New standards imposed for rooftop solar panels to protect electricity grid

New standards imposed for rooftop solar panels to protect electricity grid

February 24, 2021

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Compulsory new technical standards will apply to future sales of rooftop solar panels as the energy market regulator warns current models, while still safe for household use, will disrupt the electricity grid as sales continue to boom.

Starting in December all new sales of solar panels and other technologies that connect to the electricity grid will have to comply with new standards to ensure household energy systems won’t ‘trip’ or disconnect when there are voltage disturbances on the network.

The energy market regulator is imposing new standards for rooftop solar panels. Credit:Glenn Hunt

The new standards will apply to inverters that convert direct current (DC) to alternating current (AC).

The Australian Energy Market Commission said a substantial proportion of Australia’s record uptake of rooftop solar and other devices had the problematic trip function.

Forecasts for ongoing uptake of rooftop solar means too many would suddenly trip off at the same time, the AEMC said.

“We need to keep pace with the change under way. Nearly three million households and
small businesses have taken up solar, and the demand for household batteries and electric
vehicles will increase over time,” said AEMC chief executive Benn Barr.

Previous models, which don’t comply with the new standards and trip when there is a voltage disturbance, are still safe to operate the AEMC said. The standards are not retrospective and there is no requirement for anyone to upgrade any of their devices.

“These new standards allow us to do two important things at once – welcome more new
technologies into the power system and at the same time help protect grid stability,” Mr Barr said.

“The more we keep the system stable, the more solar we can connect up and the faster we can

The Australian Energy Market Operator proposed the new standards to the AEMC to keep the grid stable and maintain ongoing uptake of rooftop solar.

“Consistent inverter standards are critical to mitigate known power system risks and support the continued uptake and shared community benefit from inverter-based devices, such as rooftop solar systems that account for 10 per cent of total generation capacity across the National Electricity Market,” AEMO chief member services officer Violette Mouchaileh said.

Australia deployed new renewable energy 10 times faster per capita last year compared to the global average, and four times faster per capita than Europe, China, Japan or the United States, according to the Commonwealth’s Clean Energy Regulator.

Mr Barr said Australia’s standards need to ensure “the right structures are put in place to support a whole new energy mix and a very different looking power grid than the one we’ve relied on in the past”.

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