Over three million households and small businesses have taken up solar, and the demand for household batteries and electric vehicles will increase over time. This rapid uptake of solar calls for new standards to make the technology and system go hand in hand.
Having witnessed the highest record of rooftop solar installations numbers nationwide, the Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC) has announced compulsory new standards for new and upgraded solar PV systems connecting to the National Electricity Market so as to provide system strength and to help the electricity grid cope with the influx.
The new standards will come into effect on December 18, 2021 and would help the network handle the excess influx of solar without risking system security. As the launch is in December, manufacturers have ample time to prepare for the change.
It is applicable to all jurisdictions in the NEM – Queensland, New South Wales, the ACT, Victoria and Tasmania. As Northern Territory and Western Australia are not part of the National Electricity Market they are not affected by the changes.
These new standards will call for new technologies into the power system and at the same time help protect grid stability. With a stable system we can connect up more solar and thus result in a faster decarbonization.
According to the new standards, new and upgraded solar PV systems connected to the grid must be compliant with the distributed energy resources (DER) Technical Standards, including using a compliant inverter with low voltage ride-through (LVRT) capabilities to ensure that residential systems won’t ‘trip’ or disconnect when there are voltage disturbances on the network.
Energy Networks Australia (ENA) chief executive Andrew Dillon welcomed the new standards and said it was particularly positive that the AEMC had worked within the existing framework rather than create new rules. He said these new standards will help networks ensure the growing amounts of rooftop solar can operate efficiently and safely and more customers can connect their devices to grid.
The Energy Security Board is also considering the issue of integrating DER. It is a matter of concern how to change the pricing structure to give incentives to owners of DER to export power when it is of most value to the system.
To support a whole new energy mix we need to have a right structure. The new power grid is entirely different from the old ones we relied on earlier. We need to have a new system which helps more people to connect, protects those that don’t, and helps the system run smoothly overall. This would require restructuring the system, including the market incentives and rules.
To support the rapidly transforming energy system, AEMC has already incentivised customers to export power during times of high demand, but we need to make sure that these changes will cater for multiple scenarios. A centralise -everything policy approach to integrating new technologies will be costly for customers and cause problem in some regions.
“With ever-growing new connections of solar and batteries, it’s important we deliver solutions that can work in all the vastly different system conditions right across the country,” Dillon said.
The new standards follow a rule change request from the Australian Energy Market Operator seeking to set up a framework for AEMO to set minimal technical standards. The new framework will also be flexible, so that changes to the Australian standards over time will automatically apply.
These changes are brought by AEMC with the view to future-proof the NEM electricity system so that it can handle more solar capacity by supporting the rapidly transforming energy system.

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