Australia’s new approach to integrating rooftop solar with the grid


The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has announced $2.09 million in funding to SA Power Networks to trial a new approach to integrating rooftop solar with the grid.

The 12-month field trial will test a new flexible solar connection of up to 600 rooftop solar customers in South Australia and Victoria, who live in areas where the network is currently constrained due to very high levels of rooftop solar. 

The technology will ensure Australians with rooftop solar who can’t export their surplus solar energy back to the grid due to constrained networks are able to enter the market.

SA Power Networks will deploy a new flexible connection technology that enables inverters to automatically adjust export limits every five minutes based on signals received from the distribution network.

SA Power Networks is partnering with AusNet Services and solar inverter manufacturers Fronius, SMA, and SolarEdge and energy management provider SwitchDin.

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ARENA CEO Darren Miller said the trial could lead to increased utilisation of rooftop solar generation. “The electricity distribution network has a limited capacity to accommodate reverse power flows when rooftop solar systems export surplus energy to the grid in the middle of the day.

“Currently less than 10 per cent of rooftop solar systems installed across Australia operate with smart control systems which means many people are limited by what they can export back into the grid. If the trial is successful, it should help more customers sell more of their energy into the market and benefit from cost savings on their energy bills.”

SA Power Networks general manager strategy and transformation, Mark Vincent, said this trial was one of a number of initiatives the distributor has underway to support more solar and distributed energy resources on its network.

Said Vincent: “Our target is to double the amount of solar we can accommodate on our network by 2025. We are looking at smart solutions, rather than expensive network capacity investment, to help make it happen.”