By the time Cyclone Debbie made landfall on the Queensland coast in the early afternoon of 28 March, AEMO’s National Electricity Market Real Time Operations (NEM RTO) team had been tracking its movement for days using its “abnormal condition monitoring system”, Indji Watch.

Indji Watch is an application used extensively across the energy industry during extreme events such as storms and bushfires. During Cyclone Debbie it allowed the NEM RTO team to be aware of its vital information and be alerted to the cyclone’s every move, down to a matter of metres. 

Indji Watch shows such activities as wind speeds, direction, temperatures and lightning strikes and is used by NEM RTO in conjunction with the Australian Bureau of Meteorology severe weather warnings and the Weatherzone Dashboard, a custom made product, to monitor weather conditions in real time. 

“It was a great tool to have during the Cyclone Debbie event as we were able to know exactly where the cyclone was, how fast it was moving, where it was likely to go and which power system assets were under risk,” according to Tjaart van der Walt, AEMO’s NEM RTO Senior Manager. 

In its early stages, Indji Watch was just used for bushfire detection, but over the years it has developed into a far more sophisticated tool. “It can now monitor lightning strikes and severe weather events like we saw with Cyclone Debbie, down to very small distances with what are essentially real time updates. 

With fires, it shows us things like the position of the fire, its speed, likely direction, the prevailing winds and even the topography which might affect its movement,” said Mr van der Walt. “It gives us ‘heads up’ alerts in the control room, which, as you can imagine during the summer bushfire season or severe weather events where there is a lot of lightning, means the alerts are going off pretty much non-stop!”

But the beauty of the Indji Watch application is not just its ability to monitor events and provide information about conditions and sudden shifts in those conditions. “Indji Watch actually has the transmission and distribution network lines mapped into it which means we are able to see exactly what is at risk and use it to assist with the reclassification of lines. It is extremely important to us,” said Mr van der Walt. 

Automation of NEM RTO processes will continue this year when the energy and market systems will be notified of lightning strikes near vulnerable lines by Indji Watch, and with controller verification, automatically reclassify credible contingencies and release market alerts.