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Solar energy

Empowering more solar

South Australia is leading the world in clean energy technologies such as rooftop solar and home batteries.  

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

A new solar connection option

Solar has been so popular in South Australia that some parts of the electricity distribution network can be overloaded by solar exports at certain times when energy demand is low (e.g. mild, sunny days in spring). That can cause voltage issues for all customers and it can mean solar customers’ inverters trip off or ramp down.

We already have many initiatives underway (see projects and trials) to accommodate more solar on our network. One of these is our innovative new Flexible Exports option that provides better management of solar energy throughout the day. It uses smart inverters to make the most of the available capacity of the network to accommodate solar exports from our customers. Flexible Exports is only one part of our long-term plan to enable the distributed energy transition.

See our infographic and watch our video below to learn more.


 

Flexible Exports for Customers video transcript  (PDF 679KB).


How do Flexible Exports work?

For most of the time Flexible Exports will allow customers to export the maximum amount that the network and their inverter can handle – between 1.5kW up to 10kW per phase. Smart, internet-connected solar systems will receive flexible export limit updates via the internet, based on network capacity at their location. The system will then adjust exports accordingly.

During limited periods, export limits will be lowered to avoid overloading the network.

The Flexible Exports option is for new solar connections and upgrades within overloaded parts of the network and will be offered initially in areas served by the Sheidow Park substation, including parts of Hallett Cove, Sheidow Park, Trott Park, Reynella, Old Reynella, Reynella East, O’Halloran Hill and Happy Valley from 23 September 2021, and more into the future.

New and upgrading solar customers who are connecting to these significantly overloaded parts of the network will be offered a choice of either a fixed export limit (1.5kW per phase) or the Flexible Export option (1.5kW to 10kW per phase).

Analysis shows the flexible export limits will typically be 10kW for 98% of the time. Outcomes will vary with the location of the customer and the reliability of their internet connection.


What are the benefits of Flexible Exports?

There are three key benefits of Flexible Exports, which will help to:

  • maximise the number of customers able to install and benefit from solar
  • maintain a safe, reliable and affordable electricity supply
  • support achievement of South Australia's renewable energy goals.

When will it be offered?

SA Power Networks is running a world-leading ARENA-funded 12 month trial in collaboration with leading inverter manufacturers and technology companies from 23 September 2021. We’re working with solar sellers, installers and many others in the industry before, during and after the trial to ensure success.

Flexible Exports will be offered at first to new and upgrading solar customers who are connecting to significantly overloaded parts of the network served by the Sheidow Park substation. This area initially includes parts of Hallett Cove, Sheidow Park, Trott Park, Reynella, Old Reynella, Reynella East, O’Halloran Hill and Happy Valley, and more into the future. Your installer will be able to tell you if you are eligible. Following the trial, we are planning to provide Flexible Exports as a standard connection option for other new and upgrading solar customers.

Read more about the trial


 

FAQs

Flexible Exports will be offered via solar installers to any customers located in particular overloaded areas of the network who are purchasing residential rooftop solar for the first time or upgrading their solar equipment. This overloaded areas of the network initially includes areas served by the Sheidow Park substation, including  parts of Hallett Cove, Sheidow Park, Trott Park, Reynella, Old Reynella, Reynella East, O’Halloran Hill and Happy Valley, and more into the future.

Customers will be able to opt in for Flexible Exports as an alternative to reduced fixed export limits, provided they select equipment that is listed as compatible with the Flexible Exports option. Your solar installer will let you know if you are being offered this new connection option based on your location. We anticipate this will affect less than 2% of solar applications in the first year.

Following the trial, we plan to offer Flexible Exports to all new and upgrading solar customers as a standard service offering. In the unlikely event Flexible Exports not proceeding, customers already on this option will be revert to the fixed export limit of 5kW per phase.  

At this stage, Flexible Exports will only be offered to customers in selected overloaded areas looking to connect new solar to the network, or those who are making significant upgrades or changes to their solar systems. For existing solar customers, your current arrangements will not change unless or until you want to upgrade your system and you’re in an overloaded area of the network.

Speak to your solar installer – they can help you to understand your options.

No, you don’t have to opt-in for Flexible Exports. If you are living in an overloaded area  you can still install your solar system with a fixed limit of 1.5kW per phase. 

You will need to purchase compatible technology. A variety of products are compatible with Flexible Exports. Your solar installer will advise on compatible equipment when they discuss the options with you and make an application on your behalf.

In the event of an internet outage, the solar exports will ramp back down to 1.5kW until the internet connection comes back online. Ensuring to set up and maintain a reliable internet connection will maximise the benefits you receive. Your solar installer will advise on the best method of internet connection when they discuss the options with you.

A flexible limit that varies from 1.5kW-10kW per phase will, by definition, provide more benefits than a low, all-year around fixed limit of 1.5kW per phase. 

Analysis shows the flexible export limits typically be 10kW for 98% of the time. Outcomes will vary with the location of the customer and the reliability of your internet connection. 

Your solar installer will help you work out the most cost-efficient solution from the range of options and equipment available. 

From 23 September 2021, new and upgrading solar customers connecting to significantly overloaded parts of the network will be offered a choice between a lower fixed limit and Flexible Exports. We are planning on making Flexible Exports a standard connection offering for other customers after the completion of the trial.

Medium Embedded Generators, those that are between 30kW and 200kW in size, will continue to be assessed on a case-by-case basis