Very Fast Frequency Control Ancillary Services

Two new frequency control ancillary service markets have been introduced into the National Electricity Market. Very Fast Raise and Very Fast Lower contingency services harness the power of new and emerging energy infrastructure to maintain power system security and safety.

What are frequency control ancillary services?

To ensure the security of energy supply, maintain infrastructure integrity and manage safety risks of the National Electricity Market (NEM), the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) manages a series of system operations, including frequency control ancillary services

The NEM relies on a balance of generation and demand to maintain frequency – if demand for energy is higher than available generated energy, the frequency of the system will decrease, and if the demand is lower than available generation, the frequency will increase. Frequency control ancillary services (FCAS) correct the frequency of the power system as the demand on the system changes.

There are ten FCAS markets in the NEM, divided into two functions: regulation frequency control and contingency frequency control. Regulation services are used continuously to correct minor deviations in the balance of the system. Contingency services, however, respond to major fluctuations (like a major generator outage or damage to the transmission system).

These services are provided by registered Market Participants. Service providers are remunerated for delivering FCAS and also for maintaining availability of the services even when they aren’t in use.

Very Fast FCAS

A new rule change introduced two new FCAS markets on 9 October 2023. These markets, called Very Fast Raise and Very Fast Lower, are contingency markets, so they are designed to be used in response to major events that disrupt the balance of generation and demand.

Contingency FCAS markets are divided into categories depending on the speed the service provider can respond to market events. Different generators and loads1 have different response times – a gas turbine may not be able to respond as quickly as battery storage. 

As the energy transition progresses, improvements in energy technologies are unlocking new ways to manage and sustain Australia’s energy network. The introduction of Very Fast Raise and Very Fast Lower contingency markets allows AEMO to harness generators and loads that can respond almost instantly and provide stability very fast.

A good example of this is a battery: batteries have the ability to charge (pulling power from the NEM) as well as discharge (pushing energy into the NEM) in a controlled manner. Many batteries can charge or discharge significant amounts of stored energy quickly, providing faster stabilisation.

Can I participate in FCAS?

FCAS markets are limited to registered Market Participants. To understand the minimum standards required to apply to the market, Participants should use AEMO’s Market ancillary services specification and FCAS verification tool and review the Fast Frequency Response Initiative.

If you would like to know what FCAS and the introduction of the ‘Very Fast’ markets might mean for your project, submit an enquiry to the Innovation Enquiry Service.

Loads create demand on the system because they require energy. Loads range from household consumption through to industrial applications.