Do you have an expandable solar system? On the 9th of October 2016 the new AS/NZS 4777.2:2015 will replace the previous grid connection of energy systems via inverters standard. This will wipe out literally hundreds if not thousands of solar inverter models from the CEC approved products list. If your solar inverter is not certified to AS/NZS 4777.2:2015 then from the 9th of October 2016 onwards – you cannot connect additional solar panels to your existing inverter.

To simplify things, we will copy and paste the ‘technical’ description of this rule change by the Clean Energy Council, and we will also summarise the changes and what it means for you in our summary.

The updated AS/NZS 4777.2:2015 Grid connection of energy systems via inverters – Inverter requirements was published by Standards Australia on 9 October 2015.

AS/NZS 4777.2:2015 specifies requirements and tests for low-voltage inverters for the injection of electric power through an electrical installation into the grid at low voltage. This Standard applies to inverters that have power flow in either direction between the energy source and the grid.

This replaces AS 4777:2005 parts 2 and 3, which applied to inverters up to 30 kW. The new Standard does not specify a size of inverter, as it is applicable to all inverters that connect to the installation at low voltage (e.g. 240/415V AC).

The Standard has a 12 month transition period.

By 9 October 2016 all equipment must be fully compliant with the new Standard.

Some of the differences between this and the previous edition include:

  1. The inclusion of a balance requirement for multiple phase systems.
  2. Revised set-points and limits to match electricity distributor
  3. Inclusion of provisions for demand response and power quality response modes.
  4. Inclusion of requirements for electrical safety in accordance with IEC 62109-1 and IEC 62109-2.
  5. Inclusion of requirements for multiple mode inverter operation and requirements for systems with energy storage to meet electrical safety requirements in accordance with AS 62040.1.1.

Note that all inverters on the CEC-approved list will need to have a new application lodged to provide extra certificates for  inverters.

All products that have not been relisted with this information by 9 October 2016 will be removed.

Source: Clean Energy Council Website: See http://www.solaraccreditation.com.au/products/inverters/changes-to-standards.html

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Adam Falzon from Australian Wind and Solar explains the rule change in simple terms.

“So here we go again with Standards Australia. Yet another rule change and yes you guessed it, a “re-registration” of all grid-connected inverters. This time around more manufacturers have opted not to take part in this savage money extracting exercise and give Australia the “Thanks but no thanks”. With a population of approximately 24 million, it’s a little farfetched that Australian Standards would expect manufactures to make very specific alterations to their product and pay to re-register them for yet another round of regulation changes. Standards Australia will boast that it’s all related to safety but mandating that grid connected inverters allows functionality to allow your grid operator to control their output? Really? Safety of the grid operator’s bank account maybe. So what does this all mean for the end user who pays for all this? Fewer products to choose from and the remaining manufactures that do decide to re-register will need to cover their cost. You pay more. At the moment we are down to 2 approved wind inverters in Australia and next month we will be down to just 1. The number of solar inverters has more than halved and so has the number of grid integrated storage inverters. Australian Standards and the Australian government are giving you a hand out to install a renewable energy system, and taking it back off you with the other hand”

Source: https://gallery.mailchimp.com/53774fa30c5bf302392c7b514/files/AWS_newsletter_August_2016.pdf

 

Summary: If your solar inverter is no longer on the CEC Approved Products list Post the 9th October 2016, you cannot add additional solar systems to your existing solar array. Not only will the additional solar panels not be entitled to generate STC’s ‘solar rebate’, but it is highly likely that the network operator (example: Essential Energy) will not approve the additional or expanded solar generation capacity. You may also ‘potentially’ have insurance claim issues if it is found that your expanded solar system does not meet the latest Australian Standards.

We advise that if anyone does have an ‘expandable’ solar system – which is a solar array on the roof that has a rated capacity below that of the installed grid-tie inverter – that you contact us to check if the new AS4777.2 regulation will impact on your ability to install additional solar panels.

You can add solar panels to an existing inverter that does not meet this new standard as long as the additional solar panels are installed before the 9th of October 2016.

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