The QLD Government has recently made changes to the Electricity Regulation 2006 to reduce the standard network voltage down from 240 volts +/-6 to 230 volts +10/-6. Which doesn’t sound very exciting however it does have a couple of benefits for consumers – firstly appliances will work much more efficiently at 230 volts which can lead to lower electricity bills and secondly the ongoing issue of voltage rise for consumers with solar power systems will be negated.
Excess electricity that is exported from rooftop solar into the power grid can cause network voltage levels to rise. If the voltages rise above 255 volts, which can easily happen is suburbs with a high penetration of solar power such as Pelican Waters, then solar inverters will either reduce the amount of power being produced or shut down altogether which is not great news for Sunshine Coast solar power system owners . In addition voltage rise increases the risk of electrical appliances performing poorly or, in some cases, being damaged.
In the past, the electricity distributors Energex (South East Queensland) and Ergon Energy (everywhere else) have had to invest significant resources to upgrade the electricity network and have tightened their solar power connection requirements. This made it harder, and in some cases more expensive, for Sunshine Coast consumers to install a solar power system.
The new Queensland voltage standards will give Energex and Ergon increased flexibility to operate the electricity network at lower voltages so it can cope with more power being exported into the grid from rooftop solar power systems. It is estimated that this will allow an additional 960 megawatts of residential solar (the equivalent of around 200,000 household solar systems) to be connected to the power grid with less need for costly network upgrades.