How Much Solar Can You Install In The Endeavour Energy Network Area?

Installing solar panels in NSW's Endeavour Energy Network Area

If you want to find out how much solar power capacity Endeavour Energy will let you install, don’t go to their website. It’s hopeless. Their phone support, however, is excellent.

A few days ago I received an email from a reader saying it appeared NSW’s Endeavour Energy had altered the amount of solar they allow to be connected to the grid.  Because this was relevant to my interests, I immediately went to the Endeavour Energy site to see what size solar systems could be installed.  Unfortunately, I immediately became confused.

The Endeavour Energy Area

Endeavour Energy is a Distributed Network Service Provider or DNSP in New South Wales.  They’re in charge of distributing electricity from long-distance transmission lines, local rooftops and batteries to homes and businesses.  They cover western Sydney as well as a large area out to the Blue Mountains and down past Wollongong all the way to Durras North:

 

NSW Endeavour Energy network area

If you’re not in this area, this article probably isn’t of interest to you.  If you do live here but aren’t interested in my blather and just want to know how much solar you can install on your roof, skip down to the heading, “How Much Solar Endeavour Allows”.

Endeavour’s Unclear Internet Info

On the Endeavour Energy page with the all caps title, “INSTALLING A NEW SOLAR GENERATOR”  there are two sentences on how much solar properties can install.  They are…

“If you are connecting a new solar micro generation system or upgrading an existing system with a total inverter capacity no greater than 10kW single phase (230v) or 30kW three phase (400v)”

And…

“We allow connection of up to 14 kW total panels to a 10 kW inverter or up to 40 kW total panels to a 30 kW inverter.”

Here’s a screenshot of the section:

Endeavour Energy explanation

That’s the sort of thing I might expect to see at the start of an explanatory section that clearly outlines how this applies to households in terms the average Australian can understand, but there was nothing else on the page explaining what it means. 

I checked if there were links to further details but found nothing useful.  If you try to use their online service you have to apply for a connection, which is not what people who are only looking for information want to do.  

I can try to guess what Endeavour Energy allows thanks to my many years of experience at guessing, but it will only be a guess and the average person who just wants to know what size solar system they can install is likely to be completely lost.  I think any mildly optimistic person who read the limited information Endeavour provides could easily conclude there’s no problem installing a large 14 or 40 kilowatt rooftop solar power system and exporting all the excess solar energy it generates to the grid. 

I’m mildly optimistic myself, but I do have a small particle of experience rattling around inside my head and it told me the optimistic interpretation probably wasn’t correct.   

With a sinking heart, I realized the only way I would know for sure what they permit would be to call Endeavour Energy.  I’m not too proud to admit this realization caused me to break down and cry.  Fortunately, I’m tough and it only took two days to pull myself together and actually make the call. 

Preparing For The Worst

To prepare to call Endeavour Energy, the first thing I did was write down all the questions I wanted to ask.  This is vital because past experience with electricity retailers and DNSPs had taught me they can put you on hold for so long you can forget why you called them. 

I also decided I probably wasn’t going to get through this without taking drugs, so I went to the supermarket and bought a big bottle of Pepsi Max1 so I’d have plenty of caffeine to keep me awake while waiting on hold. 

I then ate a big lunch to keep on hold hunger at bay, set my mobile phone to speaker mode, and dialled Endeavour. 

Endeavour Tries To Assassinate Me With Good Service

A computer immediately answered the phone and asked me to describe in a few words what I wanted.  In a panic I barked, “Home! Solar! Capacity!” and the computer said it could help me. 

If you remember the Alpha Complex computer from when you were a kid, congratulations. You’re one of the few survivors.

I was concerned it would help me by sending people in white coats to come and take me away or perhaps use me as reactor shielding.  But, instead, after making the phone ring two times, a human being answered and I was able to — more or less calmly — tell her what I wanted.  This was despite being shocked by how rapidly she had answered. 

