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Solar flexible exports trial

Is your solar export limited to below 3kW? Join our trial to export your excess power and help shape the future of Victoria’s electricity network. 

By taking part in the trial, AusNet customers who currently have restricted export limits may be able receive up to 5kW flexible exports.

 

Expression of interest now open

We’re seeking expressions of interest from residential solar customers to take part in a 12 month trial. To be eligible, you must:

  • be an AusNet customer with an export limit of less than 3kW on your solar installation. See the 'How do I find out my export limit?' FAQ below
  • install a compatible inverter from FroniusGroWattFimer or SMA, and a SwitchDin Droplet export limiting device. See the 'Which inverters are compatible with the trial? FAQ
  • have an internet connection, and
  • intend to complete your solar installation by the end of March 2022 (exemptions may apply for installation delays caused by COVID restrictions).

 

 Applications are open to customers or solar installers.

 

To submit your trial application, please complete the form below:

About the Trial

After a record-breaking number of installations in 2020, 1 in 4 Australian homes now have rooftop solar. The energy being generated by this rapid uptake is placing stress on the network and an increasing number of customers are having their solar exporting capacity limited.

By taking part in this trial, AusNet customers who currently have zero, or near zero, export limits may be able to receive up to 5kW in flexible exports. 

 

Supporting two-way distribution

The electricity network was designed over 100 years ago. It was built for a one-way flow to transport power into homes and businesses. Rooftop solar exports force a two-way flow which puts stress on the network and causes congestion. To keep our network stable, some customers in congested areas now have low or zero solar export limits.

Flexible exports may provide an alternative to these restrictions.

 

What are flexible exports?

Flexible exports are an alternative to fixed exports, which limit the amount of excess solar that you can export to the grid. Solar flexible exports allow network operators like us to monitor and adjust rooftop solar exports in real time. This method provides more opportunity for Victorian solar customers to export their excess solar without putting pressure on the network.

 

How does the trial work?

The solar flexible exports trial will allow participating households to export up to 5kW of excess solar energy to the grid. Using smart solar inverters, we'll balance your exports against local network supply and demand. By doing this, we can begin to reduce excess strain on the network.

We’re partnering with SA Power Networks to trial this approach with partial funding from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA).

 

Contact us to find out more 

If you're having trouble submitting your EOI or have questions about the trial, please email flexible_exports_trial@ausnetservices.com.au or call 0460 284 109.

 

Frequently asked questions

  • Why should I join this trial?
    By participating in this trial, customers will:
    •    begin to subsidise their energy costs by exporting excess solar
    •    give all Victorians the opportunity to export their excess solar
    •    support increasing renewable energy in the grid
    •    contribute to the future of the electricity network in Victoria.

  • Why can't everyone export excess solar to the grid?
    If every home with rooftop solar exports at the same time on a sunny day, it could overload the network. An overloaded network can result in blackouts and outages that affect all customers. To avoid this, some distribution networks impose limits on how much excess solar customers can export.
    Export limits, also known as fixed exports, are assigned on a ‘first come, first served’ approach. This means that as more customers install solar, there is less opportunity for new customers to export. In some cases, two customers who install solar within months of each other may be allocated different export limits.
    By trialling flexible exports, we’re helping to create a future where everyone can experience the benefits of rooftop solar.

  • Why haven’t I been accepted into the trial when I have a low or zero solar export limit?

    Participants for this trial need to meet certain criteria to ensure we get the most accurate results. Participants must:
    •    meet network capacity requirements (as determined by our technicians)
    •    install a compatible inverter from Fronius, GroWatt, Fimer or SMA which allows SwitchDin Droplet as the export controller device, or a Fronius Gen24 inverter
    •    have an internet connection
    •    finish installing rooftop solar by March 2022.

    If you were not selected to participate, it means your home doesn’t meet one or more of these criteria.

