AGL’s virtual power plant goes live

SA Power Networks, VPP

Australia’s largest operating virtual power plant is now live with the first tranche of solar battery storage installations ‘switching on’ to power local homes and businesses across Adelaide.

Batteries installed in homes throughout Adelaide are now orchestrated to simultaneously aggregate the battery discharge via smart software in a cloud-based platform, giving critical mass to the VPP generation capabilities.

AGL managing director and CEO Andy Vesey said the 5MW peaking capacity of the VPP can help with security of supply and help customers to save on their energy bill.

“Our South Australian VPP demonstration is a practical example of the new energy future,” he said.

“We’re excited Australia’s largest operating residential VPP is now live and the 60-plus batteries in homes across Adelaide are now linked by the smart software in our partner, Sunverge’s, cloud-based platform – this shows it can be done and done successfully.”

AGL estimates customers in the VPP trial will save around $500 per year on their energy bill.

This is in addition to participants having received a battery which was heavily subsidised by AGL.

“The demonstration is also proving the value of batteries in the energy transition ­ offering an alternative capacity to thermal plants as they phase out, enabling high penetration of renewables in the SA grid by allowing intermittent renewable energy to be used when it’s needed, rather than when it’s produced,” Mr Vesey said.

Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) is providing up to $5 million funding to support the $20 million project.

“This trial will pave the way for more virtual power plants to be added to our networks, increasing energy security and reliability by enabling networks to capture, store and deliver solar direct from customers’ roofs, rather than relying solely on grid infrastructure,” ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht said.

“So far, the SA VPP has produced more than 300kW of battery capacity, with more than 200kW of associated solar capacity.

“This means it has a peak output of more than half a megawatt. And the VPP has stored and delivered more than 10,000 kWh to date.”

“A key point to remember is that while individual customers benefit, their participation can benefit their collective community, by using the stored energy in their battery rather than drawing from the grid, which supports their local network and community.”

It is anticipated installation of all 1000 batteries will be completed by the second half of 2018.