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New requirement for solar PV inverter installations

Following a recommendation from the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO), Energy Policy WA have introduced a new requirement for solar PV and battery inverter installations across Western Australia.

What’s the change?

From 14 February 2022, all new or upgraded residential solar PV and battery installations with an inverter capacity of 5kW or less will be required to provide for the capability of remote operation to either “turn down” or switch off when the wider power grid faces interruptions during low-load periods.

What’s the issue?

The total residential solar PV input to South-West Interconnected System (SWIS) generates more power than WA’s largest power generator. During low-load periods whereby rooftops are generating high levels of power during low system demand periods, the risk to the overall SWIS is partial or complete power blackouts.

How does this affect me?

From 14 February 2022, all residential power generation (whether new or upgraded) when exported to the grid through an inverter of 5kW or less will be able to be remotely controlled as a ‘last resort’.

Energy Policy WA note that power generating stations will be the first in line for control, and should a low-load event and remote management occur, inverter management is not expected to interrupt any supplied power service.

This is not a retrospective application and existing users of solar PV or battery inverters will be unaffected – however, the addition of a battery (even if the inverter is not changed) will require compliance with low-load management requirements.

Repairs or product replacement will also not trigger the need for remote management, on the provision the replacement is ‘like for like’.

It will be important to remember that under the Distributed Energy Buyback Scheme, the maximum export to the grid is 5kW (five kilowatts) for systems constructed to 5kVA (5000 watts) and less.

However, the ability for solar users to construct a system greater than 5kVA will be furthered – but with an export limit of 1.5kW (one point five kilowatts). This approach has been designed to allow households a larger system for self-consumption that will limit the ability of any future combined systems to interrupt the SWIS during a low-load event.

What else should I know?

Energy Policy WA have released an Information Sheet surrounding the issue of Emergency Solar Management for the general public and consumers.

Western Power have developed several specific methods for use and the relevant requirements should form part of a customer application approval package from Synergy.

To find out more, contact HIA’s Building Services team.

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