Solar trial aims to help support more energy into the grid
The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has announced a new project that will see solar customers in South Australia and Victoria feed more energy into the grid.
With $2.09 million in funding to a consortium led by SA Power Networks to trial a new approach to integrating rooftop solar with the grid, using smart inverters.
Distributors SA Power Networks and Victorian-based AusNet Services have partnered with industry-leading inverter manufacturers, Fronius, SMA and SolarEdge, and energy management software company SwitchDin to develop the technical capability needed to offer customers flexible rather than fixed export limits for solar.
The project will develop and test end-to-end technical capability to enable flexible export limits for solar systems. The new capabilities will be built into Australian products from market-leading inverter manufacturers and will let other inverter brands through SwitchDin’s Droplet gateway device.
The testing period will go for 12 months and involve 600 customers in SA and Victorian. It aims to test the viability of this kind of arrangement and refine and develop the associated technologies and customer connection service.
Distribution networks such as South Australia’s are reaching the limit of their capacity to host rooftop solar in some areas without major investment in network upgrades. Alternatively, they may have to impose zero or very low export limits for new solar connections in congested areas.
“We want more solar, not less,” SA Power Networks manager corporate affairs Paul Roberts says.
“SA Power Networks is passionate about supporting South Australia’s energy transition and this is one of a number of initiatives we have underway that have the potential to double the amount of renewable energy the SA electricity distribution network can accommodate over the next five years.”
AusNet Services’ Andrew McConnell says that smart and flexible solar services is a win-win: “It means more Australian homes and businesses can benefit from solar panels, and that our energy mix becomes cleaner overall. AusNet Services is proud to be a key partner of this cutting-edge project that is designed to empower customers and deliver outcomes in energy affordability and reliability.”