Note : This story corrects an earlier version which incorrectly reported that the decision being delayed by the AEMC related to rule change requests relating to charges for solar exports. We apologise for the error.
The Australian Energy Market Commission has sought more time to weigh a rule change request seeking to establish a framework to enable the Australian Energy Market Operator to set an initial minimum technical standard for rooftop solar and other distributed energy resources (DER).
In a statement on Thursday, the AEMC said it had extended the deadline for the draft rule determination to further assess the complex range of issues raised by stakeholders in the first round of consultation on the rule change request.
“The Australian Energy Market Commission is investigating how small energy systems like rooftop solar can best contribute to Australia’s renewable energy future without risking system security,” the statement said.
“The AEMC has extended the time for it to make a draft rule determination. The draft rule determination is now scheduled to be published on 3 December 2020.”
In seeking the rule change, AEMO has argued that the huge uptake of DER – and in particular rooftop solar – is rapidly shaping up to present potentially disruptive new challenges for power system balancing, stability, and recovery after major incidents.
The push for a uniform minimum technical standard across the national electricity market would also seek to address the sometimes major variations between DER standards from state to state and even between local distribution networks.
The rule change request attracted 27 submissions from a broad range of industry players and interest groups, including many of Australia’s major distribution network service providers, clean energy technology companies, and consumer advocacy groups.
The AEMC said that the number of stakeholder submissions and the complexity of issues arising from them warranted an extension of time to allow for further analysis.
In stark contrast to the AEMC’s slowly-slowly approach, South Australia last week rushed through its own set of strict new standards on rooftop solar installs, to ensure they have the ability to “ride through” system faults, can be subject to changing export limits and can be disconnected from the grid if needed.
The new inverter standards – imposed under the government’s “Smarter Homes” program – are designed to prevent large amounts of rooftop solar suddenly disconnecting as a result of voltage disturbances.
The new rules also call for the appointment of agents, to allow the Australian Energy Market Operator to use their technologies to seek the widespread “switching off” of rooftop solar in the “rare” occasions it needs to do so in order to keep the grid secure.
As RenewEconomy reported here, the SA changes come into force on September 28, but any new rooftop solar installation contract signed after August 10 will need to comply, leading Australia’s two peak solar bodies to complain of “chaos and confusion” and fears that installers will be left holding crippling amounts of unusable stock.