Second virtual power plant coming to Adelaide


Wednesday, 28 March, 2018


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The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has announced its support for the development of an Adelaide-based virtual power plant — a centrally managed network of battery systems installed behind the meter that can be collectively controlled.

The $23 million trial, to which ARENA is contributing $7.7 million, will see energy retailer Simply Energy deliver up to 1200 Tesla batteries to homes with rooftop solar systems, providing 6 MW worth of energy storage. A further 2 MW worth of demand response capacity will be deployed across 10 commercial businesses.

The three-year trial will give SA Power Networks greater visibility of behind-the-meter battery storage and access to those batteries to manage demand and address local network constraints. Individual customers will be able to increase the amount of rooftop solar power they consume by storing the solar-generated energy and using it later when they would otherwise be consuming power from the grid. The battery systems are also able to provide backup power in the event of an outage.

The virtual power plant project will also develop energy start-up GreenSync’s innovative distributed energy exchange (deX) platform to a commercial scale. The deX platform was developed by GreenSync with the support of ARENA to provide an energy marketplace where energy capacity can be transacted between businesses, households, communities and utilities in response to price signals from the network owner.

“The Simply Energy project benefits both individual Adelaide households and the broader South Australian community,” said Minister for the Environment and Energy Josh Frydenberg.

“Households can use more energy generated from their own rooftop solar systems to lower their power bills and the community reaps the benefits of a more stable grid.”

Simply Energy’s virtual power plant will be the second in South Australia after ARENA previously provided $5 million in funding to AGL to establish a virtual power plant of 1000 households and businesses across Adelaide. ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht said this project will build on the AGL plant.

“We think consumer energy resources have a huge role to play in Australia’s energy future, but we are still figuring out how we can orchestrate rooftop solar and home batteries to feed back into the grid,” Frischknecht said. “This is technically hard to do, which is why these pilot projects are so important.

“This is a potential model for how distributed energy resources can be operated at large scale in the future to help reduce energy prices.

“This trial will also demonstrate the commercial benefits of integrating a virtual power plant into a distributed energy market platform such as deX.”

Simply Energy CEO Carly Wishart said Adelaide households will be able to participate in the trial, which will see the home battery system delivered at a subsidised price.

“We will work closely with South Australian Power Networks to give both networks and the market operator greater visibility of behind-the-meter batteries and the ability to use batteries to manage demand and manage network constraints, reducing network costs,” she said.

“It’s a win-win, because our customers are getting better value from their renewable energy solution and the network will have more electricity sources from which to draw, which in turn improves reliability, particularly at times of peak demand.”

The virtual power plant is expected to be up and running by the end of 2019.

Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/ymgerman

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