Energy market suspension set to be lifted

The energy market operator will end suspension of the national energy market on Friday afternoon.
The energy market operator will end suspension of the national energy market on Friday afternoon.

An unprecedented suspension of the wholesale electricity market will be lifted on Friday afternoon, the market operator says.

The Australian Energy Market Operator said it was possible to return to regular operation of the national electricity market, with the intervention to end at 2pm AEST.

"We are currently seeing more normal electricity bidding and dispatching through AEMO's automated resources, along with reduced electricity shortfalls and fewer manual interventions needed by AEMO," the operator said in a statement.

AEMO announced the suspension last week after a series of events - including coal-fired power station shutdowns, a cold snap across the east coast and spiking gas prices - made it impossible to continue operating the spot market while keeping the lights on for consumers and businesses.

The operator said it expected conditions to remain "dynamic in the short term" once the suspension was lifted.

The government took every action available to address the considerable challenges in the last few weeks, Energy Minister Chris Bowen said.

"We are aware of the long term challenges and the need to get more renewables and storages into the system," he told reporters in Sydney.

"That work will continue and in the meantime we are managing, very vigilantly, a short term crisis."

Earlier, Opposition Leader Peter Dutton said the onus fell on the energy minister to improve reliability, noting power prices decreased during the coalition's tenure in government but rose when Labor was last in power.

"Chris Bowen now has created this situation where you've got uncertainty about supply. Pensioners have been told over winter to prepare for blackouts or hospitals being told to not keep all of their electricity running," he said.

"That's a dire situation and I just don't think Chris Bowen has a handle on it."

While international circumstances such as the war in Ukraine sent shockwaves through global energy markets, Labor has laid part of the blame of the current energy shortfall at the feet of the coalition, saying a decade of underinvestment in renewables has led to failures in the grid.

"(The opposition) can be taken seriously as a credible, alternative government or they can be a laughing stock," Mr Bowen said.

"They appear to be taking the latter approach by somehow claiming that the last 10 years of denial and delay don't count."

Mr Bowen on Friday announced $45 million of Australian Renewable Energy Agency funding for the Australian Centre for Advanced Photovoltaics to extend its cutting-edge research to 2030.

As well, Infrastructure Australia revealed it had assessed a $35 billion solar power export venture backed by billionaires Mike Cannon-Brookes and Andrew Forrest as "investment-ready".

Sun Cable's Australia-Asia Powerlink scheme will be the largest solar farm, largest battery and longest subsea electricity cable ever developed globally - delivering power from the Northern Territory to Singapore, as well as powering Darwin.

Construction is indicated to start in 2024, with the Darwin offtake completed by 2026 and the Singapore link by 2029.

Australian Associated Press