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South Australian Government unveils plan to build world’s largest Virtual Power Plant

South Australian Government unveils plan to build world’s largest Virtual Power Plant

The State Government of South Australia (SA) plans
to roll out a network of at least 50,000 home solar and battery systems across
South Australia –  comprising 5kW solar photovoltaic (PV) and 5kW/13.5kWh Tesla
Powerwall 2 batteries, plus a smart meter - working together to form the
world’s largest Virtual
Power Plant
.

A virtual power plant is created by a network of home solar PV
and battery systems working together to generate, store and feed energy back
into the grid. The energy generated from the systems will provide electricity
for the house on which they are installed. Any excess energy will be
automatically dispatched to the grid and it will be centrally controlled to
meet the needs of the grid, providing additional energy to the rest of the
state, when it is required.

If the household consumes more electricity than is available
from the energy system, it will draw from the grid instead.  All
electricity consumed by the household (whether from the energy system or the
grid) will be metered and charged for through the household electricity
bill. 

The programme will begin with trial installations on 1100
Housing SA properties at no charge to the household. The installations will be
financed through the sale of electricity. Initial phase 1 installs have already
occurred and will continue throughout 2018 and 2019.

Following the trial, systems will be installed at a further
24,000 Housing Trust properties, and then a similar deal offered to all South
Australian households, with a plan for at least 50,000 households to
participate over the next four years.

The prioritisation of the installations will be determined
during the trial phases. Criteria may include geographical spread for
installation efficiency combined with optimising the security of the
distribution network.

Tesla will review all properties to determine whether or not
they are able to support a system and participate in the programme. Renewal SA will also provide advice on
suitable properties to ensure installations complement existing regeneration
programs.

A registration of interest has been opened for members of
the public who wish to participate in the programme. The Government will release
a market notice later this week for a retailer to deliver the program, with a
preference of bringing a new player into the market.

The 250MW/650MWh plant, which is how big it will be at the
end of the 4.5-year schedule, can meet around 20% of South Australia’s average
daily energy requirements.

According to analysis by Frontier Economics, the virtual
power plant is expected to lower energy bills for participating households by
30 per cent. Additionally, all South Australians will also benefit from the
increased generation in the South Australian energy mix, with lower energy
prices and increased energy stability.

The State Government is assisting the rollout with a AU$2
million grant and AU$30 million loan from the Renewable
Technology Fund
. The total value of the project is currently estimated at
approximately $800 million which will come from investors. Proposals under the
Renewable Technology Fund were received through an open call for proposals in
September 2017.

Today’s announcement is the next phase in the State
Government’s Energy Plan, which
aims to deliver cleaner, more affordable and more reliable energy to South
Australians, at an estimated cost of AU$550 million. Initiatives taken under
the plan include the construction
of a 150 MW solar thermal power plants, which is expected to supply all of the
state government’s power needs and the launch
of the Hornsdale Power Reserve, featuring the world’s largest lithium ion
battery (100 MW/129 MWh) in December 2017. In another recent announcement,
the South Australian Produce Market revealed plans for a AU$10.5 million
microgrid, with the help of a AU$2.5 million State Government Energy
Productivity Program grant. This is understood to be the largest private solar
PV system in South Australia.

A recent report by the Australian Energy Market Commission
said that energy prices in South Australia are expected to fall by
approximately $300 over the next two years for the average household.

Premier Jay
Weatherill said,“Our energy plan means that we are leading the
world in renewable energy and now we are making it easier for more homes to
become self-sufficient”.

“What this
project will do is connect thousands of solar and battery systems to make one
giant, coordinated virtual power plant. Once again South Australia is at the
global forefront of renewable energy and storage technology,” commented Energy Minister, Tom Koutsantonis.

Social Housing
Minister, Zoe Bettison, added,We know that people in social
housing can often struggle meeting their everyday needs and this initiative
will take some pressure off their household budget.”