Solar and other generation
Solar and Other Generation Systems
The sections below provide more information regarding embedded generation (eg solar, batteries, wind, etc) and how to connect to the UE network.
An Embedded Generator is a device that converts a form of energy (such as wind, solar etc) into electricity and is connected to our network. This generated electricity can then be used to power your home and any excess is exported on to our network.
Solar panels (or solar PV) on the roof of your home or business converts energy from the sun into electricity. When the sun is shining, your panels are converting the sun’s energy into electricity that you can use. At night or when it’s cloudy, you draw the electricity you need from our network.Solar panels are normally connected to an inverter which coverts electricity for your home and our network.
Batteries allow excess electrical energy to be stored at a premise. At a later time, they can then provide this energy back to you or our network as electricity.For example, instead of exporting excess electricity produced by a solar generator (panels and inverter) on to our network, it is used to charge your battery. When the solar generator is not producing electricity in the evening, the battery provides the stored excess electricity back to you and our network.
United Energy considers battery storage to be a form of generation and therefore is included in the total generation capacity for the premises.
A Micro Embedded Generator is a sub-classification of Embedded Generator. The key defining features of an Micro Embedded Generator is that the total generator capacity to the network point of connection:
- cannot exceed 30kW (max 10kW per phase), and
- must use AS4777 compliant inverters.
Most residential solar and battery applications fall into the Micro Embedded Generator category.
Any application which does not meet the Micro Embedded Generation criteria will be assessed under the Embedded Generation process.
Installing solar on your home or business is one of the many ways you can take control of your electricity use and reduce your bill. Installing solar comes with many benefits but the efficiency of your solar PV system can degrade over time. It is important to maintain your system to make sure that you are getting the most out of your investment.
Regular maintenance checks can help ensure your installation meets safety requirements and is operating efficiently. We suggest you organise these through a registered electrical contractor or your installer.
The dustier your area, the more frequent inspection is recommended. This ensures that dirt, grime, bird droppings and debris do not block the sun from efficient absorption by the panels.
It is important that you understand your obligations. Under the Electricity Distribution Code owners of small embedded generators must comply with the code under its generation license.
- Ensure that your generating source is capable of continuous uninterrupted operation at the system frequency of 50 Hz (or within any allowable variation that applies).
- Ensure that your generating source and any associated equipment that is connected to the electricity network complies with Victoria’s Electricity Distribution Code, the Electricity Safety Act 1998 and all relevant Australian Standards and is maintained in a safe condition.
- Ensure that your generating source’s electrical protection device meets the requirements of our electricity distribution system at all times. All grid interactive solar inverters which are connected to the United Energy network have to comply with AS4777 Australian Standard.
To help you understand and meet these obligations, we recommend the Clean Energy Council’s Guide to Installing PV for Households, which contains a section on maintenance on page 20.
To help clarify these definitions, we have provided a comparison:
|Micro Embedded Generation||Embedded Generation|
|Energy Source||Typically Solar, but other sources such as Battery, Wind, Fuel Cell, etc||Fossil Fuel, Solar, Hydro, Wind, Battery, etc…|
|Generator Type||AS4777 compliant inverter||Any|
|Total Capacity on premises (kW)||30kW or less
|Connection Service||Basic Connection||Negotiated Connection|
|Typical Connections||Residential Solar/Battery||Commercial Scale Solar
Wind Farms, Fossil Fuel Conventional Synchronous Machines
For further information regarding the definitions, technical considerations and the connection process for connecting generators to the United Energy network, please see below.
The technical standard UE ST 2008 outlines the connection requirements for all Embedded Generation (inc Micro) connections.
Please note that UE does not provide standard connection services (as defined in the NER) for any generation connection.
This section applies to most residential solar and or battery system installations.
Micro Embedded Generator Assessment Criteria
In order to be considered for the Basic Micro Embedded Generation connection, the following conditions must be satisfied:
- The total generation capacity at point of connection must be 30kW or less (max 10kW per phase)
- The generator technology to the network connection point must be inverter based
- The inverter must be AS4777 compliant and registered on the Clean Energy Council Approved Inverters list.
If you are a customer and do not satisfy the above conditions, you can:
- Reduce your proposed generator size to be 30kW or less (max 10kW per phase)
- Install an inverter which is AS4777 compliant (please see the Clean Energy Council website for a list of Approved Inverters)
Please be aware that the AS4777 inverter standard is currently under review. This may have an impact on the Approved Inverter List and therefore your application. Please consult the Clean Energy Council Inverter List for the latest version.
