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Solar in South Australia Set for Shake-Up

 

Solar in South Australia is about to change a little! South Australia Power Networks (or SAPN) has announced new export options for anyone installing rooftop solar in some overcrowded areas of the power grid. This arrangement means new solar customers can choose between an export limit of up to 10kW or be restricted to exporting just 1.5kW per phase.

However, there’s a catch to choosing the ‘up to 10kW’ export option (because there’s always gotta be a catch, right?). SAPN will be able to lower the limit at their convenience, which will likely just be when the grid becomes congested and needs relief. This may or may not affect you… it all depends on how much excess solar you’re exporting. Just to give you an idea; most solar systems in South Australia and country-wide generate anywhere between 2kW and 4kW worth of excess power.

When will this happen?

SAPN are expected to introduce these new South Australian solar export options within the next few months; forming part of a trial funded by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (or ARENA). These measures have been taken to lower the risk of blackouts and equipment damage as a result of the power grid overloading.

Why are these changes happening in South Australia?

These changes have been put in place to try and help solve the issues in South Australia relating to the congestion of the power grid. The plan is to make the grid easier to manage whilst holding steady on the state’s mission to doubling its rooftop solar installations by 2025.

What if I have more excess solar than the export limit in South Australia?

In 2019, SAPN introduced a solar power export limit of 5kW per phase. This too was for those customers yet to have rooftop panels installed. So, if you’re thinking about solar at your place, or in the process of getting quotes and organising an installer, it’s important to consider your options. Basically, if you have more excess solar than the export limit, you’ll either need to:

South Australia Solar
  • Find ways to consume the excess power that you generate;
  • Invest in a solar battery storage system; or
  • Accept the fact you have excess solar power that’ll go to waste.

How many people will be affected?

What a great question! As noted at the start, only new solar customers in South Australia will be affected. SAPN has said that they are expecting less than about 2% of all new solar power systems to be affected by these changes. If you don’t do percentages, that’s 2 in 100… so they’re pretty good odds if you’re still on the fence because of this. The total number of customers expected to play a part in this trial is around 800.

Is there anything else I need to know?

We think we’ve covered it pretty well here, but if you have any questions or comments… get in touch on social media!

 

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Understanding Batteries

Off-Grid Systems

For some households a battery system can be of great benefit and minimise a home’s reliance on the grid. However, it’s important to understand for a battery to be useful your solar system needs to be generating excess energy for the battery to store, which you can then use at night or when the sun is not out.

When selecting a battery, you’ll want to invest in a system that is most suited to your home and can drive the best return on investment (ROI). Despite a larger upfront cost, a higher quality battery may significantly increase your ROI.

    Battery systems start from $6,000 and costs can vary greatly based on the following factors:

  1. Cycle Life-Time

    The number of times a battery can fully charge and discharge.

  2. Battery Power (kW)

    How fast it can be charged or discharged.

  3. Storage Capacity (kWh)

    The maximum amount of energy a battery system can store.

  4. Battery Management System (BMS)

    An electronic ‘smart’ system that gathers data and manages the battery ensuring it does not overload or operate outside of its safe functioning zone..

  5. Inverter

    Battery systems require their own inverter if your solar system does not have a hybrid inverter.

  6. 'All-In-One Unit’

    A system which includes the battery, BMS and an inverter all in one unit.

  7. Warranty

    Length of time or cycles the battery system is under guarantee.

  8. Blackout Protection/Backup

    It’s important to note this is not a common feature of a battery system and could cost thousands of dollars to include. Blackout protection not only requires additional components but also a specialised installation and rewiring. For grid-connected homes, the cost for blackout protection can outweigh the benefit.

Additionally, if your purpose for adding battery is to go Off-Grid and become completely independent from the grid you will need to ensure your solar system can generate enough energy to power your home and your battery system is large enough to store this energy. For homes in metro areas going Off-grid is not cost effective and is only recommended for those in remote areas with limited access to the grid. Off-grid solar systems with battery start at approximately $30,000.
 

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