According to a recent report by the ANU Energy Change Institute, Australia has about 9 GW of roof mounted solar PV deployed, which is by far the largest per capita rooftop-PV deployment in the world1. So how do energy retailers and infrastructure engineers ensure that people feel confident that their new solar panel, or their battery, or their electric vehicle charger is safe and performs as advertised? This is where Standards Australia comes in.
Keeping pace with rapid change
As distributed energy technology – in other words, the infrastructure that homes and businesses can buy and adopt to generate, use, and store energy – takes off at breakneck speed, it’s important to ensure that our regulatory standards keep pace.
Standards Australia is the peak body for developing these standards. It’s our representative on international standards bodies like ISO and IEC. Standards Australia also works closely with its cross-Tasman counterpart, Standards New Zealand, to develop joint AS/NZS standards.
But closer to home, a select few AGL people work behind the scenes on the Standards Australia committees to ensure that the customer voice is heard in the process of setting these standards.
Giving the customer a voice
One of our representatives is Sean Thor, an Integration & Technical Compliance Lead.
His electrical trade qualifications and project management background, including supervising field installations, place him in good stead to decipher the impact of a flurry of imminent changes to AS3000 – the wiring rules that govern electrical design, construction, and installation. Or, more simply, the rules that ensure we can all safely use household appliances, like our TV or kettle.
AGL Integration & Technical Compliance Lead Sean Thor
Sean sits on EL-001, which is the committee which is considering the wiring rules changes. He represents the Australian Energy Council (AEC), providing a vital customer perspective to the technical standards development committee.
‘I tend to come from the customer approach. It’s important that they have a voice in developing these standards,’ he said.
Sean also sits on other committees that oversee technologies like inverter systems, batteries, and solar tech. Some of the standards he deals with have evolved constantly for decades, and he’s enjoyed the opportunity to bring a modern view to them.
‘It’s been interesting to see how the standards have developed over decades,’ he said. ‘There are people who’ve been there for 30 years.
It’s historically rare for a retailer to have such hands-on involvement. In many cases in the past, industry involvement has meant being invited to comment – on a restricted basis – after the standards have been developed.
However, as we have broadened from energy provider to offering distributed energy resources and orchestration, it’s important that we are our customer’s voice on technical standard setting.
It’s a delicate balance of maintaining a safe, fair, and up-to-date approach for all parties amid the rapidly changing environment of energy innovation.
AGL’s involvement on Standards Australia committees
We participate in the following standards development committees on behalf of the AEC:
- EL-001 (Australian wiring rules): this committee considers connection and protection requirements for solar and battery inverters and electric vehicle chargers.
- El-042 (renewable energy power supply systems and equipment): this committee considers installation and performance requirements for solar and battery inverters.
- EL-054 (remote demand management of electric products): this committee considers how household products like air conditioners, water heaters, and electrical vehicle chargers will be able to communicate and respond.
- EL-064 (decentralised electrical energy and grid integration of renewable energy systems): this committee considers future standards for grid-connection of distributed energy resource (DER) systems, including virtual power plants).
AGL also sits on the technical reference group for the battery energy storage performance standard being developed by the Smart Energy Council.
1 Page 2, ‘Powering ahead: Australia leading the world in renewable energy build rates’, The Energy Change Institute, Australian National University, Published 4 September 2019. Link last accessed 22 January 2020.