What Is The SA Power Networks Flexible Exports Trial

Solar Energy Adelaide

The SA Power Networks Flexible Exports Trial began in certain areas in the southern suburbs of Adelaide in September 2021. Originally consisting of approximately 600 properties, it has now expanded to include a multitude of suburbs across suburban Adelaide.

So what is it? And why is it occurring?

Flexible exports will enable the network distributor, which here in South Australia is SA Power Networks, to have the ability to adjust the amount of power your solar system feeds back into the electrical grid at any given point in time. 

Currently here in South Australia, the sun hits your panels, the electricity generated by the panels then moves from your panels through to your solar inverter, where it is converted into usable AC electricity. This AC electricity is utilised to power your home firstly and what is left is fed back into the state’s electricity grid at a capped maximum of 5kw per phase. Under the flexible export trial, you can choose to have your maximum feed in capped at 1.5kw per phase, which for the average homeowner is not a great incentive, or you can allow SA Power Networks to adjust your feed in between 1.5kw & 10kw per phase.

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The reason this is occurring is because in certain areas where residential solar is plentiful, SA Power Networks needs greater control to stabilise the states electrical grid at times when residential solar output is high & residential power consumption is low. Currently on a mild, sunny spring day, everyone’s solar system is running along full noise, but the mercury is not high enough for people to turn on their power-guzzling air conditioners. What occurs is an overload of solar on an old and aging electrical network, which can lead to a multitude of issues such as voltage rise occurring in your or your neighbour’s home.

The positives:

There is a vast array of positives with flexible exports – most notably that you can now go big when purchasing solar. 

Previously the 6.6kw system with a 5kw inverter was a staple of the South Australian solar industry but people are starting to realise that bigger is better! With the electric vehicle revolution and affordable household batteries just around the corner, people are starting to move towards bigger and bigger systems, and why not? No one is ever upset about having too much solar. 

Another positive is that SA Power Networks trial data suggests that 98% of the time, customers will be running at the full 10kw maximum feed in potential, which is crucial, as the more kilowatts you are feeding into the grid, the more you are going to get paid in feed in credits, thus greatly reducing your electricity bill.

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The negatives:

The oblivious negative is that you a trusting the distribution network to do the right thing by the customer and be running at peak feed in as often as possible – and personally, at Solar Energy Adelaide we’re optimistic this will occur. SA Power Networks in conjunction with the Australian Renewables Energy Agency (ARENA) has set the goal of doubling the amount of solar on the South Australian network by 2025. To achieve this, they will need to make it even more enticing than ever for customers to install rooftop solar systems.

Another negative is that at the moment, there is only a small number of inverter brands that are capable of achieving flexible export. At the time of writing, some ABB/Fimer, Fronius, SMA and Growatt inverters are the only inverters on the list with SolarEdge inverters not too far away. Of main concern is that there are very few inverters in the 6-10kw range. 

In saying this, the list is growing every month, so hopefully in the not too distant future all inverters will be capable of flexible export.

Contact Solar Energy Adelaide To Discuss the Flexible Export Trial

For us here at Solar Energy Adelaide, flexible exports are the starting gun for an exciting energy future. This type of technology opens to door into a world where energy can move between customer and network with a bi-directional flow which is advantageous for everyone involved. When we also consider how much more solar this will allow to be deployed on the South Australian network and the positive environmental impact that will bring in the decades to come, it makes us smile.

Get in touch with us today to have a chat about how the Flexible Benefits Trial can benefit you.

All views expressed in this blog are solely that of the author.

Frequently Asked Questions:

How do I find out if my property qualifies?

The best way is to get in touch with us here at Solar Energy Adelaide. We’ll ask to see a copy of your electricity bill and then let you know whether you’re eligible and how to proceed from there.

Can I move between fixed export & flexible export at a later date?

Yes –  As long as your inverter is capable of flexible export & approved by SA Power Networks.

What else is needed to achieve flexible export?

You will require an internet connection. Most inverters will also require what is known as a SwitchDin Droplet to be installed, which is essentially a solar smart meter that instructs the inverter what level to set the export at, at any given point in time.

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