Information for Industry - Emergency Solar Management

Information for installers on how to meet the requirements for Emergency Solar Management (previously referred-to as DPV Management), which will apply to new and upgraded rooftop solar installations from 14 February 2022.

From 14 February 2022, all new and upgraded solar photovoltaic (PV ) systems with an inverter capacity of 5kW or less need to be capable of being remotely turned down or off in emergency situations.

New and upgraded solar systems with an inverter capacity above 5kW will need to be export limited to either 1.5kW or 5% of inverter capacity (whichever is the greater of the two).

On 28 September 2021, AEMO released its Renewable Energy Integration - SWIS Update report. The report highlighted the substantial acceleration of Solar PV uptake in recent years, and identifies priority actions needed to manage the power system.

The new requirements are outlined in Western Power’s Embedded Generator Connection Technical Requirements.

There are currently two ways that this requirement can be met to allow the lowest cost outcome for consumers. In the first instance, the methods available are

  1. API cloud control, which involves direct communication to the inverter over the internet via API control (requires household internet), or

  2. metering solution, which involves wiring up the system so that it can be disconnected at the meter (a dual element meter).

For most systems, particularly where there is household internet,  the API cloud control solution will be lowest cost. 

For a limited number of metering configurations, meeting the requirements for Emergency Solar Management may be costly and impractical. For these situations, systems must be export limited to 1.5kW to be approved for grid connection. However, exports from these systems will not be eligible for buyback payments through the Distributed Energy Buyback Scheme (DEBS).  The option to export limit to 1.5kW (and not receive DEBS, if otherwise applicable) is available to all customers.

In future, there will also be the option of installing a ‘gateway’ box that can send instructions directly to an inverter to turn down, without the need for a home internet connection.

Synergy will have a key role in supporting installers by providing information on compliant options for Emergency Solar Management, and on how to meet these requirements. Information can be found on their website. Installers should register with Synergy to receive updates.

Support for installers on metering solutions is provided by Western Power. Further information on metering solutions and instances where it may not be cost-efficient to meet the requirements for Emergency Solar Management can be found at Western Power’s website at:

https://www.westernpower.com.au/industry/industry-news/emergency-solar-management/.

Systems installed prior to 14 February do not need to comply with these requirements1

Installers wishing to provide more information can direct customers here. There is also a Household Fact Sheet that installers can print off and provide to households explaining the policy. Further information for consumers can be found on Synergy’s website at www.synergy.net.au/global/dpv-management

Synergy will also engage directly with its customers, and will provide communications on low load events.

[1] A grace period has been provided for systems where the application for connection was made prior to 14 February 2022, and the system is installed before 14 March 2022. These systems do not need to comply with requirements for DPV management.

What are the new requirements?

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All new and upgraded systems will now need to meet Emergency Solar Management requirements.

This means they must be able to be managed remotely, enabling them to be turned off or down in response to a signal from Synergy, when the Australian Energy Market Operator requires a response to help prevent power system emergencies.

Synergy will provide information and support for installers on how to ensure installations meet these new requirements. More information is provided here. The full requirements are specified in the Western Power Basic Embedded Generator Connection Technical Requirements.

Western Power will update its website portal from 14-15 February, with applications reflecting the new Emergency Solar Management requirements able to be submitted via the portal from 16 February.

A short grace period has been provided for applications made prior to 14 February 2022 – installations for these systems must be completed by 14 March 2022. 

What technology solutions are being used to meet requirements?

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Under the requirements for Emergency Solar Management, new and upgraded systems (with inverter capacity of 5kW and below) must have the ability to be remotely disconnect from and reconnect to the grid.

There are currently two ways to remotely manage and turn off residential rooftop solar systems with an inverter capacity of 5kVA or less. 

The API cloud solution uses a software integration - an API (Application Programming Interface) to remotely manage rooftop solar systems. This solution requires installing a compatible inverter and maintaining a consistent internet service that the inverter is connected to.  Synergy has contracted with technology provider Greensync to streamline this process.

The metering solution requires a meter with Western Power’s in-built communications capability enabled and the inverter isolated so that it can be remotely managed.

For most households, the API cloud solution is likely to be the simplest, least cost and provide the best long-term capability for future participation opportunities. 

In future, there may also be the option for installing a ‘gateway’ box that can send instructions directly to an inverter, without the requirement for a customer internet connection.  The approved solutions align with the those applied in South Australia through its Smarter Homes regulatory changes, which enable a mechanism similar to Emergency Solar Management.  

Technology that provides the flexibility to turn rooftop solar output down, rather than just switch it off, is preferred, as it paves the way for more options for customers and future participation in virtual power plants.


How is Synergy supporting installers?

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Synergy is working closely with installers to make sure that they have all the information that they need to explain the requirements to consumers.

Synergy is providing installers with all the information they need on how to install in accordance with the new requirements. Information can be found on their website at https://www.synergy.net.au/global/ESM-solar-industry. Installers can register for updates from Synergy here.

