Emergency Solar Management
To maintain the stability of the power system and support the continued uptake of roof top solar, the WA State Government has introduced Emergency Solar Management, also known as Distributed Photo Voltaic Management or DPVM.
Minimum Operational Demand
Western Australia has one of the highest levels of installed roof top solar in the world with more than one in three households having roof top solar installed in the SWIS. During daylight hours, with clear sky conditions, combined roof top solar generation is often the largest generator with over 2 gigawatts (GW) of grid-connected roof top solar installed, exceeding the total capacity of the six largest generators across the SWIS.
Increasing roof top solar leads to lower operational demand and Minimum Operational Demand events can be challenging for AEMO, as it impacts the amount of controllability in the system with the reduced amount of essential system services available to maintain the secure and reliable operation of the grid.
As the electricity system rapidly transforms from large-scale, centralised generators to a system with generators spread out across millions of homes – known as a ‘distributed’ system, it is important that the right tools are in place to keep the grid running securely, providing power to all electricity customers.
Activating Emergency Solar Management
From 14 February 2022, the Emergency Solar Management scheme requires all new and upgraded inverters installed with a capacity of 5kVA or less to be capable of being remotely switched off during an extreme minimum operational demand event.
If an extreme minimum operational demand event is forecasted, AEMO’s control rooms will engage with the network operator, Western Power, to look at network configuration and turn down controllable commercial solar generation whilst closely monitoring the market for increased load. If these actions are not sufficient, AEMO will direct Western Power to maintain system load above the minimum demand threshold level. This means that Synergy, as the retailer for the non-contestable customers in the SWIS, will trigger Emergency Solar Management by communicating with households and small businesses’ devices to remotely turn off (and on again) roof top solar systems.
The Emergency Solar Management scheme is a last resort measure. It is designed to have as little impact as possible on households and small businesses as extreme minimum operational demand events are expected to be infrequent and only required for short time periods, which in turn will help to maintain the secure and reliable supply of electricity to all customers.
Since the commencement of the scheme AEMO has been working closely with its implementation partners to enhance and improve the performance of the scheme, and this work will continue over 2023.