If you want a 5kW solar system in QLD – consider getting it before March 1 2015!

QLD map

Rules for installing solar in QLD change on March 1

****UPDATE****

On 12th Feb 2015 Ergon and Energex announced that they are extending this deadline from 1 March out to 30 September 2015.

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The Queensland electricity networks (hello Ergon and Energex!) are a fussy bunch. At the time of writing (Jan 2015) if you want to install a standard grid connect solar system bigger than 5kW, you need to jump through all sorts of technical hoops. And then the networks may also insist that you install a box of electronics that stops any of your excess energy being exported. That’s right you have to waste any excess clean energy instead of letting your neighbours use it!

They are certainly making it hard for Queenslanders to install decent sized solar systems, that’s for sure.

The net result is that most Queenslanders have been installing 5kW systems to keep things simple and cost effective.

However from March 1 2015 one of these extra technical requirements will be applied to systems between 3kW and 5kW.

From March 1 if you install a system over 3kW you will need to use a special inverter that has a feature called “reactive power control”. This is either built into the inverter, or can often be added by inserting a special electronic module.

Suffice to say it may add to the cost of the system and will certainly limit your choice of inverters. It will also reduce your power output slightly when it is really sunny!

If you install a 5kW solar system before March 1, you don’t need to add this expensive feature.

So what’s a Queenslander to do if they are considering getting a 5kW solar system? Get your application to connect in before 1 March 2015!

(And of course you can kick off the process by getting 3 quotes here!)

About Finn Peacock

I'm a Chartered Electrical Engineer, Solar and Energy Efficiency nut, dad, and founder of SolarQuotes.com.au. My last "real job" was working for the CSIRO in their renewable energy division.

Comments

  1. How will this affect those who go “Off Grid”, & have no chance of ever being “On Grid”?

  2. why not have a dual system with the advance in led lights have all lights running off a 12 or 24 volt system (off grid) the battery requirement would be low and a 2.5 kw grid system for all other requirements that leaves more solar power to sell to the power companies .

  3. is it worth registering if you intend to build a house in a years time?

    • Hi Mark,

      No – unfortunately you’ll have to follow the new rules.

      Finn

      • Bill Featon says

        Hi Finn, it looks like Energex has already brought in the restriction on over 5 Kw systems, I rang Origin this morning to upgrade my 2.5 system by adding a 4.0 Kw system and was informed that I could only upgrade to a 3.0 system in addition to the 2.5 system that I already have because Energex won’t allow any systems above 5.0 Kw now.

  4. I have a 5kw inverter and 27 panels my first bill around $200+fortnightly instalments I thought that was ok I don’t know why but I rang Ergon to see if this is right she said yes that alright then Ergon sent me a letter and told me You are now on a 8cent rebate and we will not be charging me the the rebate on your first bill my wife keeps throwing it in my face Solar consultants told I would have no bill and when I ring them up they won’t ring me back and when I ring the they ask me to read out the Etotal and the Today total then they say it is fine you must be using to much power I just get the run around . And then Iam told Ergon has a team looking for ways of cutting people off the 44cents rebar my credit karst bill was $45. The bill was over a thousand what a ripoff and no one can help me my friends are on the 44cent all they had was a letter they had there system fitted the same time.
    Thanks for letting me speak.

  5. I brought a solar system from Solar Consultants and it is a 5kw and 27 panels the first bill was ok around $200 +monthly instalment the company told me I would have no bill so I rang Ergon to ask them if this is right lest then a week later got a letter from Ergon telling me I am not in the 44c and for the first bill we that is Ergon will not charge me for the discount and your rebate is 8c and it is now down to 6c our bill is for 3 months $1000 +fortnightly instalment and when I ring solar Consultant s they ask me to go and read the meter the E Total and the E Today and then they say is is running find and you are saving heaps and yes Iam pissoff so with what you know what can you tell me

    • lonnie nielsen says

      re the 8 cents per kw you are being riped off try click engey
      they are paying 50 cents per kw and they have good deals on top i find them great
      i am over the big firms

  6. What does the “box of electronics” do that the inverter’s own, required, grid disconnect feature doesn’t do?

    Australian standards require inverters sold here to disconnect from the grid if the grid voltage goes above 253 V. This prevents any one inverter from dumping too much current into the grid. In effect, if the current being dumped in isn’t raising grid voltage out of range, it’s not “too much”.

    • Hi Greg,

      Excellent point. Energex call them “power limiting devices” and, depending on the results of their “technical assessment”, can insist on them being fitted to systems over 5kW.

      Interesting to note that they don’t have a problem with you banging a 25kW air conditioner on the grid that will intermittently draw a shed load of power on the highest demand days – but don’t want you feeding a fraction of that back in with a solar system.

