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CIGRE Australia - Case studies

  • Case study 1 - An example from Ausgrid - one of our larger Distribution utilities

One of the benefits of CIGRE for us has been in the areas of improving our environmental performance, reducing costs and facilitating public acceptance
A fluid filled cable replacement project faced significant public opposition on the grounds of potential health effects associated with EMF. Building on previous work of CIGRE SC C4, an EMF mitigation technique was developed for the project. This technique was a world first, and when combined with other measures, reduced the magnetic field at property boundaries by 95%. These measures proved to be a key factor in reducing stakeholder opposition and enabling the project to proceed.
As a result of this project, these measures have been adopted as standard practice and the project planning and community engagement process redesigned.  A key input into this redesign was the international practices and learnings discussed in a CIGRE SC C3 technical brochure on community engagement.
Through CIGRE,  an Ausgrid member is now leading an international working group providing guidance on EMF management for both the national and the international community. This process has also provided access to the work of international experts which has allowed the Australian Electricity Supply Industry to address areas of compliance where there was previously limited knowledge.
Decommissioning of cable for this project required draining the cable of residual oil to minimise environmental impacts. Fluid filled cable decommissioning was specifically addressed at a recent CIGRE C3 meeting in Paris where international practices were shared and discussed. As a result of these discussions, Ausgrid trialled and subsequently adopted a technique whereby water is pushed through the cable. This technique resulted in draining close to 100% of the free cable oil from the cable compared to the previous method which used compressed nitrogen and drained around 50%.

  • Case Study 2 -  One of our Transformer manufacturer members ( Wilson Transformer)  has provided several examples of how CIGRE has aided in their day to day business.


Engineering Feedback
CIGRE group work helps in providing a platform for a robust technical discussion between manufacturer and customer. It thus also helps our engineers to focus on the real requirements and bringing overall optimisation.  Copper sulphide issue, high temperature materials and HV bushings are some of the glaring examples where CIGRE work has immensely helped the consumer and manufacturers alike.
Design review guidelines has helped Wilson Transformer Company in following ways

  • Develop a standard format for design reviews.
  • Initiate the auto-information extraction for design review document.

Sales / Field Feedback
The Technical Brochures produced by CIGRE are of immense value, as they bring together the results of many years of world-wide experience and research into a format that can be readily understood and followed and which would otherwise be unavailable to the majority of people.
Those that have proven to be of special value to Wilson Transformer Company in recent months include:

  • For developing our maintenance practices and forming advice to customers:
    • 227 – Life management techniques for power transformers
    • 248 – Guide for economics of transformer management
    • 445 – Guide for transformer maintenance


  • For dealing with the issue of corrosive sulphur:
    • 378 – Copper sulphide in transformers. The ongoing work of WG A2.40 is critical to this issue, especially as we are now seeing problems associated with formation of silver sulphides, for which there is no commercially available passivator to date.


  • Evaluating ester fluids
    • 436 – Experience in service with new insulating liquids


  • Others
    • 530  - Guide for conducting factory capability assessment for power transformers
    • 529 – Guidelines for conducting design reviews for power transformers
    • 528- Guide of preparation of specifications for power transformers

Tutorials prepared by working groups are also very well received, as they provide further background and information related to the associated technical brochures and give opportunity for discussion with those who have been involved with their production. Progress papers and reports from the working groups and task forces are also of immense value.
CIGRE  seminars are also of immense importance in Australia as they often bring overseas speakers to which we have little or no access on a regular basis. They are well attended and provide an opportunity to mix with and learn from experts from around the world and the building of contacts and friendships that last for many years and prove immensely valuable.

  • Case Study 3 - Another example from Transpower ( NZ) , one of our transmission company members

“We experienced catastrophic failure of a pothead termination on a transmission voltage cable, and subsequently identified issues with several others within our fleet. Our initial enquiry was through the manufacturer and supplier. However, we also connected to the CIGRE group of international cable experts and soon discovered that other utilities overseas had experienced similar issues. We were able to share information regarding the nature of the fault and mitigations. This ‘expert group thinking’ provided valuable technical information and significantly reduced the duration of specifying a rectification.”

