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Future energy

Empowering the energy transition

A transformation is underway in how we make and use electricity, and South Australia is leading the way. The energy system is being reshaped by the rapid adoption of distributed energy resources (DER) such as solar panels, batteries and electric vehicles.  

The uptake of rooftop solar in South Australia, already among the highest in the world at more than a third of our customers, continues to grow. 

It means we are all playing a key role in meeting our State’s goal of net-100% renewable energy by 2030, and zero emissions by 2050.  

Our electricity distribution network is at the heart of this transition and SA Power Networks is developing innovative solutions to meet the changing energy needs of our customers, while ensuring the continued affordability, safety, and reliability of the electricity supply.  

We’ve set our own target to double the amount of solar on our network by 2025. We’re also preparing the network for the growing uptake of home batteries and electric vehicles, and emerging technologies like virtual power plants (VPPs) and community energy. 

You can read more about the things we’re doing now and over the next five years in our Distributed Energy Transition Roadmap. 

We are committed to helping achieve a new era of economic growth for South Australia – powered by abundant, low-cost, safe and reliable clean energy.

New technology
New technology

New technology

Understand how we're transforming the way we produce, use and manage electricity.

Projects and trials

Projects and trials

Find out how we’re using new technologies in our projects and trials.

Solar
Solar

Solar

At SA Power Networks we are working to double the amount of solar we can accommodate on our network by 2025.

Making the sun shine for all

We want customers to continue to install DER such as solar panels, and to share the benefits with the community. Some of things we’re working on include:

  • Developing smarter solar, so solar inverters can respond to what’s happening in the network. Read more
  • Investing in enhanced voltage management, to enable more exports from DER, such as solar and virtual power plants, into our network. Read more
  • Detailed monitoring and analysis of our low-voltage network to improve our understanding of the network and the interaction of DER. Read more
  • New residential Time-of-Use (‘solar sponge’) tariffs that provide cheaper daytime network charges, encouraging the use of more solar-generated energy in the middle of the day. Read more
  • Encouraging retailers to shift things like water heating to the daytime, to soak up excess (and cheaper) solar generation. Read more

Want to learn more?

See our Projects and Trials to see what we’ve been up to and what might be going on in your area.

See our Distributed Energy Transition Roadmap for an overview of our plans for the next five years.  


Definitions

The electricity system can be complicated, and so can the language we use to describe it. Here are some of the terms and acronyms you’ll find in these pages and in our documents: 

AEMO The Australian Energy Market Operator is the commonwealth body responsible for operating the National Electricity Market and for ensuring that there is always the right amount of electricity being generated to match demand.
 
Community energy  A community energy scheme is one where a local community shares the use of one or more energy resources. An example could be a grid-connected battery for a single neighbourhood, or a community microgrid where customers collaborate with their neighbours to share and trade energy between themselves from their own solar panels.
 
DER  Distributed Energy Resource: Rooftop solar systems, home batteries, electric vehicle chargers and smart home appliances are all examples of Distributed Energy Resources – small-scale resources distributed among homes and businesses that all participate in and contribute to the electricity system. 
 
Distribution network  The electricity distribution network is the physical grid infrastructure of ‘poles and wires’ that goes from the local substation down to each home or business. SA Power Networks is responsible for the distribution network in South Australia. 
 
DSO  Distribution System Operator: as the electricity system changes, our role is changing too. Instead of just looking after the physical poles, wires, substations and transformers in the network we now have to actively manage the impact of hundreds of thousands of small-scale solar systems, batteries and other distributed energy resources to keep the system stable and operating correctly as energy flows backwards and forwards through the network through the day. Our network and the systems that operate it are becoming smarter and more integrated, and we need new capabilities so the network can support new uses like virtual power plants (VPPs). Distribution System Operator is the industry term for the broader role that network businesses like SA Power Networks perform in the electricity system of the future. 
 
Electranet  Electranet is the electricity transmission network operator for South Australia. They manage the very high voltage lines and pylons that transport electricity at very high voltages. Electranet’s network delivers power to SA Power Networks’ substations, where it then flows through our distribution network to the end customer. 
 
Exported energy Exported energy, or ‘exports’, is energy fed back into the grid from a customer premises, e.g. from rooftop solar. The distribution network has a limited capacity for exports; if too much energy is fed in at once we can run into voltage problems or even blow fuses in the network. As more and more customers install solar we are working hard to increase the export capacity of the network, and to make better use of the capacity we have. 
 
Flexible exports  ‘Flexible exports’ is a new technology that enables modern smart solar inverters to have an export limit that varies according to available grid capacity instead of the traditional fixed limit of 5kW per customer. With flexible exports, solar customers can export up to 10kW without risk of causing problems with the grid, because their inverters are designed to reduce output temporarily at times when the grid is congested. This will be a key technology in enabling very high levels of solar on electricity grids around the world, and SA Power Networks will be the first distribution network to support this capability in Australia, with field trials currently underway.
 
LV network  The lines that carry electricity from our substations operate at thousands of volts. This voltage is reduced by a transformer on a pole or in a kerbside cabinet to the familiar 230V used in the home. We refer to the ‘last mile’ part of our network, from the local street transformer to the premises, as the ‘Low Voltage network’ or ‘LV network’. Managing voltage in this part of the network is the most immediate challenge we face in adapting our network to enable very high levels of rooftop solar and other DER.
 
Microgrid A microgrid is when customers in a local area share and trade energy among themselves. This can involve multiple premises behind a single connection to the main grid, like an apartment complex or university campus, or it could be completely separate from the grid in the case of a remote community. 
 
Voltage control  SA Power Networks has to control the grid voltage to make sure customers receive the Australian standard voltage of 216-253V. The advent of rooftop solar makes maintaining the correct voltage through the day more challenging, so we are investing in improving our voltage control capabilities. 
 
VPP  Virtual Power Plant: home batteries and other smart appliances can be linked together via the internet and controlled centrally to form a Virtual Power Plant. By signalling hundreds or even thousands of batteries to all charge or discharge simultaneously, a VPP operator can trade in the bulk energy market just like a traditional power plant, selling energy into the system when prices are high and sharing the value with the individual battery owners. VPPs will form an important part of the energy system of the future, and South Australia is leading the nation in their development, with more than 6,600 customers enrolled in VPP schemes in 2021, more than any other state or territory.