Export limiter imposed by Essential Energy on solar installation

Hi Everyone,
I’ve run into a problem with my request to Essential Energy to upgrade my home solar installation. I have 5kW and wanted to add more panels but I have been advised by Essential Energy that they will be limiting me to 6kW and that has to be spread at 2kW per phase of my three-phase system. Furthermore, a 6kW limiter costing $600 would have to be placed on my system.
I could appreciate their explanation. There are 32 homeowners connected to each street transformer. Transformers are overheating because too much solar electricity is being fed into them instead of being consumed. As I am in a residential area, there is no industry on the other side of the road consuming power during the day and Essential Energy do not measure the load on adjacent transformers to consider if my solar output could help with an adjacent power draw.
I was also given to understand that in future, all new solar systems would require the installation of inverters that would measure the street voltage and cease supply of solar-generated electricity if the street voltage was too high. The future for solar generation offsetting a little of the night-time draw seems bleak.
Is my only option to install batteries? I have not heard anyone say that batteries are cost-effective.
Value your thoughts,
Andrew Mac

You are correct batteries are not cost effective. They serve two purposes and are necessary 1) during power outage smart inverters supply power with battery backup at night and solar recharge during the day/ 2) for self consumption at night. We are here in vriginia most of our customers are opting for battery backup.

Hi Andrew

Great topic, thanks for posting. It seems like we are getting to a place in parts of Australia where the grid operators need to be able to have more control over the electricity produced by solar systems. Which is great, in terms of the fact that solar is creating that much generation. I thought it was only South Australia that currently had the solar capacity to worry the distributors, however I think it makes sense to plan ahead and ensure the right controls are in place. I believe German grid operators have much more control than in Australia (they also have to highest rooftop PV penetration).

I guess we’ll be hearing a lot more about this over the next year, if that’s what distributors are starting to say. In which case, the financials of battery storage may start to change. Currently it simply doesn’t make sense financially to add batteries in most cases, but in a situation where the grid operators can essentially shut off your solar export rather than pay you for it, then the sums may change. The other thing that could happen to change the equation of battery storage is that if we have a high installation of smart meters, whilst grid operators may stop solar exports at times of low demand, they may on the other hand start to pay high amounts for exports in times or high demand. So if you have a full battery, and there’s demand for your power, you could get paid handsomely for it.

I hope more people with a bit more knowledge on the current policy of the distributors will give more info.


Hi Marty,
Thank you for your reply. I appreciated your insights and perspectives. I have heard whispers though, that if grid operators have access to cheaper coal generated electricity, they will be keen to refuse home-owner generated solar electricity, for which they have to pay more. From a business perspective, it would make sense for grid operators to flood the grid with coal generated electricity such that solar electricity from home-owners was not needed and could be “switched off”. A future where grid operators can shut down the solar exports of home-owners could almost make home solar a waste of money This would be particularly true for home-owners who are at work in daylight hours and the only electricity being consumed in their house is by the kitchen refrigerator.
Value your thoughts on whether there is any validity in this reasoning or if it is just disgruntled solar home-owner gossip.
Thanks again,

If only there were a sensible way to price carbon effectively, that economists and climate scientists agreed on, to allow the true value of coal and renewables to be reflected in the market :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

Whilst for the foreseeable future there is indeed going to continue to be strong coal lobbies, and governments that support the coal industry, I think it’s a little cynical to think that grid operators would want to, or more importantly, be allowed to essentially throw available solar energy down the drain in preference for burning otherwise unrequired coal.

The reality is that in Qld and SA more than 30% of houses have solar installed, in Vic and NSW it’s around 20%. It would be a brave (or stupid) government that not only allows that many voters financial investments to turn upside down, but also pisses off the majority of voters that want action on climate change. 2019 was the biggest year for rooftop solar in Australia, and solar and wind can now, after dramatic cost reductions over the last decade, stand up to coal and other fossil fuels without subsidies.

A carbon price would make this all a hell of a lot simpler, but even without it I can’t see any serious reversal away from our current trend toward more renewables and less coal.

I think the grid operators are facing a genuine technical challenge with increased rooftop solar. However, the solution to the challenge could most definitely become very political (just as the solution to Australia’s internet problem became very political).


Hi Marty,
Many thanks for your perspectives. They are greatly appreciated.
Best wishes,