Ergon announces new technology roll-out to align with thriving rooftop solar uptake

Regional Queensland network operator Ergon Energy has announced the roll-out of technology it says will allow more solar generated power generated on rooftops to be exported to the grid, without disrupting supply.

The Satcom Solutions technology is being installed at the poles and wires level, to manage voltage swings on the network – a problem that has long existed for grid operators, but which they argue has been exacerbated by the uptake of rooftop solar.

And if any network was going to have a problem with managing residential solar exports, it might be Ergon, which has more than 140,000 home and business PV systems connected to its grid.

The use of “statcoms” – rather than “tapping” voltage at sub stations, or limiting the solar generation and/or output of households – is considered to be more efficient and consumer friendly, even if it is not necessarily the most economic option.

In a statement on Monday, Ergon said the voltage stabilising technology – or low voltage static synchronous compensators, or “statcoms” – had already been installed in Mossman, and would continue to be rolled out to other parts of the network.

The project has been estimated to cost $2.8 million, which will cover the cost of embedding the LV statcom technology across the Ergon Energy and Energex networks.

“Ergon Energy considers Statcoms as another tool for responding to rising voltages …They may not always be the most economic response in every situation, but they can be cost-effective in carefully targeted locations,” the network said in an email to OSOTG.

“At this stage batteries are not viewed as a cost effective solution but we continue to watch this emerging opportunity.