Emergency solar management in Western Australia – what is it? And should we be worried? SolarQuotes founder Finn Peacock explains.
Transcription begins —
There is so much solar power in WA right now that the government is worried. They sometimes worry that there is more solar energy being generated than can be used. Now that’s a problem because the WA network has to balance supply and demand every second. And if there is more supply than demand for too long, the network will shut down.
Emergency solar management is a way to remotely turn off new solar systems to reduce the amount of solar power entering the grid – and this is important in an emergency.
So how will it work?
Well, every solar system installed in WA after Feb 14, 2022 must be able to shut down remotely. It must be able to shut down remotely with two methods.
The first method is a contact in your smart meter. It’s your electricity meter. So when the government presses the big red button to turn off new solar systems, it opens a contact in your smart meter and cuts power to your inverter. Your solar installation switches off. There is no solar energy injected into the grid. They don’t have to worry about it.
The second solution is more elegant. It’s called an API solution – which stands for Application Programming Interface for the non-nerds among you. They send an order over the Internet. Your inverter “hears” this command and it shuts down until it receives the command to turn back on.
Now, that’s not the best solution they could have done there; because if they’re talking to the inverter, what they might do is they might say, “don’t completely shut down. Keep building, just stop exporting”, because that is the problem. But for some reason the WA government wants to shut down your inverter with the API solution and not just shut down exports. I don’t know why – we’ll have to ask them at some point.
Now is that a problem? Should you be worried if you have a solar system or are planning to buy one? Well, if you already have a solar system and it was installed before February 14, 2022, this does not apply to you. This is only for new solar installations after this date. If you’re thinking of buying solar power, you might be worried that it will kill your system’s economy because it’s going to shut down all the time.
Well, I have news for you.
Solar power system shutdowns as a last resort
In South Australia we have had almost the exact same program for 18 months. It started in October 2020 and the number of times the government used it was once for about an hour. So they don’t use it much. As the name suggests, it should only be used in an emergency. That shutdown cost maybe 50 cents, maybe a dollar, to a typical solar homeowner in South Australia. So 50 cents on the dollar in 18 months; it’s not the kind of money that should stop you from buying a solar system if you want to have one.
So this is a short video to tell you that we have had this system in South Australia for 18 months. It was a complete nothing-burger; despite when he came out everyone panicked. I remember the headlines on the ABC: “Government wants to shut down your solar! Is it worth buying solar energy anymore? »
Take our experience in SA if you live in WA as an example. It’s a good problem to have. This means you have plenty of solar power in WA. If very, very occasionally you have too much solar power to handle, that means for the remaining 99.9% of the time you have heaps of solar power in the WA grid. This does two things. This reduces the cost of your electricity because it is the cheapest electricity that can be produced, and it reduces emissions from your grid.
And if you think that’s not a good thing, then you probably shouldn’t watch this video. It is a very good thing; so it’s a good problem to have. That’s no reason to worry. And we’ve had it in South Australia for 18 months and it’s been nothing but burger. So that’s emergency solar management in WA.
— End of transcript