She told me I would be transferred to someone who could help and I thought this would be how they would get me.  I’d be on hold waiting for the relevant person for hours or, alternatively, end up being sent back to the first person I spoke to.  Instead, the phone rang twice again and was answered by someone who answered all my questions. 

I’m not saying the shock nearly killed me — as previously mentioned I’m so tough the need to call Endeavour Energy only made me break down and cry for two days — but I will say I was flabbergasted by the surprisingly good service. 

So 10 out of 10 to Endeavour for great phone service.  Negative several million for not putting clear information on the internet so people won’t have to call in the first place.   

How Much Solar Endeavour Allows

After speaking with the Endeavour Energy representative I learned they’ll allow the following with regard to rooftop solar capacity:

  1. A maximum of 10 kilowatts of solar inverter capacity per phase.
  2. A maximum of 5 kilowatts of solar export capacity per phase.
  3. Single-phase properties can have a maximum of 14 kilowatts of solar panels while 3 phase properties can have a maximum of 40 kilowatts of panels.
  4. AC coupled batteries with battery inverters, such as the Tesla Powerwall, don’t contribute to the inverter limit.

I’ve outlined exactly what this means for homes with single-phase power and three-phase power below:

I Have A Single Phase Property

If your property has single-phase power, as most homes do, then for a normal solar installation…

  • You can install up to 10 kilowatts of solar inverter capacity. 
  • Your solar panel capacity can be up to one-third larger than your inverter capacity.
  • You can only export a maximum of 5 kilowatts of power.  If your inverter is larger than 5 kilowatts it will need to be export limited so it will never export more than that amount.
  • If you get an AC coupled battery such as a Powerwall or SonnenBatterie, its battery inverter will not count towards your solar inverter capacity. 

If you want to receive the STCs (i.e. the “solar rebate“) that lower the cost of rooftop solar, then normally solar panel capacity can only be one-third larger than inverter capacity.  But there is a way around this:

  • If you install a battery and solar at the same time then you can install solar panel capacity more than one-third greater than your inverter capacity, up to a maximum of 14 kilowatts of panels, provided the inverter manufacturer permits it.

I Have A 3 Phase Property

If your property has three-phase power, then for a normal installation…

  • You can install up to 30 kilowatts of solar inverter capacity. 
  • Your solar panel capacity can be up to one-third larger than your inverter capacity.
  • You can only export a maximum of 5 kilowatts of power per phase for a total of 15 kilowatts.  Solar inverters capable of exporting more than 5 kilowatts per phase will need to be export limited so they will never exceed that amount. 
  • If you get an AC coupled battery such as a Powerwall 2 or SonnenBatterie its battery inverter will not count towards your solar inverter capacity. 

To receive the STCs that lower the cost of going solar, panel capacity usually cannot be more than one-third greater than inverter capacity.  An exception to this is…

  • If you install a battery at the same time as solar you can install solar panel capacity more than one-third greater than the inverter capacity up to a maximum of 40 kilowatts of panels — provided the inverter manufacturer allows it.

Export Limiting

Endeavour Energy will only allow a maximum of 5 kilowatts of exports per phase. Any solar inverter capable of exporting more than 5 kilowatts per phase must be limited so it won’t exceed this amount. 

You can read a succinct explanation of how export limiting works here while this article gives a wordier explanation of what it is.

Export limiting can cause some solar energy to go to waste, but in most situations, the losses will be insignificant.  This means it can be financially worthwhile for households to use export limiting to install a solar system that can produce more solar power than they can export.  I recommend considering it when getting solar. 

You May Be Screwed Over On How Much You Can Export

Endeavour says they allow a maximum of 5 kilowatts of exports per phase.  Unfortunately, they can require new solar to export less than this.  It’s even possible for properties to be zero export limited and not allowed to provide any power to the grid.  When they do this, it’s not personal.  It’s to do with how much solar exports your local area can handle.  DNSPs are working to increase the amount of rooftop solar exports that can be accepted, but in some places, I don’t think they’re moving fast enough.  It’s not as if we can afford to dawdle when it comes to slowing the rate of global roasting. 

