The Australian Energy Market Commission has released a draft rule to allow for small distributed energy systems, like rooftop solar, to be better managed in the national electricity market.

The draft rule will help address technical issues that can arise for the power system as a result of increasing use of distributed energy resources (DER) such as rooftop solar, batteries and electric vehicles.

It sets minimum technical standards for new and replacement micro embedded generators – primarily rooftop solar systems – that connect to the distribution poles and wires networks.

This should mean that newly-connected or replacement rooftop solar systems are able to stay connected amid voltage disturbances and not impact on power quality and security of the power system. A smoother operation of the power system will benefit all consumers.

Distributed energy resources are expected to become increasingly important in meeting Australia’s energy needs. Uncertainty about the performance of some of these systems means the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) is under pressure to restrict the energy generated by rooftop solar from entering the grid to avoid destabilisation.  It also impacts the ability of AEMO and distribution businesses to manage voltage disturbances.

At the moment, when there is a technical difficulty in the power system such as a voltage disturbance, some rooftop solar systems disconnect from the grid – potentially exacerbating the initial disturbance and making it harder to manage. The draft rule would mean that rooftop solar systems would be tested to ensure they had the ability to “ride through” such disturbances and remained connected.

This draft rule is in response to a rule change request submitted by AEMO. The request sought to establish a framework for AEMO to set initial minimum technical standards for DER through a new subordinate instrument to the National Electricity Rules (NER).

The AEMC is today releasing an alternative solution, a more preferable draft rule, that requires distribution network service providers to include a requirement in their connection agreements made under Chapter 5A of the NER for connecting micro-embedded generators to meet the DER Technical Standards.

We consider this approach will be faster and more cost efficient as it makes use of existing rules and industry frameworks rather than establishing a set of new arrangements, which would have been needed to implement the initial proposal.

The draft rule also works together with existing Clean Energy Council and the Clean Energy Regulator compliance and monitoring systems relating to product certification and how electricity generating systems are installed.

We expect our alternative solution to address immediate power system security issues associated with large increases in rooftop solar while at the same time supporting best customer outcomes and system security as we move to integrate more DER into the power system.

This rule change request is part of a coordinated body of work to integrate DER in a way that benefits all energy users. The AEMC is working closely with AEMO, the Australian Energy Regulator, the Energy Security Board and other bodies to deliver this.

Stakeholders are invited to provide feedback on the draft determination and draft rule by 14 January 2021.


Media: Kellie Bisset, Media and Content Manager, 0438 490 041