World’s Largest Virtual Power Plant in SA

AGL, ARENA, and Sunvergence collaborate to launch the world’s largest virtual power plant (VPP) in South Australia.

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AGL are set to launch the world’s largest virtual power plant (VPP) in South Australia. Announced last week, the $20 million project aims to install 1,000 centrally controlled batteries in residential and business properties in South Australia.

With a $5 million commitment from The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) plus batteries and control systems supplied by Sunvergence, the project looks to enhance grid stability, reduce power volatility, and support renewable energy.

The VPP consists of installing multiple batteries alongside solar photovoltaics (PV) at a number of different properties, while a cloud-connected control system links the individual units and regulates them in unison.

This system will enable consumers to use their stored power throughout peak hours while still having the individual units contribute to grid stability.

AGL’s Managing Director and CEO, Andy Vesey said the VPP is capable of having an output equivalent to a 5 MW solar peaking plant and can store 7 MWh of energy.

In launching the project, Vasey added, “it offers consumers the opportunity to be part of the world’s largest virtual power plant, giving them greater ability to consume more of the energy generated from their own rooftop solar systems, lowering power bills, reducing emissions and purchasing a battery at a significant discount.”

While the project initially aims to assist with grid stability and reduce energy costs for consumers, it hopes to eventually create new sources of stability with renewable energy by examining the connections between electricity networks, retailers, consumers, and market operators.

CEO of ARENA, Ivor Frischknecht explored the potential future use, “ARENA expects virtual power plants to play a significant role in the future as more renewable energy is connected to our power networks. The approach can ease local network constraints in South Australia, displace gas power and complement the Victorian interconnector, especially during times of peak demand.”

The project is setting the pace for Australia’s movement towards incorporating renewable energy, particularly with battery storage.

This recent project shows the development of Australia leading towards battery storage. Earlier this year, the Western Australia Government had a similar trial in collaboration with Tesla to install residential solar energy and battery storage on residential properties.

Frischknecht believes that “Australia is on the cusp of a battery storage revolution as technology costs continue to fall.”