Australia’s first virtual power plant goes live in Adelaide

‘World’s largest virtual power plant’ switched on at West Lakes in Adelaide

Australia’s largest operating virtual power plant is now live with the first tranche of solar battery storage installations ‘switching on’ to power local homes and businesses across Adelaide.

This innovative and first of its kind project means home owners and small businesses can use more of the energy generated from their own rooftop solar systems, to lower power bills, reduce emissions and provide stability to South Australia’s grid challenges.

South Australia has been struggling with blackouts and near blackouts since last fall. That has prompted energy storage companies from ZEN Energy to Tesla to propose possible solutions.

AGL’s project, which will see 1,000 batteries installed in homes and businesses in South Australia, will create a virtual power plant of grid-connected batteries that can be remotely controlled.

AGL Energy Limited’s Virtual Power Plant project will operate as a 5 MW solar power plant by installing batteries that ‘talk’ to each other through a cloud-based platform to form a connected system.

In the first phase, until April 2017, the first 150 customers based in metropolitan Adelaide will be able to purchase a Sunverge 5 kW, 7.7 kWh storage system.

AGL says it is on track to have the 1000 batteries installed across Adelaide in the second half of next year.

AGL’s Managing Director & CEO Andy Vesey said the VPP will help with both security of energy supply and help customers to save on their energy bill.

“Our South Australian VPP demonstration is a practical example of the new energy future,” Andy Vesey said.

“We’re excited Australia’s largest operating residential VPP is ‘now live’ and the sixty plus batteries in homes across Adelaide are now linked by the smart software in our partner, Sunverge’s, cloud-based platform.”

Rather than sourcing electricity from large power stations outside cities, the cloud-based system allows AGL to operate the system virtually, harnessing power from the sun, captured and stored from residential rooftops. The virtual power plant will support the grid in times of instability and allow AGL to discharge electricity to homes in periods of peak demand.

The Turnbull Government, through the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) provided $5 million towards the $20 million project which project will connect 1,000 residential and business premises.

Recent energy outages in South Australia have shown that we must do everything we can to ensure the transition to a lower emissions future does not compromise the reliability, affordability or safety of our energy system, Minister for the Environment and Energy Hon. Josh Frydenberg MP said in his statement.

Earlier this year, the Prime Minister requested ARENA and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation work together on a new funding round for large-scale storage and other flexible capacity projects. This battery storage project is a great example of flexible capacity solutions and large-scale storage projects that secure energy supply, integrate renewable energy sources and enhance grid stability.

The Government’s investment in low emission technologies will help to deliver reliable and affordable energy as we move to a lower emissions future.

AGL is rolling out the project in three phases. Participants in the project will be able to purchase a heavily discounted storage systems that include hardware, software and installation. So far, the project reportedly has more than 300 kWh of battery capacity and has delivered 10,000 kWh of power.

Here’s how AGL explains the system:

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About the Author: Akhtar Jamal

Tribune International