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Sun shines on solar reliability

Jemena’s electricity networks team is on its way to achieving a momentous goal – improving the reliability of solar power on the network by 60 per cent by the end of 2023!

“Around 15 per cent of our customers generate energy using solar panels, and solar connections across the Jemena Electricity Network increased by 7,000 in 2021, bringing the total to 55,000. With solar expected to continue this rapid growth well into the future, we’re investing in our network to ensure our customers can access solar energy and also remain connected to grid electricity,” explains Jemena Future Network Team Leader Tan Bui.

“Our team is investigating how to maximise the number of customers who can generate their own energy via rooftop solar panels without impacting overall voltage levels on the energy grid – an issue which has the potential to cause localised outages if voltage levels spike unexpectedly. 

“Our ‘Solar Reliability’ standard measures the average amount of time a customer’s solar inverter would be prevented from generating electricity due to high voltages. When we improve our Solar Reliability, our customers will benefit from generating more renewable energy.”

Tan said that Jemena has implemented a number of projects which were already delivering strong improvements in Solar Reliability across the network. 

“Our customers in Kalkallo, Coolaroo, Somerton and Pascoe Vale are already seeing the benefits of our investment and we are now implementing programs in Sunbury, Braybrook, Coburg South, Sydenham, East Preston and Newport.”

Advances in technology, such as the widespread adoption of smart meters across the electricity network, are providing the data that is needed to improve Solar Reliability. Andy Dickinson, Jemena’s Future Networks and Planning Manager, said that Jemena is trialling an Advanced Distribution Management System (ADMS) with near real-time feedback data from smart meters to enable better voltage management across the network.

“Other recent innovations, such as improved solar inverter standards, are part of the solution to improve Solar Reliability. Learnings from the EV Grid trial, which is enabling customers to trial dynamically charging their electric vehicle, will also shape Jemena’s approach to solar and battery energy and help us improve reliability overall.

Andy said that ultimately, strong investment by the business in improving the reliability of solar energy would prepare the network for the future electricity market and lower the overall cost to the customer.

“The future of energy and the shift to renewables is very exciting. We are proud to be supporting the transition to a lower emission future and economy, as well as provide our customers with greater choice and control over how they use the electricity grid, by enabling more renewable energy via our network,” she said.

The Solar Reliability standard and ADMS are two examples of Jemena’s vision in practice, creating sustainable energy solutions with communities and focusing on innovations across its network to help achieve our collective net-zero future. Learn more about our sustainability initiatives: https://jemena.com.au/about/innovation.