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Solar flexible exports trial

Is your solar export limited to below 2kW? 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:

  • Submit a solar application through the AusNet solar pre-approval tool (see FAQ 'How do I find out my export limit' below for instructions);
  • Be an AusNet customer with an export limit of less than 2kW on your solar installation;
  • Install a compatible inverter from  FroniusGroWattFimer or SMA (see FAQ 'Which inverters are compatible with the trial' below for full details) plus a SwitchDin Droplet export limiting device;
  • Have an internet connection; and
  • Intend to complete your solar installation by the end of 2021 (exemptions apply for installation delays caused by COVID restrictions).

 

 Applications are open to customers or to solar installers to apply.

 

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

About the Trial

After record-breaking 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 the trial, AusNet customers who currently have zero, or near zero, export limits may be able receive up to 5kW 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 would provide more opportunity for Victorian solar customers to export their excess solar without putting pressure on the network.

 

How does the trial work?

This 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 will 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 have issues submitting your EOI or 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
    •    Help to open the opportunity for other Victorians 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 is exporting 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 are able to 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 trialing 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 a set of criteria to ensure we can get the most accurate results. These criteria include:
    •    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 the end of 2021.
    If you were not selected to participate, your home doesn’t meet one or more of these criteria. If you’d like to be kept up to date with the outcomes of this trial, enter your details in the form above and select “I’d like to be kept up to date”.
  • Why was I assessed as unable to export but can now participate in flexible exports?
    This 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 to have a certain capacity, new customers will be allocated a limit based on that data. Flexible export will use 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?

    Solar pre-approval is required to be considered for the trial, and can completed via our tool. This is also how you find out about your export limit.

    To apply for pre-approval, you will need:

    • NMI – this is a 10 or 11 digit number which you can find on your power bill 
    • Meter number of the meter you plan to connect the system to – this is a 7-12 digit number which you can find on your meter or on your power bill
    • Details of the proposed inverter model and size – if you do not know what you intend to install, please use the following:
      • Solar inverter manufacturer: FRONIUS AUSTRALIA
      • Solar inverter model: Primo 5.0-1
      • Quantity of inverters: 1
    • You must ‘Accept offer’ in the pre-approval tool for us to be able to determine your trial eligibility. 
  • 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 whichever inverter you prefer. However, if you install an inverter that is not on the below list as ‘available now’, you may not be eligible to participate in the trial if your inverter is not approved in time.

    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

    Compatible Equipment - coming soon 

    Make Model Capacity
    (kW)
    # Phase Meter Flexible Connection Compatibility with trial
    ABB/Fimer UNO-D M 1.2, 6.0 1 TBC* SwitchDin Droplet October 2021
    SMA Sunny Boy AV-41 3.0 - 6.0 1 TBC* SwitchDin Droplet October 2021
     Fronius Symo (Snap Inverter)  3.0 - 20.0 3 TBC* SwitchDin Droplet December 2021
     Fronius Primo Gen 24+  3.0 - 6.0 1 TBC* Built into converter January 2022
     Fronius Symo Gen 24+  6.0 - 10.0 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. All expressions of interest must first apply for pre-approval through our online Solar and Battery Connection Tool.
    If you have a large number of customers with zero or low export, who you would like to have assessed, you can contact us directly by emailing flexible_exports_trial@ausnetservices.com.au or call 0460 284 109.

     

    Note: To be accepted onto the trial, an approved solar installation must be completed by the end of 2021.
    Manual assessment: If the customer is ineligible for the Trial and the pre-approved export limit is restricted, customers can still request a manual assessment.
    Register your details in the form above, we’ll let you know when expressions of interest  open.
  • 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 2kW export limit
    Check a customer’s export limit on our Solar and Battery Connection Tool using their 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
    Installation needs to be completed by December 2021.
    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?
    ARENA is partially funding this trial, you can learn more on the ARENA website.

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