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For over a decade, South Australians have been the world’s earliest and most enthusiastic adopters of distributed energy resources, such as rooftop solar.

To the Australian Energy Market Operator’s (AEMO’s) knowledge, South Australia is the first gigawatt-scale power system in the world to approach zero operational demand due to such high proportions of demand met by distributed energy resources.

A new technical report from AEMO identifies two key challenges associated with the high proportion of rooftop solar:

  1. Ensuring rooftop solar operates during disturbances
    There is now considerable evidence that many of the inverters which manage the power generated by solar panels will disconnect in response to voltage disturbances. AEMO has found that when South Australia is operating as an island, it is now impossible to maintain the frequency operating standard for certain credible fault events if they cause rooftop solar disconnections.
  2. Minimum demand when operating separately from the National Electricity Market
    South Australia has already experienced operational demand as low as 458 MW and this is expected to reduce further by spring 2020. If South Australia is separated from the National Electricity Market, there needs to be sufficient demand and the right combination of power generation to provide enough system security services to keep the system secure.

We are committed to the orderly transition to net-100 per cent renewable energy. This requires the right mix of interconnection, storage, generation and smart technology to balance supply and demand.

South Australians continue to show their commitment to this goal through the adoption of rooftop solar and storage. Technology change is occurring, and the appliances South Australians buy are getting smarter. Smart meters are also being rolled out to households in South Australia in accordance with rules made by the Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC).

New technical standards and requirements in South Australia

Following the advice from AEMO, a number of new technical standards and requirements are proposed to be introduced in South Australia. These proposals include the following, with further key information available on each proposal’s dedicated webpage.

  1. Voltage ride through standards for generating systems connected via an inverter in South Australia

    A proposed new technical standard for generating systems connected via low voltage power inverters to the South Australian distribution network will require that they meet ride-through standards as demonstrated by testing in accordance with testing standards in AS/NZS4777.2 and any applicable AEMO testing standard. This will contribute to ensuring new and replacement inverter connected distributed energy resources can ride through power system disturbances.

    Inverters which are approved for installation are described in the list of approved inverters (PDF 152.2 KB). Note that this list of inverters will be frequently updated.

  2. Remote disconnection and reconnection requirements for prescribed distributed generating systems in South Australia

    A proposed new technical standard will require prescribed generating systems connecting to the South Australian distribution network to be capable of being remotely disconnected and reconnected by an agent registered with the Technical Regulator. This will contribute to increasing the ability of the distribution network to host distributed energy resources and secure operation of the power system.

    This new requirement is that all new prescribed electricity generating plants are capable of being remotely disconnected, and later reconnected, by the relevant agent. The parties included in the List of relevant agents (PDF 84.3 KB) can be nominated and appointed by an owner or operator of an electricity generating plant as their relevant agent. Note that assessments of prospective relevant agents are underway and so this list will be frequently updated.

  3. Export limit requirements for prescribed distributed generating systems in South Australia

    A proposed new technical standard will require that prescribed generating systems connecting to the South Australian distribution network are capable of being export limited and for export limits to be updated remotely. This will contribute to increasing the ability of the distribution network to host distributed energy resources by avoiding scenarios where the energy exported may exceed the capacity of the local network, or where there is insufficient demand for that energy in other parts of South Australia.

  4. Smart meter minimum technical standards in South Australia

    A proposed new technical standard for smart meters will require that they must be capable of separately measuring and controlling an electricity generating plant and controllable load from essential load and must be installed in accordance with any guidelines issued by the Technical Regulator.

  5. Tariffs to incentivise energy use in low demand periods in South Australia
    A proposed new requirement on retailers operating in South Australia to provide tariff structures to customers with smart meters which incentivise electricity use in low demand periods. This will ensure retailers make offers which reward customers for using electricity in low demand periods.

Frequently asked questions

A simplified one-page fact sheet (PDF 173.8 KB) has been developed to help explain the changes to solar owners and consumers.

Consultation on regulatory changes

DEM has now considered written submissions on the Consultation on Regulatory Changes for Smarter Homes, and other feedback provided by stakeholders.

Public written submissions to this consultation closed on 10 July 2020. DEM has published a formal response (PDF 201.7 KB) to the issues raised by stakeholders.

Following consideration of the broad range of stakeholder feedback, a number of amendments have been made to the proposed package of regulatory changes that were initially covered in the five consultation papers. Further details of these amendments can be found in Recommended Regulatory Changes for Smarter Homes (PDF 185.3 KB).

Recommended regulation changes

The recommended regulation changes for smarter homes are further detailed in the draft Electricity (General) (Technical Standards) Variation Regulations (PDF 53.5 KB) and draft National Energy Retail Law (Local Provisions) (Tariff Structures) Variation Regulations (PDF 19.6 KB). The draft documents are provided for information only.

To ensure that the amended regulatory amendments are in place by the timeframes listed, a Preparatory Plan (PDF 139.9 KB) has been published to provide clarity to stakeholders on upcoming timings and the timeframes being worked towards by DEM.

Implementation steps under the plan have commenced, with further key information available on each proposal’s dedicated webpage.