Tesla Powerwalls Rolled Out to Low-Income Residents in Australia to Build VPPs

Eva Fox by Eva Fox June 02, 2021

Tesla Powerwalls Rolled Out to Low-Income Residents in Australia to Build VPPs

Photo: Energy Magazine

A home battery scheme for low-income homes in South Australia will be expanded using Tesla Powerwalls. This will mark the next stage in the expansion of the Virtual Power Plant (VPP) project for financially distressed consumers.

A home battery scheme being rolled out in South Australia will be expanded to allow low-income residents without solar panels to participate, according to ABC News. The regional government has said the next phase of its virtual power plant (VPP) project will result in lower energy prices for struggling consumers. The VPP expansion will also reduce the load on the network by storing the excess power generated during times of low demand.

A project to install solar panels and Tesla Powerwalls in South Australian homes was announced in 2018. As of today, solar panels and batteries have been installed free of charge in 1,100 Housing SA homes. The cost of the project is financed through the sale of electricity generated by the panels. However, not everyone who wanted to participate was able to get the panels and power storage systems they wanted. Some of the houses did not have sufficient access to light due to trees or the roof was installed in the wrong direction, and in some instances roofs were not structurally suitable for solar installation. Therefore, a new variant scheme will be tested in 20 housing trust homes that were not suited for solar.

"Now we have an opportunity to go back to those homes...and say, 'We've got a different style of offer. We will give you a free battery, in partnership with Tesla'," said Energy Minister Dan van Holst Pellekaan.

Even though homes will not have solar panels, thanks to Tesla Powerwalls, electricity bills will be reduced. Munno Para resident Wendy Brown does not have solar power but has had a Tesla battery installed and said she had noticed a big change in her bills. "It used to be $1,500 with AGL and now it's halved," she said.

"We can find that a battery alone, as part of the Tesla VPP, can still deliver the 29 percent savings on electricity prices that other housing trust and public housing homes are receiving," said van Holst Pellekaan. "The electricity is still coming out of the grid but it's being used in a very, very smart way so that it comes out of the grid when the grid is under no or low pressure." He continued: "Through the aggregation of all of these batteries, being part of the broader SA VPP, they work in a concerted way to support the grid."



The government said the scheme would complement measures to combat the oversupply of solar. "We've been working with Tesla for quite a few years now on the virtual power plant [and have] asked housing trust tenants to put their hands up if they'd like to be part of [it]," the minister said. "We'll have a trial, 20 houses, we'll prove it up and then we'll roll it out further across the state," he continued. VPP is part of a deal struck between then SA premier Jay Weatherill and Tesla CEO Elon Musk in 2018. Another 3,000 properties will be included in the next phase, bringing the total number of properties to 4,100.

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