In the last 10 years, there has been a massive uptake in solar and the trend is set to continue. Over a third of South Australian households now have panels on their roofs and commercial solar is increasing every year – an amazing achievement and one that makes SA the first large-scale power system in the world to approach zero net operational energy demand.
Because of South Australia’s high uptake of solar (our combined roof-top solar systems can generate the same amount of electricity as several coal-fired power stations), there are times during spring and summer when the state is producing more electricity from solar than it needs. Unfortunately, if not managed well, this can cause problems such as blackouts.
To help ensure the stability of the network and avoid widespread power outages, the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) has recommended a series of initiatives that are being executed through the SA Government’s Smarter Homes program.
Most of the Smarter Homes requirements will start from 28th September 2020. Not all details are available to date and SA Department for Energy and Mining are still in consultation with authorities such as Clean Energy Council, SA Power Networks and solar companies including Suntrix.
Whilst we are still waiting for clarity on some areas, this is what we do know….
What happens after September 28?
All new solar system (with some exceptions) must use inverters that meet new voltage ride-through requirements.
A list of inverters that meet these requirements will be published within the next week. Suntrix only use high quality, well known inverters and we have been assured by most of our suppliers that they are able to meet the requirements for voltage ride-through. This means Suntrix will be able to install solar systems using some of our standard inverters after the 28th September deadline – business as usual!
All new solar systems (with some exceptions) must be connected to the internet
If you don’t have internet access at your house or business, Suntrix can provide internet access for your inverter to ensure you meet this requirement.
All new solar systems (with some exceptions) must be able to support remote disconnection and re-connection by an ‘Agent’ that is enlisted by the solar system owner
It is understood that if a solar system needs to be disconnected, it would only occur as a ‘last resort’, as SAPN’s planned voltage management upgrades are expected to better manage load and supply outside of a crisis situation.
SA Government will be providing a list of eligible Agents in the coming weeks. We will also receive more information as to how new solar users can enlist an Agent to look after their system. At this stage we don’t know if there will be any costs associated with enlisting an Agent, however it is not anticipated the costs will be high.
Each system will need some hardware and/or software component to give the Agent the ability to reconnect/disconnect the system. There are a number of options being considered at this stage and we are unsure of the additional costs, if any, that might occur to allow this.
Will this affect me if I already have solar?
The new requirements and ability to disconnect systems are only relevant for new or upgraded systems installed after 28th September 2020.
What if I need to upgrade the inverter on my existing system?
The new requirements are applicable if you are replacing or upgrading your inverter that is OUT of warranty. If you need to replace an inverter under warranty and it is like-for-like, you do not need to comply with the new requirements
Will the price of solar systems go up?
The price for a standard Suntrix solar system will not change after 28th September however we may need to include additional charges to accommodate the following requirements – these charges may come through Suntrix or another provider:
- replacement of your electricity meter
- installation of additional hardware/software to allow connection to your system by an Agent
- nominal annual fee to an Agent to manage the connection to your system
- installation of internet access at your property
We understand this level of uncertainty makes it difficult to calculate your solar returns. Suntrix is investigating a flat-fee, no-risk price for solar to cover any extra costs you may experience as part of the new requirement.
When will we get more information about costs?
The SA government are releasing new information regularly and we will continue to update these FAQs as more details become available. Even with any additional charges, we are very confident that going solar is still worthwhile, both from a financial and environmental viewpoint.
How likely is it that my system will get turned off?
Not a high likelihood from what the State Government has released to date. The government are keen to stress that it will only occur in rare circumstances and in situations when not doing so would compromise the security of the grid and result in a statewide black-out.