the grid. There are subfolders for existing and new lines. Existing lines will be in Blue and new lines will be in orange (HVAC) or pink (HVDC). Due to limitations with this alpha version of the simulation the links may not be 100% accurate
- Station Locations. This will show the locations of the power stations, including icons to visually show the type of generation. There are subfolders for existing and new stations. Clicking on a station will summarise the size of the station (in MW) and the estimated cost for a new station
- Land Use. This will present squares or circles approximating the land required for each power station (you may need to zoom in). In many cases, e.g. wind and geothermal, the land area may be available for other uses
- Total Land Use. If you’ve chosen to show an indication of total land use for each power source there will be an additional folder for Total Land Use. These areas wil be located to the north east of SWIS grid (Lake Barlee). There are two subfolders, Power Type and Land Use, to allow the labels to be hidden
If you have information you would be happy to provide to SEN, please Contact Us.
We describe the simulation as conceptual at this stage, because it currently uses average data rather than real-time or historical data and it needs to be subjected to independent verification.
In future, we look forward to enhancing the simulation so that the energy output from the renewable technologies is calculated from real-time and/or historical meteorological data for each location. These energy supplies will be integrated into the SWIS grid and compared against the actual grid demand at the same time. This will provide a vision as to what WA’s renewable energy future could be, given suitable regulatory and other conditions.
Feedback and questions
Feedback and questions are welcome via our contact page