Western Power has developed a Validation Procedure that Synergy will  use to demonstrate compliance. This will involve performing remote testing on all participating systems, where possible at times of low solar production to minimise the impact on consumers. Synergy will work with installers to ensure technical requirements are met and that newly installed systems can be validated.

How does this approach differ to South Australia's?

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South Australia introduced similar capabilities to Emergency Solar Management through its Smarter Homes regulatory package in 2020.

Our approach to Emergency Solar Management has adapted the South Australian approach, and ensures arrangements here are suitable for Western Australian installers and customers. 

The technology requirements to implement Emergency Solar Management in Western Power’s network closely align with those used in South Australia.

The choice of installation methods will assist households meet the requirements in the lowest cost way and choose the solution that best meets their needs. 

In South Australia, ‘enhanced voltage management’ (where the voltage on feeders is increased to trip off all solar systems) was added as an option to manage low load. This approach is not currently included in these requirements, and existing solar customers will not be impacted.

What happens if a customer adds a battery?

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If a customer is adding a battery to an existing rooftop solar system without changing it, then the rooftop solar system will not be required to meet the new emergency solar management requirements. However, the battery system must comply with Western Power’s Basic Embedded Generation Connection Technical Requirements.

The relevant system capacity and export limits, including with a Battery Energy Storage System (BESS), are outlined in the table below (see the Western Power Basic Embedded Generator Connection Technical Requirements for further information).

Connection service

Basic EG system phase

Maximum basic EG system capacity

 

Export limit (3)(4)

Single energy source
(i.e. no BESS)

DC coupled with BESS(1)

AC coupled with BESS(2)

Single-phase

Single-phase

5 kVA

5 kVA

5 kVA PV (or other energy source IES) and 5 kVA BESS IES

5 kW

Three-phase

Single-phase

3 kVA

5 kVA

3 kVA PV (or other energy source IES) and 5 kVA BESS IES

5 kW

Three-phase

Three-phase

15 kVA

15 kVA

15 kVA PV (or other energy source IES) and 15 kVA BESS IES

(up to 5 kVA per phase)

1.5 kW Except where PV (or other energy source IES) capacity ≤ 5kVA then 5 kW export limit

 

1. DC coupled refers to multiple energy sources (including Energy Storage systems) into the DC side of a single inverter.

2. AC coupled refers to systems with multiple inverters for various energy sources (commonly PV) and energy storage systems. AC coupled systems may also have generation limit control requirements.

3. For systems where export limit is equal to or greater than the system capacity no control based on external measurement is required.

4. Where a User does not have an off-take agreement with their energy retailer their basic EG system shall have an export limit setting of no more than 1.5 kW in total

What if a customer needs to replace part of their solar system under warranty?

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Product replacements undertaken under warranty will not automatically trigger the requirement for the rooftop solar system to be remotely managed, providing the inverter remains the same capacity and complies with Australian Standard AS4777.2.

If a ‘like-for-like’ inverter replacement (i.e. the same make, model, and capacity) is not possible, or the capacity of the inverter is increased, a new application is required and the new system will need to comply with the new requirements for Emergency Solar Management.

What are the export limits?

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Solar inverters with a capacity of 5kVA and less will be subject to a 5kW export limit – this is also the maximum export allowed under the Distributed Energy Buyback Scheme.

Systems larger than 5kVA will be subject to an export limit of 1.5kW, unless there is an off-take agreement with the customer’s retailer. This is considered the lowest practical limit from a technical perspective, to ensure these systems are right-sized for customer self-consumption and limit their contribution to low load events.

These changes will enable households to install larger systems for self-consumption with an improved, streamlined connection process.

In the longer-term, when aggregation of customer devices (being piloted through Project Symphony) is rolled out, households with larger systems will be able to benefit from participation in virtual power plants.

The export limits can be found in Western Power’s Basic Embedded Generator Connection Technical Requirements and are summarised in the table below.

Connection service

Basic EG system phase

Maximum basic EG system capacity

 

Export limit (3)(4)

Single energy source
(i.e. no BESS)

DC coupled with BESS(1)

AC coupled with BESS(2)

Single-phase

Single-phase

5 kVA

5 kVA

5 kVA PV (or other energy source IES) and 5 kVA BESS IES

5 kW

Three-phase

Single-phase

3 kVA

5 kVA

3 kVA PV (or other energy source IES) and 5 kVA BESS IES

5 kW

Three-phase

Three-phase

15 kVA

15 kVA

15 kVA PV (or other energy source IES) and 15 kVA BESS IES

(up to 5 kVA per phase)

1.5 kW Except where PV (or other energy source IES) capacity ≤ 5kVA then 5 kW export limit

 

1. DC coupled refers to multiple energy sources (including Energy Storage systems) into the DC side of a single inverter.

2. AC coupled refers to systems with multiple inverters for various energy sources (commonly PV) and energy storage systems. AC coupled systems may also have generation limit control requirements.

3. For systems where export limit is equal to or greater than the system capacity no control based on external measurement is required.

4. Where a User does not have an off-take agreement with their energy retailer their basic EG system shall have an export limit setting of no more than 1.5 kW in total

Page reviewed 15 February 2022