A ROADMAP FOR AUSTRALIA’S ENORMOUS ROOFTOP SOLAR AND BATTERY POTENTIAL
This report represents the collective vision of the Distributed Energy Leadership Forum (DELF),
which is the Clean Energy Council’s key advisory committee for strategy and priorities in support
of distributed energy. The CEC thanks Marchment Hill Consulting (MHC) for drafting and
refining the document and the following members of the DELF for shaping it according to its
vision: Neil Gibbs (MHC and DELF chair), Simon de Bell (ABB Australia), Emma Fagan (Tesla),
Jenny Paradiso (SunTrix), Warwick Johnston (SunWiz), Scott Partlin (SMA-Australia), Mark
Paterson (Strategen) and Dr Penelope Crossley (University of Sydney).
Most of Australia is about to reach ‘socket parity’ according to the Australian Energy Market
Commission (AEMC) and Bloomberg New Energy Finance. This means that in future, more
households and businesses will realise that a grid-connected rooftop solar and battery system
produces electricity more cheaply than what they can buy from the grid.
Millions of Australians have already reduced their electricity bills and lessened their dependence
on the grid using clean, renewable solar power. We have embraced rooftop solar so
enthusiastically that we have the highest penetration of residential rooftop solar in the world. In
Queensland, about 33 per cent of all dwellings have solar installed on their roof1 . South Australia
(32 per cent) and Western Australia (28 per cent) are not far behind. There are now more than
2.1 million Australian solar homes2 . By 2050, the AEMC expects more than half of all houses will
have solar PV systems and about a third of residential buildings will have energy storage.
It will be challenging to integrate that much solar generation onto the grid. Electricity distribution
networks were not originally designed for it.
We need to change the way we manage solar and battery systems and how they interact with
the grid. We’ll need new rules to mandate technological capability and new markets to make
best use of the capabilities already at our disposal.
The next generation of solar and battery systems will be intelligent, with advanced
communications capability, cybersecurity and an interface to markets. This will massively
increase the solar hosting capacity of networks.
Policy makers need to establish markets for the grid services that will be required by future
energy networks. They include markets for grid support, incentives to avoid unnecessary
investment and support for dynamically balancing supply from millions of variable energy
Progress will require a naturally sustaining support base to avoid being derailed as inevitable
challenges emerge. It will need the characteristics of a democratised ‘movement’. It is our hope
that this document will contribute to building a movement to revolutionise the way we transform
and use energy.
This is a societal challenge. The changes will take place over decades. Households, businesses
and governments will need to work together to make this a success. No single entity can make
this change happen.
In order to facilitate and unlock the enormous potential for distributed energy resources (DER),
the Clean Energy Council (CEC) proposes the following recommendations:
Distribution network service providers
- Distribution network service providers (DNSPs) should require inverters to have Volt
Watt and Volt-var response capability as a condition of grid connection for new DER
- DNSPs that have already adopted static zero-export limitations should invest in
network intelligence and move toward dynamic export limitations so that they can
utilise DER on their networks more effectively.
- The CEC supports the development of multi-sided trading platforms as a means of
enhancing system optimisation and customer benefits of DER uptake.
- DSNPs should move toward more cost-reflective network tariffs, which could include
time-of-use or demand-based charging.
- Connection agreements should allow for the dynamic engagement of DER in the
power system, and energy customers should have a right to initiate a review of their
connection agreement and the opportunity to receive a better deal.
- Volt-Watt and Volt-var response should be a mandatory requirement in the Australian
standard for inverters (AS 4777.2).
- Common standards, protocols and application programming interfaces (APIs) for
communication with and between DER are being developed and should be supported and adopted.
Australian Energy Regulator
- The Australian Energy Regulator should recognise the customer value and the
important role of dynamic network intelligence for managing high levels of DER on the
grid and should approve expenditure required by networks to enable this.
State and territory governments
- Government rebate programs for batteries should include virtual power plant (VPP)
capability requirements in their eligibility criteria.
- State and territory licensing and other regulatory frameworks should be developed and
strengthened to ensure that microgrids can proceed with protections for customers in
place and barriers to community energy projects are removed.
- State and territory governments should review their planning and development
approvals systems to remove any barriers to developers of new suburbs aiming for
very high DER penetration and minimal grid impacts using grid-connected microgrids
and embedded networks.