South Australian households and businesses have set what the state’s electricity distributor believes is a world record: generating more electricity from solar than they consumed for periods of time on five different days in the past five weeks.

Key points:

  • Supply of solar-generated power outstripped demand on five occasions over the past five weeks 
  • SA Power Networks says it’s a world first for a gigawatt-scale power grid
  • The rapid growth of solar has created some challenges in managing the grid

SA Power Networks (SAPN), said the five events of so-called “negative demand” was a world first for a gigawatt-scale power grid.

“Negative demand” events mean that, as a whole, the network managed by SAPN was a “net exporter” of power to the grid.

The run of “negative demand” days began on Sunday, September 26, when supply outstripped demand for two-and-a-half hours.

All events occurred on weekends, when overall power consumption is normally lower.

On Halloween, October 31, the network managed by SAPN was a net contributor to the state’s energy supply for four hours.

The lowest net load on the distribution network was -69.4 megawatts in the half-hour ending at 1pm that day.

SAPN spokesman Paul Roberts says rooftop solar is contributing to decarbonisation of energy generation and to lower energy prices.(ABC News)

SAPN spokesman Paul Roberts said the development was an escalation in an ongoing trend.

“Rooftop solar is contributing to decarbonisation of our energy and to lower energy prices,” he said.

“Longer term, we hope to see a transport system where most vehicles will be fuelled by renewable-sourced electricity, including from solar rooftop PV.

“It is exciting to think that South Australia is leading the world in this transition and there is so much possibility for us, as a state, in making it happen as quickly as we can.”

The rapid growth of solar has prompted some challenges for SAPN in managing the South Australian grid.

Earlier this year, the company began using new powers to remotely switch off household solar panels when required at times of low demand and high solar output, to prevent the risk of blackouts caused by too much power returning to the grid.

In August, federal authorities also gave power companies the right to charge solar panel owners for exporting power to the grid, in a move designed to ease congestion on the grid.

Posted , updated