  • Why was I assessed as unable to export but can now participate in flexible exports?
    The solar flexible exports trial is designed to give customers like you the chance to export their excess solar.
    The current system of allocating export limits is based on static information. If network engineers know an area has a certain capacity, new customers will be allocated a limit based on that data. Flexible export uses live network data to determine network capacity at any given time. With real-time information, we can prompt inverters at participating homes to export up to the available capacity.
  • How do I find out my export limit?

    You can find your export limit via our Solar and Battery Connection Tool.

    You'll need:

    • your National Meter Identifier (NMI) - this is the 10- or 11-digit number on your power bill, and
    • the meter number of the meter you plan to connect the system to - this is the 7 to 12-digit number you can find on your meter or your power bill.
  • Which inverters are compatible with the Trial?

    Not all inverters have been confirmed as eligible for this trial. Testing has been completed on some inverters, while others are still under development. You can install any inverter you prefer. However, if you install an inverter that is not marked as ‘available now’ in the table below, you may not be eligible to participate in the trial unless your inverter becomes compatible by March 2022.

    The following inverters are approved for use in the flexible exports trial:

     Make Model  Capacity
    (kW) 
    # Phase  Meter Flexible Connection Compatibility with trial 
     Fronius  Primo 
    (Snap Inverter)
     3.0, 3.5, 3.6, 4.0, 5.0, 6.0, 8.2  1 Fronius Smart Meter 63A-1
    Fronius Smar Meter 63A-3
    Fronius Smart Meter 50kA-3
    Fonius Smart Meter UL 240 V-3
    Fronius Smart Meter UL 408 V-3
     SwitchDin Droplet  Available now
     GroWatt  MIN TL-X  2.5, 3.0, 3.6, 4.2  1 Eastron SDM230-Modbus
    Eastron SDM630-Modbus
    SwitchDin Droplet   Available now
     ABB/Fimer  UNO-DM 1.2, 6.0 1 Eastron SDM230-Modbus SwitchDin Droplet Available now
     SMA  Sunny Boy AV-1 3.0 - 6.0 1

    SMA Energy Meter
    Eastron SDM230-Modbus
    Eastron SDM630-Modbus

    SwitchDin Droplet Available now

    Compatible Equipment - coming soon 

    Make Model Capacity
    (kW)
    # Phase Meter Flexible Connection Compatibility with trial
     Fronius Primo Gen 24+  3.0 - 6.0 1 TBC* Built into converter January 2022
     SMA Sunny Boy and TriPower  3.0 - 10.0 1-3 TBC* Built into converter
    TBC*

    *TBC = meter connections are currently in testing. 

  • I’m an installer, how can I get my customers onto the trial?
    You’ll be able to submit an expression of interest on behalf of your customers. If you have a large number of customers with zero or low export, and want them assessed, contact us directly by emailing flexible_exports_trial@ausnetservices.com.au or calling 0460 284 109.

    Note: To be accepted into the trial, an approved solar installation must be completed by March 2022.

    Manual assessment: Customers can still request a manual assessment even if they're ineligible for the trial and the pre-approved export limit is restricted..
  • I’m an installer, how do I know if my customer is eligible?

    Ideally, eligible customers will be:

    • residential, single-phase (non SWER) solar customers on the AusNet distribution network
    • limited to less than 3kW export limit. You can check a customer’s export limit using our Solar and Battery Connection Tool. You'll need the customer's NMI and meter number
    • Customers also need to be willing to install a compatible inverter from one of the following manufacturers:
      • Fronius
      • GroWatt
      • Fimer
      • SMA
    • completing installation by March 2022.

    There's also a final assessment from our technicians, which is based on local network health. The outcome of the technical assessment is final.

  • Who are the project partners?
    This trial is partially funded by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA). Find out more on the ARENA website.

    Other project partners:
    •    Fronius and SMA (Inverter manufacturers)
    •    SwitchDin (developed the Droplet device)
    •    SA Power Networks (SAPN) (project lead)