Victorian grid service provider Powercor says a major works program designed to reduce grid congestion in areas with high solar PV penetration on rooftops has increased approval rates for new solar connections to export energy surplus to the network by an impressive 30%.
Electricity distributor Powercor said owners of residential rooftop solar systems at some of Victoria’s best solar PV hotspots can now share more of their electricity after grid upgrades in key areas central and western parts of the state have increased the approval rate for rooftop solar exports to around 90%.
Powercor General Manager of Power Grids Mark Clarke said teams had worked at more than 30 sites per week for more than three months, making more than 500 different grid changes in nine key regions with high levels of penetration. solar on the roofs.
Areas, identified as part of Powercor’s solar hotspot program, include Ballarat, Bendigo, Bacchus Marsh, Hoppers Crossing, Maryborough, Melton, Portland and the western suburb of Melbourne between Sunshine and Point Cook.
Clarke said that before the work, the areas had been among the most limited parts of its network, with an export approval rate for new solar connections of just over 60% at the start of the year. .
In the wake of the works program, the areas are now among the best areas for approval of new export solar connections, with approval rates now above 90%, which is even higher than the average at network scale of 89%.
“We are seeing a real increase in the number of customers able to re-export excess solar power back into the grid in these areas, which were among the most limited on our grid just a few months ago,” said Clarke.
“This work allows most of our customers in these areas to export their excess solar energy, while helping Victoria reduce emissions and increase the use of clean energy generated by customers in their homes.”
The work program included upgrading infrastructure, adjusting tap settings on transformers at street level, balancing voltage levels on power lines and making adjustments in substations. zone.
The network upgrades are part of the first step in Powercor’s five-year Future Networks program which the service provider says has been designed to better support the ramp-up of solar, electric and rooftop storage batteries. .
More than 161,000, or approximately 22%, of residential customers on the Powercor grid now have solar power, with a total installed capacity of 631 MW. Over the past 12 months, more than 24,000 new residential customers have connected solar power to the Powercor grid.
Clarke said the work not only improved the ability of rooftop solar owners to export solar power to the grid, but also reduced tripping of existing solar systems caused by voltage issues when large amounts of excess solar energy are exported to the grid.
“We recognize that the future of energy is determined by customer choices and this work is part of how we work to make it possible,” Clarke said.
Powercor is also stepping up its community battery deployment, announcing it will install a 150kW / 388kWh battery in the Melbourne western suburb of Tarneit to make the most of the high solar penetration on the region’s rooftops.
The battery is designed to absorb excess solar production on rooftops and power up to 150 nearby homes during peak periods, providing over two and a half hours of battery storage.
“This battery will provide benefits to local customers, whether they have solar power or not, by providing the community with access to local renewable energy, thus improving the reliability of electricity during peak periods of the day. asks, ”Clarke said.
“Solar power is booming in Tarneit and this battery will allow more homes to connect and export excess solar power from their systems to the grid. “
Tarneit and its suburbs have the highest number of solar connections from the Powercor grid. In zip code 3029 (Tarneit, Hoppers Crossing and Truganina), more than 13,800 customers have connected solar power to the grid, which is about 42% of all customers in the region.
The new battery, which has secured funding of $ 800,000 under the Victorian government’s Neighborhood Battery Initiative, is expected to enable an additional 121,800 kWh of solar exports per year to the region.
Construction of the new battery is expected to begin this year and is expected to be operational by June 2022.
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