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Enabling a smoother ride for solar panel uptake

As part of the State Government’s Energy Transformation Strategy, a new requirement for solar inverter systems has been introduced to enable better integration of solar generation into the south-west grid.

The revised Australian Standard AS/NZS 4777.2:2020 will include a mandatory requirement for all new inverters to have a voltage disturbance ride-through (VDRT) capability. This will be applicable throughout Australia from 18 December 2021 but the VDRT capability is being fast tracked here in WA.

From 1 July 2021, all inverters in WA that meet the previous version of AS/NZS 4777.2:2015 are required to have VDRT capability. This implementation requirement is being accelerated in WA at the recommendation of the Energy Transformation Taskforce to reduce the number of inverters with lower specifications being installed prior to December 2021.

Western Power Executive of Asset Management Gair Landsborough said the change was a further step forward in managing distributed energy resources (DER) on the grid, paving the way for the continued rapid uptake of solar by Western Australian homes and businesses.

“Developed in close consultation with Western Power and Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO), the new inverter requirement is part of a suite of measures to address managing low power loads on the network that occur during sunny days,” he said.

The new changes will have no direct impact on Western Australians who purchase PV systems, as the change is an inherent inverter equipment capability, which will improve their systems’ ability to ‘ride through’ a grid disturbance.

To mitigate the risk that some PV suppliers may be left with non-compliant stock, Western Power will hold industry briefing sessions to explain the changes and incorporate a one-month grace period from 1 June 2021.

Mr Landsborough said that with more than a third of WA homes having solar panels – providing five times the capacity of our largest generator on the system - we’re making changes to the way we manage the grid and integrate solar generation.

“The new inverter standards and introduction of the new mandatory requirement for voltage ride-through capability will provide greater assurance for solar PV owners and the energy industry that solar uptake can continue while enabling Western Power and AEMO to better manage the electricity system. "It will help ensure that Western Australians can continue to use renewable energy, and have a safe and reliable power supply now and in the future.”

Solar panels being installed on a house roof