Solar PV R&DProject SA Power Networks Flexible Exports for Solar PV Trial
This first lessons learnt report covers the activities since project commencement, standards development, and early stages of the technical development.
The Flexible Exports for Solar PV project (‘the Project’) is a demonstration project seeking to help integrate more rooftop solar into Australia’s electricity network.
Most current rooftop solar systems across Australia lack the ability to intelligently control the amount of electricity exports to the network. At certain times in the year, too much electricity is generated in the middle of the day and exported back to the network. As a result, the local distribution networks in areas with high rooftop solar uptake can become congested. To avoid exceeding the technical limits of the network and manage this issue today, energy networks impose zero or near-zero energy export limits on new solar systems in congested areas.
As more Australian households install rooftop solar and network constraints increase, more new solar customers will face limits that prevent them from exporting electricity back to the network. This can create an inequitable system where early adopters of rooftop solar ‘use up’ the available grid capacity, and late adopters are constrained.
The aim of this Project is to provide a new option for customers connecting solar PV in areas of the network that are already at capacity, who are currently required by Distribution Network Service Providers (DNSP) to limit their systems with a permanent zero or near-zero export limit.
This new flexible option will enable customers to export energy most of the time, and only reduce exports during specific periods when the network is constrained, thus maximising export capacity for solar customers and making more cheap, renewable energy available for all electricity customers.
SA Power Networks, in collaboration with AusNet Services, three market-leading inverter vendors (Fronius, SMA and SolarEdge) and one inverter gateway provider (SwitchDin) are co-developing an end-to-end technical solution, using smart inverter technology. The system will enable customers’ inverters to automatically adjust their export limits every five minutes based on a locational, dynamic limit signal provided by the DNSP. The Project will also develop a new flexible customer connection offer, and test customer understanding and acceptance during a 12-month field trial.