The demand for solar is constantly on the verge of rising in Australia. Hence, the government bodies and energy providers constantly set new rules and limits to ensure that everything works safely.
This is where the concept of solar export limiting comes into work. The export limit is probably the only option you can have for installing solar in your house. Do not try to stress the export limit given to you.
You can choose other alternatives, so there is nothing to worry about. In this article, we will discuss the solar export limit and all general terms, why knowing about it is important, and how to maximize the solar export limit given to you.
What does the solar export limit mean?
The solar export limit refers to your local electricity supplier's limit on the amount of energy that your solar system may send into the grid. The limit is around 5KW, so you cannot cross this limit and transmit or sell power into the grid.
Many houses in Australia are not permitted to export more than 5KW of the energy generated by their solar system into the grid. The limit generally does not affect Australian households during the normal time, but it has quite a significant effect during peak energy hours.
Peak energy hours refer to the middle of the day or afternoon when the energy production is highest, but the consumption is extremely low. During this time, the households cannot export the total excess energy due to the limit, and hence a generous amount of energy gets wasted.
Now, you might feel curious about why the limiting is done? Well, solar export limiting is in place since several homeowners in Australia currently have access to energy production. Consequently, many houses are generating a surplus of excess energy during sunny days and exporting it back to the grid.
Since a huge amount of energy gets exported to the grid, power surges and other issues arise. In addition, the quality of the electricity also witnesses a drop. Apart from this, power cuts are also widespread since many power lines are old and longstanding. So, to avoid these issues, the solar export limit is set.
Positive and negative impacts of solar export limiting
Like every other concept, solar export limiting also has arguments against it and in its favour. One of the primary arguments is the loss of feed-in tariffs. At the same time, it is a loss for some, some state that it is not that important. Feed-in-tariffs are only advantageous when a household or property exports considerable energy to the grids. Therefore, it does not hold a lot of significance.
Apart from feed-in-tariffs, there are many more positives and negatives of solar export limits and general terms. So, let's talk about them in detail.
Positive effects of solar export limiting
The solar export limit permits house owners to install a more extensive system
In today's digital age, installing a bigger system for securing the future of your house or property is extremely important and massive. Installing a 10kW system instead of an average 4-5kW system is much better and more progressive. An average household's electricity and energy consumption needs are much higher than before.
Therefore, it is advisable to install a bigger system to secure the future of your energy consumption needs. The world is constantly developing, and various modern technologies are coming into the market. The demand for them is also increasing. So, even if you feel that a system of 6.6kW is enough for your electricity needs now, it won't be enough in the future.
Hence, ensure yourself, and get a solar system that generates energy for a long time.
More energy consumption for your house
By setting a limit on exporting the energy to the grid, you will be able to consume more power in your house. Instead, focus on increasing your self-energy consumption and use a better and more efficient system for energy production for long term benefits. By doing these, you will be able to ensure a better return on your investments.
Protecting the grid from electrical issues
One of the main positive impacts of limiting solar export is that it avoids power surges and other related issues. Power shortages become common when everyone starts exporting or selling their excess energy to the grid since the power lines get stressed. Therefore, the solar export limit is ideal for preventing frequent power cuts during summer.
Adverse effects of solar export limiting
The export limit can be zero
It may happen for many homeowners that their household or property is entirely excluded from the export of excess energy to the grid. If this happens, then even if your household has access to solar systems, you won't be able to enjoy any feed-in tariffs. As a result, all the excess energy that your system generates will either get wasted or lost almost immediately.
False data reporting
The export limit can have a severe impact on your solar data, and as a consequence, you won't be able to predict whether your system is underperforming. Your system will show your export limit, i.e., 5kW on its data, and even if the system produces more than this, it won't show.
It would get difficult to detect issues at the time of peak energy production. However, this issue occurs only when you start exporting. Therefore, if you self-consume the entire energy, your savings will get maximized.