  • Case Study 4 - An example and comment from our Market operator – AEMO


  • AEMO staff have taken the responsibility of convening CIGRE working groups C2.26 and C4.56.  AEMO’s involvement in these activities has provided an opportunity to establish Australia as one of the world leaders in dealing with rapidly changing generation mix and consumer behaviour, engaging with other experts to further broaden AEMO’s expertise and understanding, and leveraging on a larger pool of experts internationally to assist in addressing some of the highly relevant challenges Australia is currently facing.  

An example of where involvement in CIGRE activities has provided strong value to AEMO is active participation in WG B4.62 to discuss methodologies for assessing connection of wind farms to weak ac networks, and raising international awareness on issues associated with lack of system strength that at the time of establishing this working group were largely unknown by international and Australian expert communities. AEMO has recently published an article in CIGRE Science and Engineering journal, and is actively pursuing further opportunities.
From an Australian perspective, AEMO has found CIGRE Australia’s activities very useful and relevant, and has actively participated in CIDER and SEAPAC conferences in recent time.

  • In addition to CIGRE, AEMO is frequently involved in activities organised by Energy System Integration Group (ESIG), and Institution of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). However, AEMO considers CIGRE as the best possible one-stop shop considering its large geographical coverage and membership by most countries worldwide, and a closer focus on power industry as opposed to the academia.

Active participation in these working groups and other existing or future working groups and other activities provides an excellent opportunity for professional development of Power System Expertise for the future grid as it relates to an Australian context and some of the challenges currently being experienced.
AEMO extensively uses CIGRE working groups, technical brochures, green books, conferences and workshops as an excellent professional development opportunity for its staff. Furthermore, webinars organised following conclusion of working groups have been widely attended by AEMO Engineers.


  • Case Study 5 – Examples from Oakley Greenwood – an Australian Based Consultancy company


C5 Study Committee deals with Markets and Regulation.  There is no single best way to regulate the electricity sector or to design competitive markets and each country and market must seek the best design for their circumstances. Liaison with international C5 committees and working groups affords an unparalleled opportunity to interact with professionals dealing with similar key issues and questions, such as maintaining reliable, secure and least cost power and at the same time integrating new technologies.  Participation in CIGRE provides the opportunity to be in the same room (physically or virtually through collaboration tools) with 100 or more peers whereas in Australia at best one might find there are only a handful of equivalent people in the room at one time.  I also think CIGRE is a vastly under-used resource in the general market leading to much ‘re-inventing of the wheel’


I can quote two recent case studies based on participation in working groups where I was able to make contributions to professional work heavily informed by CIGRE.


The first relates to arrangements for reliability in the NEM, the WA WEM and the still evolving arrangements in NT.  A working group led by Norwegian representative with strong participation from France, US and Australia and South America examined around 25 different approaches to managing reliability.  WA recently considered the merits of retention of its capacity payment design vis a vis a retailer obligation.  Using knowledge gained from exposure to different designs in the CIGRE working group Oakley Greenwood expeditiously considered this question including making a detailed comparison of the relatively new French capacity market design which involves a form of Retailer Obligation.  In the WA situation, informed by Oakley Greenwood’s analysis, the WA market reform authorities concluded that refinements to the existing capacity payment mechanism was preferable to switching to a Retailer Obligation model.  In contrast the Australian Energy Security Board proposed a Retailer Obligation backstop to manage reliability in the NEM.  Given the quite different starting points for the existing designs the threshold for change to introduce a Retailer Obligation was much lower in the NEM.  Again using knowledge from CIGRE activity Oakley Greenwood assisted individual participants compare and contrast different options.   Separately Oakley Greenwood is advising authorities in the NT about market reform and is proposing a capacity market based on a Retailer Obligation model, this recommendation has been accepted and detailed design is underway.  In each case knowledge from CIGRE work has been instrumental in developing fit for purpose arrangements.


The second case study is for a working group that is still underway.  It is examining the design of arrangements to set market prices close to the time of dispatch which in many cases are closely linked to the different approaches to day ahead and intra-day markets, balancing markets and 5 minute pricing and how transmission congestion and environmental constraints are (or are not) considered in dispatch.  The work of this group is very timely as the Australian market considers initiatives such as the post 2025 market design and seeks to price new services need to manage the impact new technologies and thereby reduce the instances of system operator intervention.  Knowledge of different approaches will be invaluable in local developments and when complete will be available to inform changes to market design.