Frequently asked questions
South Australia is leading the world in solar uptake, and SA Power Networks wants to support even more solar on our network. To do this, we need smarter interaction between solar systems and the electricity network.
Our distribution network was built many years before solar, and reverse power flows from solar are now starting to exceed the ‘hosting capacity’ of parts of the network, especially on mild Spring days. This lowers the performance of customers’ solar systems, and causes voltage issues, including for non-solar customers, in some areas with a lot of rooftop solar. It is also starting to exceed the reverse power ratings of some of our major plant at some substations.
Flexible Exports is one of many initiatives designed to support the continued growth of solar, and it is an option that we have been developing with customers, the solar industry, government and technical bodies for some time now. It will allow smart solar systems to respond to times when the network is congested, while enabling greater export limits the rest of the time.
SA Government has announced new regulations that require all new exporting generation systems to be dynamic exports capable from July 2022 for the same reasons. This is aligned with SA Power Networks plans to introduce Flexible Exports as a standard connection option once the trial is complete.
For most customers there will be no change. The proposal does not affect existing solar customers or those upgrading their systems to a part of the network that is not overloaded. New and upgrading solar customers in areas identified as overloaded (we estimate less than 2% of applications will be affected) in the first 12 months) will be given a choice between a fixed export limit of 1.5kW per phase or Flexible Exports.
A flexible limit that varies from 1.5kW-10kW will, by definition, provide more benefits than a low, all-year-round fixed limit of 1.5KW.
One of the key objectives of the trial is to measure the benefits of participating in Flexible Exports which will vary based on the customer’s location (on the network). Initial analysis shows that for a typical residential customer, the Flexible Export limit will be at 10kW for majority of the year, only limited below this value for 2% of daylight hours (approximately 50 hours).
In the event of an internet outage, a customer’s 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.
To understand the specific performance of their system, solar customers will need to refer to the solar yield estimates provided by their solar retailer or installer.
Before you talk to a new or upgrading solar customer, you will need to check if they are in an overloaded area and required to select between a new fixed or flexible connection option. From 23 September 2021, you will be able to use the new Export Options check (available within the existing SmartApply form) by entering the customer’s NMI and meter number.
If the customer is not connecting to an overloaded part of the network, you will be able to proceed with the application process as usual. If the Export Options check shows that they are connecting to an overloaded part of the network, they will have the option of selecting a fixed export limit of 1.5kW per phase or Flexible Exports.
Once you select the chosen option, the SmartApply form will guide you through next steps, including showing you a list of compatible inverters if you select Flexible Exports.
If your customer opts for the Flexible Exports option, you will need to use one of the selected smart solar systems that are compatible with Flexible Exports. These will be listed in the SmartApply form.
Click here to view the current list of compatible inverters and those coming soon in the trial
If your customer opts for the lower fixed export limit, they will need an approved export-limiting device or configuration for their inverter.
We are keen to work with interested technology providers to increase offering during the trial, and beyond. If you have a technology provider you typically use, please reach out to them, and let them know to get in touch with us.
Refer to the Manufacturer’s guide to understand the commissioning process. Remember to close out the installation in SmartInstall once installed. These guides can be found linked from the compatible equipment page here.
When approval is sent through, you will also receive this information in the instruction email which is to be forward to installers.
Flexible Exports will be offered in the most congested parts of our network areas, which 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. Our new Connection Checker (available as part of the standard SEG form) will allow you to check the NMI/meter of your customer and see if they are in the overloaded area before talking to them or making an application.
The Flexible Exports option will be available to new and upgrading solar customers who are connecting to significantly overloaded parts of the network from 23 September 2021. Further details are available in Notice to Industry After completion of the trial, we are planning to make Flexible Exports a standard connection offer for all new and upgrading customers. To keep yourself updated with this new connection option during and after the Flexible Exports Trial, we encourage you to sign up for email updates.
Once you have used the SmartApply form’s Export options check to confirm eligibility, talk to your customer about the new connection options – Fixed Exports vs Flexible Exports – and find out which option they prefer. You can use this infographic and video prepared for customers to help explain about the Flexible Exports. You can then make the appropriate selection in the SEG form once you make an application.
If the customer is not able to provide reliable internet access, you can recommend a compatible technology that includes its own means of communication or select the fixed export option.
As part of the South Australian Government’s Smarter Homes Regulations, applicable from 28 September 2020, all new and upgrading solar systems with exporting capability need to have remote disconnection and connection functionality, and so internet access is already required for most installations.
Flexible Exports relies on solar inverters that are connected to the reliable internet, which receive export limits from SA Power Networks regularly via the internet. This allows export limits to be matched to the network capacity at each location. If an internet connection fails, the solar system will ramp back down to a level of export that is sustainable for the network until the internet connection comes back online. Therefore, it is highly recommended to consider this with the customer when making decisions around the method of internet connection e.g. WIFI vs. hardwire.
If you are installing a new battery only or upgrading by only adding a battery, there will be no change to your export limit, and Flexible Exports does not apply even when you are in the overloaded areas. If you are upgrading or installing a new battery and PV, then you will need to choose between the fixed 1.5kW or the flexible (1.5kW to 10kW) export limits per phase.
Medium Embedded Generators, those that are between 30kW and 200kW in size, will continue to be assessed on a case-by-case basis.
Following completion of the trial, we plan to launch Flexible Exports 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.
Where do I go for more information?
More details on this new connection option will be made available before, during and after the Flexible Exports Trial. The best way to keep yourself updated is by signing up to future Notices to Industry using the form below.