Wastage of energy
This is one of the main disadvantages of the solar export limiting. If your solar system is producing more energy than the export limit and if you are unable to consume it, then the excess energy gets entirely wasted. It is not possible to evaluate the wasted or lost energy as well. So, therefore, this is quite a big disadvantage for solar export limiting.
How does the solar export limit function?
The solar export limiting is accomplished by installing a smart energy meter. The meter is connected to your switchboard. The smart meter sends signals to the inverter when the energy travels through. So, when your system reaches its export limit, the smart meter prevents the system from sending any more energy to the grid.
The remaining excess energy either gets lost or wasted in the form of heat or thermal energy. The smart meter might cost you a little extra but is one of the best options for maintaining your solar export limit. Another effective option is software that prevents your inverter from exporting more than the allowed amount.
How much power can be exported to the grid?
Depending upon your solar export limit, there is a limited amount of energy that you can send back to the grid. However, despite the limit, you must have the freedom of exporting as much energy as possible to the grid. However, certain areas prevent you from doing this.
Those areas cap you for using the solar export limit. Nevertheless, the export limit in every area is not the same. For example, if you reside in an area where the grid connection is strong, and the number of people using solar for power generation is low, then your export limit will be less.
But if you reside in a built-up area where solar is very common and popular, then you will have a strong and high solar export limit. Additionally, suppose you reside in a regional area where the grid network is old, frail, and needs repair. In that case, you may be limited in your ability to export solar energy.
Some areas where the export limit is very low or nearly not there are:
- Eastside of Sydney, Merriwa, and Newcastle areas
- East Melbourne, Bayside Peninsula, and Port Phillip Bay
In some areas where there is solar limiting but the feed-in-tariff is good:
- South Australia
- North and West Melbourne
- Western Australia
- Easter third of Victoria
- South East Queensland
- West Sydney
Areas where the solar export limiting is high:
- Perth and South WA
- Regional New South Wales
- Western Victoria and West Melbourne
- CBD and Metro Areas
- Darwin, Alice Springs, and Katherine
Ways to overcome the solar export limit
The only way to overcome the solar export limit is by increasing your self-energy consumption. However, it would be best to increase it during your solar system's peak energy generation hours. The peak energy generation hour is mainly during the afternoon for homeowners or property owners.
People tend to consume high amounts of energy during the morning or evening hours, but unfortunately, they are not the peak hours. Therefore, there are some solutions to increase self-energy consumption during the afternoon. They are:
Begin to power your vehicle by investing in an EV charger when you start exporting
The demand for electric vehicles has significantly increased during the past two to three years. The sole reason behind this is that the current electric cars are pretty affordable, and they come along with an expansive range of advantages for their owner. Along with these benefits, they also provide a return on the investment which means that you can earn money back that you spent to purchase it.
By installing an EV charger at your home, you will be able to charge your car while exporting power to the grid. Therefore, the wastage of energy will get limited to a certain amount. Nowadays, EV chargers come with many amazing features, one of them being that they are automatic.
Therefore, when your solar system starts exporting energy to the grid, the EV charger will turn on by itself.
This means that even before you hit your solar export limit, you're storing the extra energy in your car to utilize later. It's a great feature that can help you get a better return on your solar and electric vehicles investments.
Install solar battery
Another way to overcome limiting solar export is by installing a solar battery. It is similar to the EV charger since the battery also stores excess energy during peak hours for later use. The solar battery gives you full control over your generated power and helps maximize your savings.
Solar export limiting has both good and bad sides. There are arguments for and against it, which are extremely important to consider before purchasing a solar system for your house or property.
Export limiting can also assist you in getting a larger system approved for your home, allowing you to employ it to your advantage. It may, however, have an adverse effect on those households who are not permitted to export any excess energy to the grid, especially when it comes to reporting or data on the performance of your systems.
You may think this is terrible, but it isn't that important. Most homeowners don't even have a system large enough to generate substantial amounts of extra energy. Therefore, the adverse effects do not apply. However, as we progress into a more digital and renewable era over the next five years, this will soon alter.