You Can Ask For Something Different

If you want something different, say you want to install a big, 100 kilowatt commercial solar system, you can check with them for details on that.  They put it this way…

If you are installing residential rooftop solar and want something different to what I’ve outlined above.  Say, you want to be allowed to export more than 5 kilowatts per phase, you can always ask…

But don’t be too surprised if they don’t allow it.

Endeavour Energy — Please Steal My Words

I’ll definitely give Endeavour Energy credit for being so quick to answer the phone and put me in touch with someone who could tell me what I wanted to know.  But if they had put clear information on their website, I wouldn’t need to bother them in the first place. 

Endeavour Energy — if you are too busy to come up with your own clear explanation, please steal my words.  You can take everything below the heading, “How Much Solar Endeavour Allows”.  While I’d like some credit for what I’ve written, that’s not what’s important.  If it makes life a little easier for just one Australian trying to work out how much solar they can put on their roof, the theft will be worthwhile. 

Endeavour Energy, I’m begging you to take the words right out of my mouth.

Footnotes

  1. Kids, don’t try this at home.  Only drink Pepsi Max under adult supervision.  Unless all the adults are drunk.  In this case, you may as well give it a go.
About Ronald Brakels

Many years ago now, Ronald Brakels was born in Toowoomba. He first rose to international prominence when his township took up a collection to send him to Japan, which was the furthest they could manage with the money they raised. He became passionately interested in environmental matters upon his return to Australia when the local Mayor met him at the airport and explained it was far too dangerous for him to return to Toowoomba on account of climate change and mutant attack goats. Ronald then moved to a property in the Adelaide Hills where he now lives with his horse, Tonto 23.

Comments

  1. John Mitchell says

    So if you are export limited to the maximum allowable, why can Endeavour Energy then dictate the maximum amount of solar you can have on your roof? Is it a safety thing?

    • Ronald Brakels says

      There are edge cases where they could say a large solar system could contribute to destabilization of the grid under some circumstances. I think they are being very cautious. Personally, I’m in favour of caution, but only when all relevant risks are accounted for. One large risk often ignored in Australia comes from not rapidly cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

  2. Welcome to our world Ronald. That is the first I have heard of export limiting on 3-phase in Endeavour Energy area. But having said that, we never hear from them anyway, not ever. No inspections, no inspectors, not even to ask pertinent questions relating to their grid.

    Cross the street in to Ausgrid, they almost sense your in their area and come after you.

    Maybe we should request a standardised set of rules across the country…but that’s hard when we can’t get this across a suburb in Sydney.

    Great research Ronald!

  3. Interesting, but you may have missed an important question. How does grid connected solar power affect imported grid power tariffs?

    We just notified our power provider of a new solar system install to have the meter changed so we could start exporting and was told we would have to agree to new time of use tarifs including high demand times when grid supply would cost more or be limited. Oooch, they got us in the corner with now where to go.

    For now it is so cool watching the old meter run backwards. Why cant we just leave it connected to the old meter?

    • Ronald Brakels says

      Electricity privatization was sold to Australians with promises of lower prices and more choice. Electricity prices have since soared and they are doing a good job of eliminating choice. You should be free to choose whichever electricity plan you want. Unfortunately, electricity customers are often treated more like serfs than customers.

      I’m afraid you can’t leave it connected to your last meter and watch it go backwards. Your solar installer should have demonstrated that the system works and then turned it off. If your meter goes back beyond its last reading that may cause complications.

    • Who are you with ?

      I converted to a smart meter and was not required to change to Time-of-use charging.

      I am in the Endevour area and use Energy Locals as my retailer.

