New South Wales electricity distribution company Endeavour Energy has launched a program to better manage the record numbers of residential rooftop solar systems being installed across its grid. And it does not include a solar export charge.
The program, launched on Monday by NSW energy minister Matt Kean, uses the advanced smart meter technology of Australia and New Zealand based company Intellihub, and is being rolled out across 2,500 homes in the state’s Illawarra region in partnership with 10 local retailers.
The program, called Off Peak Plus Benefits, will – as the name suggests – offer a range of possible benefits to consumers in the area, starting with the ability to share surplus rooftop solar generation between households to power electric hot water systems.
This “solar soaker” function can be extended in the future to take in electric vehicle charging, battery storage, and load control or demand response services, giving retailers the scope to provide new products for consumers to help reduce peak demand and drive down electricity costs.
For Endeavour Energy, the meters will be used to help replace a 50-year-old system operating from the DNSP’s nearby Albion Park substation, with each sending energy and network data, offering greater visibility of the low voltage network and household connection.
On this level, the meters will detect serious safety issues with neutral connections, detect when power is out and provide insight on voltage fluctuations resulting from solar power flowing back into the grid.
This will, in turn, enable more rooftop solar to be safely installed behind the meter at homes and
“Australians are installing solar panels faster than anywhere else in the world in our franchise area,” said Endeavour Energy’s chief assets and operating officer, Scott Ryan.
“We have 200,000 customers that have solar panels on their roofs, we expect that to double in four years, triple, by 2030, and if we don’t do something about it now, we’re going to face network issues into the future – so Off Peak Plus is great in that regard.
“We’re getting a lot more information than we’ve ever had before. We can dynamically control the voltage on your network to optimise it for our customers and to make the network run much more efficiently. It’s a win for everybody,” Ryan said.
“The reason we call it Off Peak Plus is that it can do a whole lot more than just the hot water systems, so classic example is we could use that same solar energy to charge customers electric vehicles.
“We’re very excited about the … program because this is just the start,” he added. “We’re going to roll this out across Western Sydney and down the south coast in the months ahead.”
Intellihub CEO Adrian Clarke said the smart meters meant a range of households could participate in the program, including those without rooftop solar.
“This is the technology that brings the everyday battery to life… It allows everyone from the people with solar on their roof to people with hot water systems to be a key part of this.”