Pioneering rooftop solar trial to benefit customers

Solar panels on roof (agl electrification)
Image: Shutterstock

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) is providing $1.02 million in funding to SA Power Networks, alongside partner retailers AGL and Simply Energy, to develop and trial the capability for retailer solar management offers to work in concert with networks’ flexible connection offers (or ‘dynamic operating envelopes’) to enable a seamless experience for customers with Consumer Energy Resources.  

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While rooftop solar is the largest generator in South Australia, most systems are not responsive to market signals. Retailers Simply Energy and AGL aim to change that with innovative offers that reward customers for enabling their solar to be responsive to wholesale energy market pricing.  

The focus of the $2.1 million project will initially be on helping inform design of the integration between these new customer offers and SA Power Networks’ Flexible Export connections for rooftop solar, which will be progressively rolled out as a standard service offering from July 2023. Combining flexible export connections with innovative retail market offers aims to maximise the opportunity for customers to participate in the market while ensuring power flows don’t exceed the technical limits of the network. In the future, there is the potential to extend this approach to support other “behind-the-meter” equipment (Consumer Energy Resources or CER), such as batteries and even electric vehicles. 

If successful, the solutions developed from the solar trial could be adopted in other states in the National Electricity Market and potentially unlock wholesale market and network benefits. 

Demand and generation flexibility offers opportunities to reduce energy costs, moderate peak and minimum demand and move energy loads to when there are high amounts of renewable energy. It can be implemented in real time in response to market signals, generation shortfalls or network constraints. 

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SA Power Networks EGM strategy and transformation Mark Vincent said, “SA Power Networks has been working across the energy sector with inverter manufacturers, solar companies, energy retailers and regulators to develop a smart way—flexible exports—to allow even more solar on our network so that everyone can benefit from the availability of cheaper daytime energy. In the longer run, we are enthusiastic about how customers can benefit from actively participating in the energy market and assist in managing the peaks and troughs of demand. This trial is a crucial step in understanding how we can take that next step.” 

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