      If you are interested in what these devices look like there is a list here taken from Power & Water’s website:

      Crisp Power and Control – Zero Export Solar System
      EBA Grid Control Unit GCU-30C
      GNT Engineering ZED series
      Integrelec SPS023150-ABB
      Magellan Solar Gate
      PM Control – SolarTune
      Power & Drive Renewable Solutions Non Export Unit
      S4Solar Zero Export Controller
      Selectronic SP PRO/SP PRO GO series
      Sol Distribution Sol-0-X Grid Export Limiting System for SMA Inverters
      SolarEdge Feed-in Limitation
      SMA Power Control Module
      SolaX Power Hybrid Series
      Voltlogic VLI105P1
      Zero Export Controls Australia CEC3000

      Cheers,

      Finn

  7. PETER WATKINS says

    My electricity retailer is Click Energy. Can I still retain it if I install a solar system?

  8. The best thing to do is install batteries with an automatic mains/ battery stabiliser. This is the key to take control of your own energy situation!

    • Mike

      I had a 3,7kw system installed in May, 2013.
      I’m interested in getting batteries for my solar
      system. Briefly, what are the costs …..

      cheers
      wOZfromOZ

  9. Warren Perkins says

    How are they allowed to get away with this, New QLD Government need to sort this shit

  10. Hey Finn,

    I’m generally a fan of your work, but this is – to my understanding – misleading.

    From March 1, 2015, “systems capable of exporting more than 3kVA (3 kW) must have a Power Factor (reactive power) Control setting activated at a designated value.”(Energex)

    This does not mean it will be more expensive or less effective to get a 5kw solar system after March 1.

    This does mean :

    Your inverter needs to have that capability. (Unless you are buying a second hand inverter off gumtree – you’ll be fine).

    When your inverter is running flat out on a good day at lunch time (a 5kw inverter running over 4500w), your 8 cent feed in tariff will effectively be a 7.2 feed in tariff. (You lose one tenth of bugger all, hardly ever).

    The grid voltage problems caused by solar will marginally reduced and Energex will be able to allow more solar on to the grid. (Nope, Energex are not the enemy.)

    I’d like to hear if you thought I was missing something.

    (Read my blog at http://mcelectrical.com.au/the-last-days-of-5kw-solar/)

    Mark

    • Hi Mark,

      I disagree.

      1) It will be more expensive for many folks because they will be forced to get a more expensive inverter than they would otherwise have chosen. And even if they were planning on getting a top of the range SMA – I believe the power control module is an extra $200 or so at wholesale?

      2) It will make the system less effective. Yes – it is only 10% less on really good solar days – but it is less effective nonetheless.

      3) Your inverter choice is seriously limited. About 20% of our enquiries are for microinverters. Adding reactive power control to a microinverter system is going to be bloody expensive (unless I am missing something?).

      So I stand by the post which says – if you are planning on getting a 5kW system in QLD – it is definitely worth considering getting it before these rules kick in.

      And I don’t think it will make any difference to grid stability. You are much kinder to Energex than I am 🙂

      Cheers,

      Finn

  11. Hi Finn,

    Are you please able to share the link in which you found this announcement?

    I have tried to find other articles on this matter to verify your article however I cannot.

    Thank you,
    Elise

  12. have panels installed for 5kv inverter with ergon energy,other people in area have 5kv system.fully installed.ergon knocked back my application,applied for 4kv knocked back also,only can have 3kv .[BUT]IF I APPLY COST $250 TO UPGRADE SYSTEM TO POWER POLE AND INSTALL SOMETHING ON POLE I MAY GET APPROVAL..BUT NOT GAURANTEED..6CENTS IS WHAT I GET PAID BUT WANT TO USE MOST POWER MYSELF..SO WHY HAVE I BEEN KNOCKED BACK,AND WHY MUST I PAY FOR ERGONS UPGRADE..

  13. Hi Finn,

    Are you please able to share with me where you got this information from? I have tried to verify your information however I cannot see anything on the change.

    Your help is appreciated,

    Elise

  14. Maris Rosser says

    Hi Finn

    When this was first posted – I commented/queried whether – given a change of government is imminent in Queensland – your comments are still applicable as (I am hoping) the incoming government (highly likely as of today’s date – to be Labor)may have a substantially different view & encourage MORE access to solar not less ??????

    Would appreciate a response – to now my second query in this regard.
    Thanks
    Maris

    • Hi Maris,

      I think Labor will be more solar friendly – but I’m not sure they can force the networks to change their grid connection standards. Although they could certainly put pressure on them.

      Finn

  15. Do you here any whisperings of any thing similar for solar in Sydney ?

    Sydney PV systems are normally around that size 3kW – 5kW in the suburbs of Sydney.

    Might mean we will only see microinverters on the smaller systems in the inner west. Bit of a blow for Enphase !

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