SA Government initiatives to secure electricity supply

19 June, 2020

South Australian government initiatives to secure electricity supply

The SA Government has announced a number of actions aimed at ensuring secure electricity supply for South Australians amid continued growth in solar rooftop installations.

SA Power Networks welcomes these initiatives as they will have an important role in ensuring we can continue our State’s exciting energy transition in a co-ordinated, secure and managed way.

South Australia has some very specific challenges in managing our electricity system due to high levels of rooftop solar generation and comparatively low levels of energy demand.

The challenges impact all levels of the State’s energy system and ultimately put at risk the security, reliability and quality of supply experienced by customers.

The National Electricity Market operator (AEMO) has provided a technical analysis to the State Government examining the issues posed by continuing rapid growth in solar and its ability to manage security of supply. The two key areas of concern highlighted by the SA Government following the detailed AEMO modelling are:

  • ensuring the continued operation of rooftop solar during system disturbances (many inverters currently in place switch off in response to disturbances, exacerbating the impact on the system) and
  • managing minimum demand when we are separated from the National Energy Market (ie loss of the SA-Victoria interconnector).

To tackle this, the Government has announced a number of actions for urgent implementation while we wait for completion of a new SA – NSW interconnector (Electranet’s Project EnergyConnect).

These initiatives include:

  1. working with SA Power Networks to bring forward $10 million in investment to enhance voltage management and provide emergency backstop capabilities if required by AEMO
  2. accelerating new smart solar standards ahead of national changes so that solar supports the grid during disturbances
  3. establishing constraints to manage the SA - Vic interconnector to reduce the risk to the State’s energy system until Project EnergyConnect is delivered
  4. updating protection schemes and emergency protocols to make sure they are fit for purpose in low demand conditions
  5. increasing fast frequency control through the Grid Scale Storage Fund and rollout of home batteries.

In welcoming the initiatives, SA Power Networks’ General Manager Network Management said “SA Power Networks has been engaging with customers, stakeholders, rule makers, industry and manufacturers to develop prudent, cost effective approaches to deal with emerging issues in the electricity distribution network due to rapidly increasing levels of solar generation in our system.”

“The measures being undertaken by SA Power Networks create the potential to double the amount of renewable energy the distribution network can accommodate over the next five years,” Mr Schmidt said.

These initiatives include Time of Use Tariffs available from 1 July 2020; encouraging customers to use appliances in the middle of the day to soak up energy from rooftop solar; investment in enhanced voltage management and monitoring and analytics in the low voltage network; and developing industry approaches and standards to support introduction of flexible export limits for rooftop solar to respond to what is happening in the network at any given time.

You can find out more here. Many of the issues are canvassed in the Future Networks section of our Regulatory Proposal 2020-25. You can also read a copy of the State Government’s AEMO’s statement.

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