South Australian utility deploying 'world's largest' virtual power plant

Dive Brief:

  • Australian electric utility AGL has brought online what it says is the world’s largest residential virtual power plant.

  • AGL has so far installed batteries in over 60 homes in suburban Adelaide, South Australia, in a project that is expected to have 1,000 grid-connected batteries with a total peak capacity of 5 MW and 7 MWh when completed in about 18 months.

  • The federal government, through the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, is providing up to $5 million to support the $20 million project.

Dive Insight:

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 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. 

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 customers with sufficient excess solar generation could see a seven year payback period. Customers that do not already have solar systems will be able to purchase a solar system appropriate to the size of the battery.

Later phases of the project will see an offering to narrower zones within metropolitan Adelaide where peak demand management and other network support services can be demonstrated.

AGL says the project will contribute to grid stability and support higher levels of intermittent, renewable generation on the grid.

“This project is core to AGL’s strategy of being a manager of distributed energy resources. It also leverages our investment in Sunverge and helps us to continue to improve the digital customer experience,” Andy Vesey, AGL Managing Director & CEO, said in a statement.

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Filed Under: Solar & Renewables Energy Storage Distributed Energy Regulation & Policy
Top image credit: Sunverge