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South Australia has launched Phase 3 of its Virtual Power Plant (VPP) based on Tesla home batteries. To the existing 1,100, another 3,000 public housing properties were added, kicking off a “world-first” deal to procure a Big Battery’s worth of grid support services.
Energy Minister Dan van Holst Pellekaan said on Friday that the latest $60.6 million expansion of the Tesla VPP would extend the scope to 4,100 Housing SA properties across the state. And they are on track to reach the ultimate goal of 50,000 South Australian homes, both public and private, reports One Step Off The Grid.
Housing SA tenants will receive a free installation of a 5kW rooftop solar system and a 13.5kWh Tesla Powerwall 2 battery. Tenants will pay a flat electricity rate at 22% lower than the standard market offer.
Phase 3 SA VPP will combine approximately 20 MW of rooftop solar and 54 MW of combined battery storage to act as a single “power plant” that can send surplus solar energy to the grid and can provide voltage and frequency support as well as synthetic inertia.
“In a world-first, home batteries will provide the grid stability services that South Australia has lacked since the closure of the Northern Power Station, to address the legacy of instability that we inherited,” said van Holst Pellekaan.
"This will deliver at a household level what we are also delivering through the 50% expansion of the big battery at Hornsdale Battery to address these legacy issues."
The creation of VPPs with solar panels and batteries is expected to play a key role in managing the state's vast solar resources in a way that benefits all parties.
“Having rooftop PV and household batteries linked through a Virtual Power Plant creates the equivalent of a grid-scale battery in our suburbs and towns, which will complement the four other grid-scale batteries already operating in South Australia,” van Holst Pellekaan added.
"Tesla's vision is to grow this VPP to include 50,000 homes across South Australia and has already started adding private households in addition to the Housing SA tenants participating in the project," said van Holst Pellekaan.
In its own statement, Tesla said SA VPP was the first virtual power plant in Australia to help stabilize network frequency levels, and as of August 2020 was one of only two in Australia to do so.
For its part, Tesla is contributing $18 million to the expansion, alongside $10 million from the state government, an $8.2 million grant from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), and a $30 million loan from the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC).
“We expect to see decentralized battery fleet systems become an increasingly important feature of the grid of the future, drawing on fast ramping services, voltage management and synthetic inertia,” said CEFC CEO Ian Learmonth.
Learmonth also highlighted the benefits of the program for households that previously could not have access to solar panels or storage. After all, renters are often denied access to the clean energy market because they cannot install rooftop solar systems on their rental property. But, SA VPP provides Housing SA tenants with an innovative green energy solution, backed by proven and economical technologies.
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