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Project overview
  • Lead Organisation

    SA Power Networks

    Location

    Richmond, South Australia

    ARENA Program

    Advancing Renewables Program

  • Start Date

    July 2020

    Status

    Current

  • Project Partners
    AusNet Services, SwitchDin, Fronius, SMA, SolarEdge

Summary

This SA Power Networks Flexible Exports for Solar PV Trial project aims to produce a flexible connection option for solar PV systems, so customers don’t have to limit electricity export to permanent zero or near-zero in congested areas.

Need

The SA Power Networks Flexible Exports for Solar PV Trial project acknowledges that the electricity distribution network has a limited capacity to accommodate reverse power flows when solar PV systems export surplus energy to the grid in the middle of the day. To protect the network for all customers, distribution network service providers (DNSPs) must set static export limits at each customer connection point. Some DNSPs have had to impose zero or near-zero export limits for new solar PV systems in constrained parts of the network.

Flexible exports will remove the potential need for permanent zero-export settings, increasing value to the customer and increasing low-cost renewable energy available to the market.

Last updated
12 May 2021

Action

SA Power Networks (SAPN) and AusNet Services have partnered with inverter manufacturers Fronius SMA and SolarEdge, and energy management software company SwitchDin, to develop technical capabilities underpinning flexible exports for Australian solar PV systems – drawing on international smart inverter technical standards. SwitchDin will lead integration architecture design and develop the core integration software platform.

A 600-customer trial will include new and existing solar PV customers facing zero/near-zero export limits in South Australia and Victoria.

Two configurations will be tested: built-in integration of flexible export capability within one of two of the inverter partners, purchased by project participants; and a retrofit using SwitchDin’s Droplet device as a gateway combined with a compatible inverter.

Outcome

The aim is for standards-based flexible exports capability to be built into Australian products from leading inverter manufacturers, and to be enabled in other inverters through the SwitchDin Droplet.

A flexible connection will enable solar customers to export more energy by reducing exports only when the network is constrained. The trial will quantify the extra value this can create for solar customers in constrained areas compared to zero-near-zero export limits, informing the business case for DNSPs to invest in this capability.

Through providing a new solar connection option, the project will explore the end-to-end customer journey over a year of operation.

Additional impact

Customers will have greater choice, the ability to export more from their solar panels, access to cheaper energy, and improved security and quality of supply – all without costly network upgrades. Alongside other initiatives, this could double how much renewable energy the distribution network can accommodate over the next five years.

Last updated 12 May 2021

ARENAWIRE Blogs

SA Power Networks inverters promise flexible solar exports

Households with solar in constrained parts of the electricity network stand to profit from new inverter technology.

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