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Tesla's 2% Complete Virtual Power Plant Rescues Grid After Coal Peaker Plant Failure

by Claribelle Deveza November 20, 2019


Tesla’s Virtual Power Plant (VPP) saved the grid last month when a coal-powered peaker plant in South Australia failed to provide electricity to the region. The latest success of SA’s VPP may have been the extra push it needed for Phase III of its construction to begin.

The South Australian government and the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) applauded Queenland’s Tesla-backed VPP when it rescued the state from an unexpected power outage. Queensland’s Kogan Creek coal-powered power station--the largest in the state-- tripped, resulting in the power system to drop far below normal levels. The Virtual Power Plant supplied the grid with electricity from residential batteries when it detected a reduction in power supply. The virtual plant was able to stabilize the grid successfully, despite the VPP system being only around 2 percent complete.

“Although the Virtual Power Plant is in its early days, it is already demonstrating how it can provide the network support traditionally performed by large conventional generators,” said South Australia’s energy minister Dan van Holst Pellekaan.

Tesla and the South Australian government plans to develop a community of 50,000+ homes with solar panels and Powerwall battery systems for its Virtual Power Plant if Phase 1 and Phase II are successful, as per Tesla's website. The VPP project is currently in Phase II.


Credit: Tesla Australia

In Phase I, 100 home energy systems were delivered and installed on SA Housing properties. Tesla and the SA government upped the ante in Phase II, where they planned to install 1,000 energy systems for a total of 1,100 homes. More than 900 systems have been installed so far, reported Renew Economy.

If Phase I and Phase II are successful, the South Australian Government will move forward and expand the VPP to 49,000 more homes. Phase I and Phase II’s success depend on the satisfaction of both Tesla and the SA government. Phase III is also subject to program financing.

If Phase III does push through, the SA Virtual Power Plant will deliver 250MW of solar energy to residential homes and store 650 MWh of backup energy in Tesla Powerwalls, which could then be supplied to the grid when needed.

In comparison, the Hornsdale Wind Farm only has a 100MW/129MWh capacity. So Elon Musk’s Big Battery in Jamestown will be dwarfed by Tesla’s Virtual Power Plant when it’s complete. Although, Horndale's battery will be expanded by 50 percent in the upcoming months. Either way, both of Tesla Energy's large-scale projects are proving fruitful for South Australians.

Tesla is working with the South Australian government and energy retailer Energy Locals on the Virtual Power Plant. The project initially involved providing low-income households with solar + Tesla Powerwall systems for free. When Liberal Party Steven Marshall was elected South Australia’s premier, however, the project was tweaked to include households who bought and installed their solar panels separate from Tesla’s Energy Plan.

Registration for the Virtual Power Plant is ongoing. Click this link for more information and registration.

Featured Image Credit: Tesla AU

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