    • Tim Efthymiou says

      No old meter for you. I’m in Sydney and as soon as we installed a solar system, we were forced to go on time of use tariff. So I installed 3 batteries (2 lg and 1 powerwall) (10.4 kw solar system) and have never paid peak power rates in the last 3 years. In fact I get a substantial credit every quarter. (in the vicinity of around $450-$600 credit). without the batteries, I think I’d be in a little trouble and would be wondering if the solar system would be beneficial as peak rate where I am are 60 cents per kw/h 2pm-8pm, that’s just ridiculous rate charges. I think any feed in tariff during the day would be well and truly eaten up by the crazy peak rate prices. Feed in rate has just been reduced further recently to 8.5c per kw/h.

      • Hey Tim,

        Do you still export solar in winter after charging batteries?

        Given your 2x LG Chem and 1x Powerwall (26.5kWh), was there any fancy circuitry put in place? Is there merit in keeping the same battery brand? And what do you see as your ROI on the battery investment?

    • Your retailer, not the distributor, will determine which tariffs will be available to you as a customer. But usually high FiT means going on a ToU. However, ToU is an obsolete tariff in Endeavour Energy. New customers will be put on SToU (Seasonal Time of Use). Existing customers will transition from ToU to SToU as that has happened already to me in the Endeavour Energy area.

      But retailers don’t need to follow the distributors ToU tariff pattern and can offer their own. They will have to readjust the smart meter data readings to match the time periods. It’s just the distributor will charge accordingly irrespective of the retailer’s plan. It’s up to the retailer whether they can swallow the charges imposed by the distributor (at least in NSW). Hence why most retailers will follow the distributor tariff structure to keep billing simple.

      I would strongly advise turning off your solar system with the analogue disc meter as you run the risk of not having your system connected permanently.

      It will be unusual to hear of users on High FiT and not be on ToU/SToU/Demand tariff.

  4. You were luckier than me. I switched from Energy Aus to Energy Locals and was a bit surprised ( to put it mildly) when on my first bill I noticed that instead of the single rate Tarif I was expecting and had been on for years my bill was now a TOU. After a bit of back and forth with Energy locals they basically concluded that when my meter was upgraded when I installed solar I ended up with a TOU meter which Energy Australia actually billed me as under a flat Tarif but when i switched retailers I had no choice but to move to TOU. I spent a lot of time reading all sorts of info and asking all sorts of questions but basically I got told to suck it up because it was the distributors rules. It left a pretty stinky impression with me with the lack of transperancy.


  5. If your property has single-phase power, as most homes do, then for a normal solar installation…

    You can install up to 10 kilowatts of solar inverter capacity.
    Your solar panel capacity can be up to one-third larger than your inverter capacity.
    You can only export a maximum of 5 kilowatts of power. If your inverter is larger than 5 kilowatts it will need to be export limited so it will never export more than that amount.
    If you get an AC coupled battery such as a Powerwall or SonnenBatterie, its battery inverter will not count towards your solar inverter capacity.

    So, apart from the antipathy of the WA state government, toward clean energy (“We are kept rich by the fossil fuel companies lining our pockets, so, we will have fossil fuel fired electricity generation, regardless of the cost, because only the fossil fuel companies and our wealth, matter, and, the plebs and the environment are expendable”), why can this not equally apply to the SWIS grid, where we are allowed to export up to 5kW to the grid, to keep the electricity supply as stable as it is?

    After all, it is we, who have household rooftop photovoltaic systems, that give the grid, the stability that is has, and, without us, the fragile and decrepit SWIS grid, would be floundering in its death throes, and, if we had behind the meter batteries, and, more allowance of photovoltaic electricity generation, the SWIS grid would be even more stable and less unreliable.

    • I’m in the same boat

      The max inverter size in WA is 10kw per phase, set by Western Power

      The max inverter size in WA if you want to get paid for anything you export is 5kw total, as decided by Synergy

      The Western Power limit may be useful if we ever actually get another choice in biller, other than Synergy.
      I wouldn’t mind a plan where I pay the wholesale price of energy, and at times have to pay to export

      I would love to just export limit to 5kw, with a 15kw inverter and 20kw in panels. Maybe the solution is to just do it on the sly

      Only problem is, all the meters with solar installations are getting network cards to provide a meter read every 30mins (2880 readings per bill)
      No hiding extra capacity, as export over 5kw would stick out like a sore thumb 🙁

