Recent changes to the National Electricity Rules gave the industry more certainty, but do they go far enough to facilitate a new breed of renewable generators?
Recent updates to the Rules give the renewable energy industry more certainty on timeframes and processes for establishing new network connections, but according to key players, they don't go far enough.
The revised Rules detail new processes for connection for smaller generators (up to 5MW) and for larger generators (above 5MW).
Smaller generators now deal with a shorter and more flexible regime, while larger generators are subject to a longer, more defined and detailed process.
Feedback from the renewable energy industry suggests that for solar and renewable energy to become more viable alternatives, especially in urban areas with greater concentrations of customers, further changes to the Rules are required.
In the eyes of the renewable energy industry, the Rules do not guarantee connection for them, as they must negotiate directly with the networks for their connections. This results in the renewable energy industry's view that it is too difficult to introduce additional renewable generation capacity into the electricity market within a suitable time frame.
They are advocating for the introduction of a regulated access regime as a more effective alternative to ensure connection of renewable generators. The Clean Energy Council has indicated that it supports adoption of a regulated access regime in the Rules for the renewable energy industry.
It remains to be seen whether Governments will support this push or whether they take the view that the current regime provides sufficient assurances to the renewable industry concerning the connections they require given the need to balance these connections with the network owners issues of increased embedded generation and growing network management complexity.