The Australian Energy Market Commission has released its final report for the Review into Consumer Energy Resources Technical Standards, calling for the development of a national regulatory framework to improve compliance with technical standards for rooftop solar and other distributed energy resources.
The review found “significant non-compliance” with existing rooftop solar inverter standards, with only 37% of new rooftop solar connections correctly configured according to the standards in the first quarter of 2022. The commission warned that non-compliance poses “immediate concerns and undermines confidence in the effective implementation of any future” standards.
To address these issues, the commission recommended that “energy ministers lead the development of a national regulatory framework for consumer energy resources technical standards.” The framework should consider several options, including expanding the role of the Australian Energy Regulator and Clean Energy Regulator. The commission said the framework should aim to “regulate the full range of consumer energy resources parties on a national electricity market-wide basis” and “improve coordination between jurisdictions.”
The commission also recommended 10 immediate actions that “industry and market bodies should undertake without changes to the National Electricity Law or National Electricity Rules to improve consumer outcomes.” These actions span the lifecycle of rooftop solar devices, including simplifying inverter settings during manufacturing, improving training and guidance for installers, and enabling remote updates of non-compliant devices. For example, the commission recommended that original equipment manufacturers “make AS4777.2:2020 ‘Region A’ (mainland NEM jurisdictions) the default ‘top of the list’ setting on new” rooftop solar inverters.
The commission estimated that implementing all of its recommended immediate actions could achieve “near-universal compliance of new connections” with rooftop solar standards. Commission chief executive Benn Barr said the recommendations are “critical first steps to realising the benefits of increasing amounts of rooftop solar and other distributed energy resources in the national electricity market.” However, he noted that “regulatory reform will still be needed to achieve comprehensive and long-term compliance.”
The commission will continue to work with industry and governments to oversee the adoption of its recommendations and progress toward improved standards compliance and a national regulatory framework for distributed energy resources.