      This is the email that Western Power sent me:
      What does this mean for you?
      Advanced metering functionality is being activated progressively and once up and running there are a number of benefits, including:

      1. Remote and automatic meter reading leading to fewer estimated bills
      2. The potential to detect faults and supply issues early. Advanced meters can automatically and remotely detect unusual patterns in electricity flows which could indicate a fault.
      3. You can take advantage of new technologies including community batteries, microgrids and electric vehicles

      • “all the meters with solar installations are getting network cards to provide a meter read every 30mins (2880 readings per bill)”

        Do you know whether this applies to existing solar systems with “smart meters” (we have an EM1000), or, to only new solar systems?

        Also, are the 30 minute meter readings to be accessible/transmitted to the consumers, on an ongoing basis (if wanted by the consumer, and, at no charge to the consumer)?

        Apart from other aspects, it could provide consumers with a more frequent monitoring of importing/exporting traffic of electrons.

        At present, when I remember, each evening, I read all the available values off our meter, to monitor daily importing and exporting of power.

        Whilst this new, 30 minute readings on meters, would not show dynamic flows, it could show volume for each half hour.

        I have not received such an email message from Western Power. I do receive email notifications from them, of scheduled outages (we had one on Wednesday 03 March).

        In terms of what we are and are not allowed, in inverters and panels capacity, Goodwe has its MS range of inverters, which go up to the 10kW one, that allows 13.5kW of panels generating capacity, and, if Goodwe (or someone else) developed such an inverter, I believe that we should be allowed an inverter that can input up to the 13.5kW of DC power, convert up to 5kW of A/C power, and, direct the balance to available battery storage, or, limit the output, to the 5kW of A/C power, and, be configurable, like the Goodwe GW5048D-ES, to act as a UPS, and, to discharge battery power, when the available photovoltaic generation is insufficient for the load.

        Oh, and, all of this, applies to single phase connections, as applicable to most of us plebs.

  6. I know that with my last solar install, the installer had put the export limiter on the wrong phase service wire (I have 3 phase but only 1 phase is in service, the installer put the export limiter on a dead phase = result – no export limit, the inverter thinks there’s nothing going out.). As a result, I can export more than 5kW. This has been in place for 2+ years now. It sticks out on the smart meter data I download from my portal from my current retailer.

    But I guess it’s not critical because I am only 1 of 3 houses with Solar PV on the block of 37 houses and Grid voltages go up to about 247V at maximum export of 8kW. However, my house is right at the end of the line basically. So, all my exports would be taken up by houses up the line.

    I’ll just play dumb if they ever discover the export limiter was on the wrong cable and I’ll just say that the installer put it in, not me.

    How I discovered this was I went to put a CT to monitor energy flows and I saw the exporter limit and assumed that must be the active phase wire. But i couldn’t get any readings. So, I traced the service fuse wires and found that it was on a different phase (also I only have a single phase meter) and I got my readings. So, now I paid for a export limiter that is actually not doing anything. More exports for me!

    This is posted anonymously because I don’t want to give away my email or details in case I get a knock on the door 🙂

  7. You’re article is wrong because you don’t understand what youre doing.
    Have you ever applied to endeavour energy for a specific installation with different inverter types ie 1 x 3phase 30kw inverter Vs 3xSingle phase 10kw inverters inverters? do you understand phase balancing and network regulations? Have you done the paper applications with SLD and asked for manual approvals?

    Try that and then write an article on the results with the correct information .

    This is just another reason why this site is bad for the industry, you think you know but you mislead the public and then companies that actually know are left cleaning up your mess.

    • Hi Luke,

      Thanks for the comment, I hope Skyline Solar is going well for you.

      If you find errors in any of our posts, please just let us know exactly what’s wrong and we’ll look into it.

      If you have any specific examples of where “companies that actually know are left cleaning up your mess.” then please let us know the details.

      Cheers,

      Finn

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