Renewable Energy Systems Australia (RESA) has received approval for its VoltLogic to be connected to the grid under the Australian standard for solar system inverters, AS4777. The certification is of course a major milestone for RESA and the VoltLogic, but it is also significant for what it means for grid-connected solar more generally. One of the VoltLogic’s key features is its export-limiting functionality, and it is among the first devices with this capacity to be AS4777-certified.
The ability for an inverter to limit solar export and manage electricity quality is becoming increasingly important as solar PV systems grow in popularity and number. In response to the increased penetration of solar on their grids, network companies are introducing increasingly strict rules on grid-connect solar PV system power quality, especially in ‘fragile’ or ‘thin’ grids like that of WA‘s Horizon Power. In some regions, export of solar power to the grid may be restricted or prohibited outright, making it difficult for those who want to go solar to do.
The VoltLogic, as a multi-function, STATCOM cum inverter device, was designed to address the concerns of network companies, making it possible for solar installations that would have otherwise been rejected to proceed and connect to the grid. To this end, RESA has a number of pilot projects underway in conjunction with network operators throughout the country, including a flagship project in the Northern Territory instituted with the direct involvement of local utility Power & Water. More projects are in the works with South Australia’s SP AusNet, Queensland’s Ergon, and NSW’s Essential. The company also has plans for similar VoltLogic projects with SA Power Networks and Tasmania’s Aurora, as well as the intention working with WA’s network companies once the others have been cleared.
Since the Australian solar PV industry began to take off around just under 5 years ago, conventional, centralised solar inverters have long dominated the market. The VoltLogic’s approval, however, is indicative of the growing number of alternative inverter technology options that are becoming available in Australia. Relatedly, in another sign of how the market is changing, updates to the AS4777 standard introduced in 2013 covered not only power quality and more detailed grid-connection guidelines for distributed solar (some of which the VoltLogic seeks to address), but also for the first time explicitly dealt with microinverters, which are now more affordable and commonplace than just a couple of years ago.
© 2014 Solar Choice Pty Ltd