Ergon imposes new limit on rooftop solar systems

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Ergon introduces new limits on solar system inverters on its grid – down to 3.5kVa on its main network and zero on isolated networks.

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rooftop solarIn another apparent blow to the solar industry, Queensland regional electricity utility Ergon Energy has effectively imposed a 3.5kW limit on rooftop solar system, making it more difficult and potentially more costly for households and businesses to install rooftop solar.

The new limit – down from 5kW previously – is the level at which Ergon will demand a “network assessment”, and it could include limits on how much, if any, solar can be exported back into the grid.

The limit applies to grid-linked inverter systems and is expressed in kVa – which roughly translates into the size of the solar system in kilowatts.

The restrictions in remote areas will be even more severe. Technical assessments will be required for any inverter  system above 2kVa on so-called SWER networks – the single line networks that operate in remote areas – and any system above zero kVa in isolated grids.

The solar industry says the decision means that it will become more costly to install solar on households, and comes after a change in tariffs that hikes fixed rates, lowers volume charges, and makes it less attractive to install solar in Queensland.

Businesses will also be affected, with any solar 3-phase inverter above 10kVa on the main network requiring an assessment. The assessments do not apply if the system does not intend to export to the grid.

Ergon says the new thresholds are forecast to “quadruple” the current volume of assessments. It says it will allocate more assessors, but there could be delays in July and August.

Ergon Energy has also flagged in the past that assessment fees will be introduced as part of the move to the new regulatory period. “While we do not plan to introduce fees at this time, should this change, we will communicate the new fee structure to you prior to its introduction.”

Giles Parkinson is founder and editor of RenewEconomy.com.au, and is also the founder of OneStepOffTheGrid.com.au and founder/editor of www.TheDriven.io. Giles has been a journalist for 35 years and is a former business and deputy editor of the Australian Financial Review.

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11 Comments
  1. JayJ 3 years ago

    Well no surprises there and this was flagged last year. You can still install any size system you want as long as you don’t connect it to their network and why would you at 6 FiT. Ergon’s bulletin also says non export systems don’t require an assessment anyway. See here : https://www.ergon.com.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0003/269562/PV-Industry-Alert-Issue-20.pdf

  2. Chris Fraser 3 years ago

    Why spend money on assessments (code for time wasting). Nobody wants to sell Ergon PV at 0-6 c/kWh. Better to invest and adapt with step-change transformers. But no that would edge out transmission of centralised energy … someone out there ain’t gonna like it.

    • JayJ 3 years ago

      Yes but that costs them money they pass that onto you and I in higher prices and it especially impacts those who don’t have solar and are paying for it – not quite right or fair is it just so you can enjoy 44 c feed in tariff.

      • Chris Fraser 3 years ago

        They would charge PV and non-PV households for constructing the step-changers in a heartbeat. But this would play into the hands of progressive network managers. The distributed PV would power half the local reticulation system during the day and high investment centralised energy would get dispatched less. That’s clearly not the design of the incumbents. Easier to put the blame on PV for network ‘problems’ – even completely made up problems.

  3. Jim Smith 3 years ago

    Elon Musk will put Ergon in its place. And they know it. This sort of heavy-handed protectionism won’t last.

  4. Martin Nicholson 3 years ago

    Should be kVA not kVa. 5kW = 6.25 kVA with power factor of 0.8.

  5. Sandy 3 years ago

    No surprises here! Writing’s been on the wall for quite sometime for these network companies. Solar + Storage + Zero Export is the way to go. Keep grid as a backup only.
    There are batteries out there working in conjunction with battery chargers and solar panels perfect for QLD conditions, store them indoors or outdoors, reliable, whole thing will payback in a few years

  6. Engineer Malcolm 3 years ago

    On what technical basis. This sounds like a breach of their NER obligation to connect.

    Seems completely at odds with statements from the Qld government.
    http://statements.qld.gov.au/Statement/2015/5/15/queensland-keen-to-capitalise-on-a-solar-future

    Mark Bailey is Ergon’s Shareholding Minister – he should pull them into line.

  7. Gordon Bossley 3 years ago

    … thereby upping the rate of departure from the grid. Correct? I think so.

    Wait about 6-8 years and they’ll be begging people to go back to the grid, to share their excess power. And it will cost everyone more, to update, and reconnect the infrastructure.

  8. mick 3 years ago

    this kind of petty b/s is why I dropped off

  9. Humanitarian Solar 3 years ago

    One could easily combat these limits by having the maximum allowable solar system connected to the grid in one system and another off grid system on the shed, granny flat, garage or whatever. There’s no need to think there has to be one solar system or if there is two they can be connected together or not. Design can address all the issues in this article.

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