What can I do to manage how much and when I export?

    For customers with solar already installed, you could consider shifting your consumption to the middle of the day, including through use of smart appliances and/or timers i.e. HWS, pool pumps, air-conditioning, washing machines, dishwashers etc.

    Customers should also ensure your system is compliant with the latest versions of applicable Standards, including AS4777.2:2020. This allows your systems to respond better to congestion (high voltages) on the network. In the event of high voltages, compliant inverters would reduce export to the network (if needed) while non-compliant inverters may completely drop out which means that you won’t be able to self-consume either.

    If customers are installing a new solar system, you could consider installing panels with different orientations to flatten and extend export curves and/or consider installing a batteries.

    Currently Essential Energy has in place fixed export limits whereby customers are only approved to export up to a certain amount. Essential Energy has proposed introducing Flexible Connection Agreements to manage exports without the need for fixed limits.

    Why are there different export limits for rural and urban customers? What is classified as rural?

    As part of a customer’s connection agreement with us, customers are automatically only approved to export only up to 5kW in urban areas and 3kW in rural areas. 

    Rural sections of the network cannot accommodate the same level of exports as urban areas. This is because it is built with longer runs of overhead cables than urban areas, which cannot accommodate as much electricity. There is also lower consumption in these locations to consume exported electricity.

    Rural customers are defined in Essential Energy’s Connection Policy. Rural locations include:

    • parts of the network where the average demand is below a certain limit;
    • areas zoned as rural under a Local Environment Plan; or areas predominantly used for agricultural purposes.

    How do I know what size solar system to get?

    The optimal size of a solar system varies between customers, depending on how much and when customers use energy.

    While customers on the Sun Soaker tariff will now include an export price, the export charge is still a small proportion of current feed-in tariffs, so customers will still receive a net benefit.

    To reduce export charges, customers are better off limiting their exports during 10am-3pm through shifting consumption to these times.

    Are solar farms required to also have batteries?

    Solar farms are not required to have batteries to connect to the network, however a battery may help a solar farm avoid network constraints by storing energy at peak export times, to be released at time of higher demand such the evening period.

    How much does Essential Energy’s network rely on household solar?

    About 30 percent of our customers have solar panels. At peak times between 5pm-8pm, most customers are not relying on their solar and are instead consuming from the network, if they don’t have a battery.

    The National Electricity Market does not rely on a single source of generation. The agency that manages real-time wholesale generation, the Australian Energy Market Operator, is constantly balancing generation (at the lowest cost) to ensure reliability of electricity supply through the grid at an efficient price.