World’s largest ‘vir­tual power plant’

The Australian Energy Review - - NEWS - EL­IZ­A­BETH FABRI

US tech gi­ant Tesla and the South Aus­tralian Govern­ment have un­veiled plans to build the world’s largest ‘vir­tual power plant’ that will see 50,000 so­lar and bat­tery sys­tems in­stalled across homes in the State. In early Fe­bru­ary, six weeks out from the State elec­tion, South Aus­tralia Premier Jay Weather­ill an­nounced Tesla had be­gun a trial on 1100 res­i­den­tial prop­er­ties, which will re­ceive a 5kw so­lar panel sys­tem and 13.5kwh Tesla Pow­er­wall 2 bat­tery at no cost. At the con­clu­sion of the trial, sys­tems will be in­stalled at an ad­di­tional 24,000 hous­ing trust homes and thou­sands more house­holds over the next four years at an es­ti­mated cost of $800 mil­lion. The 250 megawatt (MW) ‘vir­tual plant’ was ex­pected to lower en­ergy bills for par­tic­i­pat­ing house­holds by 30 per cent, ac­cord­ing to anal­y­sis by Fron­tier Eco­nomics. Mr Weather­ill, who faces elec­tion on 17 March, said the State Govern­ment will pro­vide a $2 mil­lion grant to sup­port the project and $30 mil­lion loan from the Re­new­able Tech­nol­ogy Fund. “My Govern­ment has al­ready de­liv­ered the world’s big­gest bat­tery, of now we will de­liver the world’s largest Vir­tual Power Plant,” Mr Weather­ill said. “We will use peo­ple’s homes as a way to gen­er­ate en­ergy for the South Aus­tralian grid, with par­tic­i­pat­ing house­holds ben­e­fit­ting with sig­nif­i­cant sav­ings in their en­ergy bills.” Mr Weather­ill also an­nounced if re-elected his Govern­ment would lift the State’s re­new­able en­ergy tar­get from 50 per cent to 75 per cent by 2025, and com­mit to a Re­new­able Stor­age Tar­get of 750MW of en­ergy stor­age ca­pac­ity by 2025; a quar­ter of the State’s av­er­age peak de­mand. The pledge was met with mixed re­views, with Fed­eral En­ergy min­is­ter Josh Fry­den­berg la­belling the idea as a “thought bub­ble”. “He is a prob­lem gam­bler dou­bling down to chase his losses,” Mr Fry­den­berg said.

“We will use peo­ple’s homes as a way to gen­er­ate en­ergy for the South Aus­tralian grid, with par­tic­i­pat­ing house­holds ben­e­fit­ting with sig­nif­i­cant sav­ings in their en­ergy bills.”

Im­age: Tesla.

As part of the project, homes will be equipped with Tesla’s 13.5kwh Pow­er­wall 2 recharge­able lithium-ion bat­tery.

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