If you do not satisfy the above requirements, please refer to the Embedded Generation section on this page.
Modifications to Existing Micro Embedded Generators
The generator owner may only modify the Micro Embedded Generator, without approval from UE, in the following instances:
- When performing a like for like replacement of the inverter (same model, capacity and made by the same manufacturer)
- When performing a like for like replacement of modules/panels (there must be no increase in the rating of the modules)
- When replacing an isolator/switch with an equivalent isolator/switch.
For all other modifications the generator owner must obtain UE’s prior approval.
At all times, the Total Installed Capacity of the Micro Embedded Generator must not exceed 10kW for single phase systems and or 30kW for three phase systems after modification. Any Embedded Generators above this capacity condition must receive authorisation from UE prior to any connection to the UE network.
Whether you’re a residential or business customer, it’s easy to connect to solar with United Energy.
If you satisfy the above requirements above and wish to install a micro embedded generator:
- Contact a registered electrical contractor or a solar specialist to organise the installation. Here’s a list of installers accredited by the Clean Energy Council
- Lodge a solar connection application by following the steps for Basic Connections found on our Connections page
- If you need any other information to help with your connection, please call our Connections team at 1300 131 689.
Read more about the Victorian Government’s feed-in tariffs for solar energy.
You may request a Negotiated Embedded Generation Connection. Please note that this process is more involved.
For further information regarding:
- Negotiated Embedded Generation Connections
- Basic Load Connections
- Negotiated Load Connections
Please see the Connections page.
The generator owner has ongoing obligations to maintain and operate the customer’s generation system in a safe manner as per the relevant regulations, standards and Model Standing Offer. The Solar PV Anti Island Test document provides guidance regarding the testing of the anti island protection for inverter based generation.
United Energy supports the installation of customer-owned embedded generators by commercial and industrial businesses who desire to generate electrical energy for their own needs or to export energy to the electricity distribution network. Depending upon the technology and design, embedded generators may provide some benefits including improved security of supply, environmental benefits such as lower greenhouse gas emissions and in some specific cases electricity network benefits by reducing demand on the electricity network when it is under pressure due to high loads.
Embedded generators can produce power from various sources. Examples include combined heat and power units (cogeneration) using gas or diesel fired engines, hydro generators, wind turbines and solar photovoltaic (PV) arrays. Generators can also range in type and size from a commercial solar photovoltaic inverter generator above 10kW per phase to utility scale wind farm ranging hundreds of megawatts in capacity.
The following section outlines the connection framework for Embedded Generators (typically above 30kW), all of which are treated as a negotiated connection service.
There are two connection frameworks/processes available and they are based on the National Electricity Rules.
- between 30kW and 5MW, use the Chapter 5A framework, which has been streamlined for smaller connections and hence generally less stringent requirements providing an efficient processing time
- above 5MW use the Chapter 5 framework, which is for larger generator connections and the connection process is more involved.
A customer applying for a connection between 30kW and 5MW may request in writing to be connected under the Chapter 5 process.
For negotiated load connections, please refer to Negotiated Connections.
How to Obtain an Embedded Generation Connection
If your connection fits the above definition, then to obtain a negotiated connection there are standard steps outlined in the following documents:
The technical standard UE ST 2008 outlines the connection requirements for all Embedded Generation connections. It forms the basis for negotiation for all negotiated Embedded Generation connections.
Register of Completed Embedded Generation Projects
As per the National Electricity Rules (NER), United Energy is required to publish a register of completed Embedded Generation projects every year by the Distribution Annual Planning Report (DAPR) date for:
- Non Registered Embedded Generation (between 30kW and 5MW)
- Registered Embedded Generation (above 5MW)
The DAPR date falls on the 31st December each year. The definitions of Registered and Non Registered are as per the NER.
The UE network is built to satisfy the peak demand for electricity which only occurs for a few hours on a few days each year. This requires substantial investment to fulfill a need that only occurs much less than 1% of the time. Customers who can control and limit their demand at these critical times or can generate electricity at these times, have the ability to assist UE manage the peak demand and potentially avoid the need for expensive augmentation works.
We welcome approaches from organisations that are able to offer alternative solutions to meeting this peak demand in the form of demand response initiatives. Customers can benefit from participating in demand management programmes.
For more information regarding potential opportunities and benefits, please email us at email@example.com.