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Flexible Exports Trial go live 23 September 2021

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SA Power Networks has been working on smart ways to meet our goal of doubling the amount of solar on our network by 2025.  

We issued a Notice to Industry in April 2021 about our plans to improve rooftop solar integration through the introduction of “Flexible Exports”.  

Rather than prohibiting solar exports in areas of the electricity network that are becoming overloaded with solar (as some other distributors have done), we are introducing a world-leading Flexible Exports option. Flexible Exports will be offered to all new and upgrading solar customers in overloaded areas as an alternative to the 1.5kW fixed export limit that will apply in these areas. 

Flexible Exports will allow compatible smart inverters to access a variable export limit between 1.5kW and 10kW per phase, that automatically adjusts to the export capacity of the local network throughout the day. 

This new connection offering will initially be offered as part of a 12-month trial, which we are pleased to confirm will start on 23 September 2021.  

There is no change for new or upgrading customers who are not in an overloaded area, nor for existing solar customers. 

At this stage, Flexible Exports will only be offered to new or upgrading solar customers in overloaded areas.  

This Notice to Industry explains in more detail how the trial will work and answers several key questions:  

  • Which areas are affected? 
  • How do I identify who can participate in the trial? 
  • What exports can customers expect? 
  • What compatible equipment is available? 
  • How will this trial gather feedback? 
  • What happens after the trial? 
  • How do I register for the upcoming webinars? 
  • Where can I find more information? 

Which areas are affected? 

Flexible Exports will initially be offered as part of a 12-month trial, aimed at accelerating the availability of this option as an alternative to a 1.5kW fixed limit in overloaded areas. We are prioritising the introduction of these new connection options in the most congested parts of our network, starting with new and upgrading solar customers served by the Sheidow Park substation.    

This network area includes parts of Hallett Cove, Sheidow Park, Trott Park, Reynella, Old Reynella, Reynella East, O’Halloran Hill and Happy Valley. Because overloaded areas are classified by their network connectivity, only certain properties within these suburbs will be affected by these changes. We anticipate that fewer than 2% of solar connection applications in the next 12 months will be from this area. 

From 23 September 2021, new or upgrading solar customers in overloaded areas will be offered a choice of the new Flexible Exports connection option or the 1.5kW fixed export limit. 

How do I identify who can participate in the trial? 

Members of the solar industry will be able to accurately identify which residences are in overloaded areas and will be offered the Flexible Export option using our new SmartApply application. This can be found within the new Embedded Generation Portal at the small embedded generation page on our website and only requires the customer NMI and meter number. The search function will be available from the introduction of these new connection options on 23 September 2021.  

If you’re already talking to potential solar customers in these areas, please contact us on 13 12 61 during office hours to discuss whether or not they live in an area that will allow them to participate in the trial. 

What exports can customers expect? 

Customers on Flexible Exports will receive an export limit that will vary between 1.5kW and 10kW per phase throughout the day based on the available network capacity in their area. 

A fixed export limit option of 1.5kW per phase will be available for customers who do not wish to take up the Flexible Exports option. 

Based on network conditions experienced over the past 12 months, the Flexible Export option will allow customers the opportunity to export 10kW for 98% of the time. 

This is indicative only, and the export limits customers receive will vary based on factors such as their location on the network. One of the key objectives of the trial is to measure export limit performance so more accurate guidance can be provided when Flexible Exports is offered as a standard connection option. 

In the event of an internet outage, a customers’ inverter will fall back to a 1.5kW export limit. Ensuring your customer establishes and maintains a reliable internet connection will maximise the benefits they receive.  

What compatible equipment is available? 

Flexible Exports is enabled by modern internet-connected smart solar inverters that can regularly receive export limit updates from SA Power Networks via the internet. 

SA Power Networks has partnered with industry-leading inverter manufacturers and energy management solution providers to develop the technical capabilities for Flexible Exports.  

We are in the early stages of this new technology, and Flexible Exports is a world-first. Initially, the technology available will be the Fronius SnapINverter Primo series and the GroWatt MIN-TLX series, both paired with a SwitchDin Droplet gateway.   

We are actively working with technology providers to enable more compatible equipment, and the technology offering will steadily increase over the course of the trial as new technologies are tested and made available.  

Fronius and SMA are working towards providing “native” inverter software which is expected to become available on the market by early 2022. This means the inverters will have built in capability to enable flexible exports and so will not require a SwitchDin Droplet. Please refer to the compatible technology page on our website for up-to-date information on compatible inverters and those that will be available soon. 

Customers selecting the fixed 1.5kW export option will be able to utilise any inverter already on the market which supports static export limiting. 

How will this trial gather feedback? 

During the trial, we will endeavour to ensure trial customers get the most out of Flexible Exports. All customers who sign up for Flexible Exports will be contacted by SA Power Networks, welcoming them to the trial and offering them the chance to take part in our trial feedback research. Customers choosing to participate in the research will receive a voucher in recognition of their willingness to provide feedback. 

We will also be gathering feedback from the solar industry throughout the trial. We will be in touch to seek your feedback on these new connection options and how we can make this transition easier for the solar industry.  

What happens after the trial? 

SA Power Networks plans to make Flexible Exports a standard service offering following completion of the trial. 

The Government of South Australia has announced new regulations that require all new exporting generation systems to be capable of remotely updating their export limits from 1 July 2022. These regulatory changes will mean that all exporting systems installed after this date will be able to enrol in SA Power Networks’ Flexible Exports connection option as it becomes available. 

How do I register for a webinar? 

We have been running a series of free industry webinars to provide more detail on Flexible Exports and answer questions in an interactive Q&A session. Visit here to watch the recordings as they become available. 

Upcoming webinar: 

Tuesday 14 September, 4pm-5pm 

SwitchDin Flexible Exports product training’ 

Our trial partner SwitchDin will provide this training, which will cover: 

  • Information on the Droplet (gateway device) installation for Flexible Exports  
  • Hints, tips and techniques on wiring, commissioning and how to get support 
  • Information on the development of additional inverters for including in the Flexible Exports trial 

To register for SwitchDin webinar, click here. 

Register Now Button

Where can I find more information? 

More information, FAQs, videos and infographics on Flexible Exports are available on our website: 

For assistance with the new Embedded Generation Portal please visit our ‘How-to guides’ on SmartApply and SmartInstall. 

Call us on 13 12 61 or email  newenergyservices@sapowernetworks.com.au 

 

Related articles 

Flexible Exports Notice to Industry (April 2021) 

Flexible Exports Trial Announcement (October 2020)

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