South Australia Virtual Power Plant

250 MW/650 MWh Virtual Power Plant to be built in South Australia from 50,000 homes

Tesla and South Australia continue to deepen their love affair. After the initial successes of Tesla’s 100 MW battery storage system, built to respond to the power outages of the previous summer, South Australia is keen to mark itself as a green technology leader by announcing the world’s largest virtual power plant (VPP).

The announcement shows a marked increase in size and scale of the technology, rivalling a traditional coal or gas generation facility. 50,000 homes will be fitted with 13.5 kWh Tesla Powerwall 2 battery and a 5 kW rooftop solar system. Together, the aggregated resources are to deliver up to 250 MW of solar and provide 350 MWh of total energy storage. The $800m pound project will receive a $2m grant and $30m loan from the South Australian government but private investors will be sought for additional funding.

The estimated project completion date is summer 2022, with construction beginning on the initial stage of the project this year. Test installation of solar and storage will take place on 1,100 social housing units, with 600 slated to be completed by the end of 2018. Once the trial phase is successful, a further 24,000 social housing units will be added. Finally, participation in the project will be opened to the public and units installed en masse.

Australia has been at the forefront of renewable energy in recent years due to a combination of greenhouse emission targets and rising power prices. Renewables penetration has been admirable but has left the country, and especially South Australia, vulnerable to inconsistent supply and power outages. Rising gas prices have also pushed up energy costs. The state government anticipate that the large-capacity VPP will be both beneficial to the grid and reduce the energy bills of participating consumers up to 30%.

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