The challenge

Very high levels of solar generation can present risks to our power system at times of low load, which occur when generation from solar is high and electricity demand from customers is low.

These periods are typically during mild, sunny days in Autumn and Spring, on weekends and holiday periods when demand from businesses is relatively low and air-conditioning is unnecessary for most customers.

At these times, fewer large conventional generators are required to operate. However, these generators perform critical services in our power system, stabilising electrical frequency on the grid, helping the power system continue through disturbances (such as outages), and sudden changes in demand and supply. Without these services, our power system is vulnerable to widespread outages.

Cloud bands can also result in very large, sudden fluctuations in generation and demand, challenging the management of the grid. When this occurs, the system needs to respond almost instantly to remain in balance.

Our response

The State Government’s Energy Transformation Strategy has set the path to respond to this challenge. By amending the sectors governing rules to support that availability of more ‘grid firming’ services and to introduce storage into our energy market, the Strategy is now being implemented to tackle the hurdles to ensure our system can be well managed.

The State Government is also supporting investment in other technologies, such as wind and storage, to diversify the sources of renewable energy.

You can play a role

Days of low load risk occur generally on weekends, and when the weather is sunny and mild.

On these days, all households, whether or not they have rooftop solar installed, can help make the most of plentiful solar generation by moving energy usage to around lunchtime. This could include:

  • running appliances, such as the dishwasher and washing machine
  • charging devices such as laptops and phones
  • setting timers on hot water systems and pool pumps
  • charging electric vehicles
  • setting batteries to commence charging at midday

Future solar customers can also choose the size of their PV system to match their household need, so that they are not exporting excess amounts of energy to the grid. These new systems will also have the ability to have their solar exports turned down or off in emergency situations. Electricity supply to the household from the grid will not be affected.

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