Electricity supplier AGL has had its say on plans to introduce remote solar shutdown capabilities to rooftops in Queensland.
As we reported in SeptemberIt is expected that new and replacement solar and battery storage systems installed in Queensland with a capacity of 10 kW or more will need to be fitted with a Generation Signaling Device (GSD) to connect to the grid.
The GSD will allow Ergon Energy and Energex – under the leadership of the Australian energy market operator – to disconnect these systems remotely via Energy Queensland’s Audio Frequency Load Control (AFLC) network when needed.
One scenario where capacity can be used is when grid demand is so low that it threatens the stability of the power system. Last month, Queensland’s minimum operational demand hit a record high of 3,469MW at 1pm on Sunday September 11, largely due to rooftop solar panels. Even though it was not in the danger zone, it is an example of the growing impact of home solar absorption in queensland.
The “emergency backup mechanism” will only be used as a last resort for short periods of time to reduce the risk of statewide power outages, then remotely reconnect affected systems once the threat has passed. . During such an event, this would prevent any generation, self-consumption or export.
The intention is to introduce this requirement between mid and late November this year, but the Queensland Government has asked for comments in the meantime (consultation document here and Questions and answers here). The comment period ended on October 7.
AGL: No objection in principle, but…
Among the parties that provided comments was AGL.
AGL believes dynamic operating envelopes for solar PV will be one of the main solutions to lower minimum demand conditions. Dynamic operating envelopes are import and export limits that vary over time and location based on available local grid capacity or broader power system conditions.
But we are not there yet and until more elegant solutions can be widely implemented, AGL says blunt tools such as the Emergency Support Mechanism require appropriate safeguards to maintain the trust of consumers. To this end, he made a number of recommendations:
- That the emergency safety net mechanism be used only as a measure of last resort be integrated into the regulatory framework.
- The exclusion of battery storage assets and the requirement to install a GSD on battery systems from the backstop mechanism.
- A requirement for Distributed Network Service Providers (DNSPs – i.e., Energex and Ergon) to notify affected customers when their solar power systems have been reduced
- Waive any reset of power charges accrued by customers during the discount period.
- Revised implementation schedule from November 2022 to January 1, 2023.
“While we understand the rationale for the proposed Emergency Support Mechanism and do not oppose its introduction in Queensland in principle, we encourage the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO), Powerlink and Energy Queensland to pay extra attention to how the risk of harm or unintended customer outcomes can be further mitigated,” says AGL.
More details on AGL’s recommendations can be found here.
A few other states have already introduced remote solar shutdown requirements. South Australia led the way in September 2020 and in February of this year, Western Australia has introduced emergency solar management.
As far as I know the ability was barely used in SA. There was potential for him to come into play yesterday, but remote solar disconnections have been avoided.