Low voltage network visibility and optimising DER hosting capacity

Purpose of project

This project will maximise the potential of grid-exporting distributed energy resources (DER) such as rooftop solar, distribution network service providers (DNSPs) need a way to measure, benchmark and communicate the quality of export services they provide to their customers. This will inform:

  • expectations around export service levels for current and prospective DER customers,
  • future conversations with customers around preferences regarding performance for different levels of DER investment and export service access, and
  • future DNSP benchmarks about export capacity and any future export Service Target Performance Incentive Scheme (STPIS) as contemplated by the Access and Pricing rule change.

The project will develop a range of proposed metrics and strategies for communicating these to customers. By considering the relevance, utility and uncertainty of such metrics for different stakeholders, and the implications of adopting such metrics, including perverse incentives or other unintended consequences, the project will help DNSPs to efficiently plan for DER capacity while enhancing customer choice and supporting greater penetration of renewables. As a complementary extension to this project, the research team will also produce a Scoping Report examining strategic, collaborative approaches to data access and mapping network hosting capacity based on the reviewed definition and methods in the N2 Opportunity Assessment, as the basis for future RACE projects in this area.

Impact of project

Short-term benefits from this project will include:

  • improve customer trust and understanding around the implementation of dynamic operating envelopes in South Australia in the 2020–25 period
  • South Australian customers able to make better-informed decisions around DER investment under dynamic operating envelopes as they are introduced from 2022 onwards
  • establish foundations for effective customer and stakeholder engagement around DER integration as part of DNSPs’ next round of Regulatory Reset and Tariff Structure Statement consultation (commencing 2023 for SAPN and 2022 for Essential Energy)
  • inform Essential Energy’s approach to static export limit measures to comply with new NSW licence conditions by FY24
  • identify robust and industry-supported measures to support DNSP business cases for investment in hosting capacity and export service capability for their upcoming price determinations, for those DNSPs with high solar uptake, and
  • Support SAPN’s and Essential Energy’s immediate needs to analyse and understand DER hot spots and the least-cost actions to address network constraints where they occur. This will support reduced customer bills and emissions via increased local generation via enabling wider participation in rooftop solar PV, and better customer understanding of customer trade-offs and preferences.
  • Establish a strategic common approach for mapping hosting capacity as the basis for the upcoming RACE for 2030 research program.

Project partners – industry and research

SA Power Networks, Essential Energy, Solar Analytics, AER, ENA, ARENA, ECA, UTS

Completion date

Jul 2022