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Australian Renewable Energy Agency provides funding for second virtual power plant in Adelaide

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has announced a A$7.7-million funding for Simply Energy to build a second virtual power plant in Adelaide.

The virtual power plant is a centrally-managed network of battery systems installed behind-the-meter that can be collectively controlled to deliver benefits to households, energy retailers and the local network.

Simply Energy’s virtual power plant will be the second in South Australia, after ARENA previously provided A$5 million in funding to AGL to establish a virtual power plant of 1,000 households and businesses across Adelaide.

The A$23-million project will deliver Tesla Powerwall 2 home batteries to up to 1,200 Adelaide households representing 6 MW of residential energy storage. A further 2 MW of demand response capacity will be deployed across 10 commercial businesses.

“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. This is technically hard to do, which is why these pilot projects are so important,” said ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht.

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

Individual customers will benefit from reduced power costs as they are 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 3-year trial will give South Australia Power Networks (SAPN) greater visibility of behind the meter battery storage and access to those batteries as distributed energy resources that can be used to address local network constraints and manage demand.

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

According to Mr Frischknecht, 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.

The virtual power plant is expected to be complete and start operation by the end of 2019.

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