South Australian Flexible Solar Exports Update

Flexible solar exports - South Australia

To help accommodate more home solar power in South Australia, SA Power Networks (SAPN) will soon be offering some new solar owners in Adelaide a choice between flexible and fixed exports.

In an effort to manage the growing amount of solar in South Australia, existing system owners have an export limit of 5kW per phase. But as network congestion from solar power system uptake continues to build in some areas during periods of low energy demand, SAPN was faced with the prospect of introducing low or zero export limits in these areas; as has occurred in some places in other states.

Taking no action results in inverters tripping off or ramping down, and voltage issues for other non-solar customers in an affected area. There is also the potential for overloading or damaging network equipment that can then result in blackouts.

A tool already available to SAPN is recently introduced remote disconnection of solar systems installed in South Australia after September 28 last year, but that is primarily to be brought into play for wider network stability problems rather than localised issues.

Fixed Or Flexible Solar Exports Options

SAPN has been working with all stakeholders – government, the solar industry and customers – to approach things in a smarter way. For new solar customers in overloaded areas, it is planning to introduce the choice of either a new flexible export option or a flat limit.

The flexible exports option will provide new solar owners in affected areas with an export limit of up to 10kW per phase – but that will be subject to available network capacity. The full 10kW per phase can be exported when the network can handle it, but during times of heavy congestion it will automatically be adjusted to whatever the network is capable of dealing with through instructions sent to internet-connected smart inverters; down to a minimum of 1.5kW.

“For most of the time, this will mean customers have the opportunity to export more than they would on a lower fixed export limit, subject to the size of their unit and consumption patterns, even in highly overloaded parts of the network,” says SAPN.

The fixed limit option will be set at 1.5kW per phase, regardless of time of day or network conditions.

SAPN stresses this proposal will not affect existing solar customers, or those connecting or upgrading their systems where the network isn’t experiencing congestion issues. It notes less than 2% of new solar applicants are likely to be in areas affected.

SAPN’s goal is to double solar on its network by 2025.

“Flexible Exports and other initiatives we are undertaking will mean more South Australians will have the opportunity to install solar and gain the benefits,” said Mark Vincent, GM Strategy and Transformation.

At this point, just certain areas serviced by substations in the southern suburbs of Adelaide are most likely to be involved, initially as part of an ARENA-funded trial of flexible connection technology announced last year expected to kick off in June. SAPN says it plans to expand the service over time.

Notes For Solar Installers

SAPN is developing a tool for identifying customers who may be provided the offer, so installers can advise them of their options.

Installers will be able to check which customers may be impacted by looking up their NMI on SAPN’s SEG application form. But in order to take advantage of flexible exports, solar inverters must be compatible – and these will be listed on the SEG application form. If the customer chooses fixed exports, they’ll need an approved export-limiting device or configuration for the inverter.

Further information for solar installers can be found here.

About Michael Bloch

Michael caught the solar power bug after purchasing components to cobble together a small off-grid PV system in 2008. He's been reporting on Australian and international solar energy news ever since.

Comments

  1. Of course the South Australian state government is going to restrict the amount of clean energy going into its electricity grid, to make more room for the extra electricity that is going to be generated by extra power generation from burning more fossil fuels in South Australia.

    See
    https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-04-18/energy-and-emissions-reduction-deal-south-australia/100077114

    Nothing like parliamentary lies and deception, to pollute and kill people and other life forms.

    • Ronald Brakels says

      I don’t think that comes with a requirement to actually use the gas. If the economy improves there may be an increase gas generated electricity exports to Victoria, gas consumption has been heading down here in South Australia for a long time and this isn’t likely to stop.

    • If rooftop is going to be limited in export in peak generation times will large commercial wind and solar also be restricted in output? And if not why not? They are also paid to import to the grip so why should they be treated any different?

      • No, Gary – the burning question (yes, I am aware of the pun) is, will the electricity generators burning stuff, be shutdown “in peak generation times”?

        It all sounds quite clearly, like the nationwide move to punish users of clean energy, and to do whatever it takes, to burn even more fossil fuels, with the states’ and federal governments, and, especially, the AEMO/AEMC, having the policy “The hell with clean energy, and, the hell with the environment and public health and safety – let them all burn in hell for their sorcery”.

        This IS Australia, where photovoltaic electricity generation, and wind energy electricity generation, are officially classed as evil black magic, and, gratuitously burning fossil fuels, is officially regarded as being in accordance with the divine laws of causing as much harm as possible, while lining MP’s pockets with “donations” from fossil fuel companies.

      • Ronald Brakels says

        Rooftop solar exports will be limited when the wholesale price is below zero. Prices go negative when there is too much power being supplied to the grid and encourage anyone who is exposed to wholesale prices to uses more of it and encourages generators to supply less power as it is costing them money instead of making it.

        • As the blog software apparently does not provide for a level of reply to the appropriate level, here is the reply to the post


          Ronald Brakels says
          April 21, 2021 at 7:56 pm

          Unless you were being paid to provide ancillary services to the grid, would you keep your power station running if you had to pay for every kilowatt-hour it provided?

          I did not, at the time of reading that post, understand the words used.


          ancillary

          adjective
          adjective: ancillary

          providing necessary support to the primary activities or operation of an organization, system, etc.

          So, in this context, the question of whether the evil of the generators that burn stuff to generate electricity, are, in fact, now, necessary, should also, be entertained.

          Spending the 1100million AUD that is to be spent on increasing the burning of gas in South Australia, instead on household rooftop photovoltaic systems with 6.6kW panels generating capacity and 25kWh of UPS battery storage capacity, could result in at least 1GWh of extra battery storage capacity, and 290MW of electricity generation capacity, thence reducing the need for the electricity generators that burn stuff.

          There are alternatives.

          “We have the technology”

          The problem is that we are ruled by neanderthals who are too comfortable lining their pockets with pillage, and, with “donations” from the fossil fuel companies.

          And this is why the households with household rooftop photovoltaic systems, are victimised.

  2. Is there a list of the suburbs/postcode areas thate are, or likely to be, affected which is available to the public ?

  3. You wrote: …”At this point, just certain areas serviced by substations in the southern suburbs of Adelaide are most likely to be involved…” A friend is thinking of installing solar eon a small house. How could she find out whether the flexible exports system will apply in her area?

    Cheers

    JG

  4. Leon Surawski says

    It may be worthwhile for areas with oversupply to consider a community battery to absorb overgeneration with nighttime drawdown with their metered supply at the battery. The battery can then discharge fully to the grid at morning and evening peaks when high tariffs can make the stored power reap higher income.
    Or install a home battery and do the same thing.

    • “install a home battery …”

      Here’s a point to ponder…

      With the one thousand million AUD to be spent on emissions control in South Australia, think how many household rooftop photovoltaic systems with 6.6kW of panels generating capacity and 25kW of battery storage capacity with UPS functionality, that could pay to be installed…

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