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Hon Dan van Holst Pellekaan MP, Minister for Energy and Mining

South Australia’s Virtual Power Plant (SA VPP) has responded to an outage in Queensland by immediately injecting energy into the grid when it was needed.

According to the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO), on 9 October 2019 a unit of the Kogan Creek coal power station in Queensland tripped, reducing supply by 748 megawatts (MW) and causing the power system to drop well below the normal level of system frequency.

The Virtual Power Plant detected the frequency drop and immediately injected power into the grid from hundreds of individual residential batteries installed on SA Housing Trust properties across the State, contributing with other providers to return the system frequency back to normal.

Minister for Energy and Mining Dan van Holst Pellekaan said this shows why the SA Government has the most ambitious home battery program in the country, with batteries providing both savings to consumers and valuable support to the grid at a local and even national scale.

“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 Minister van Holst Pellekaan.

The outage information was captured by AEMO through its VPP demonstrations program, in which the Housing Trust-based Virtual Power Plants has been participating since mid-September.

The demonstrations are collecting data on how Virtual Power Plants can operate, how they respond to the energy market and how they can deliver local network support services.

The demonstrations will help allow for a smooth integration of Virtual Power Plants into the market and demonstrate how emerging technologies can support Australia’s future energy network.

Graph of response to contingency event

AEMO’s Executive General Manager, Emerging Markets and Services, Violette Mouchaileh said the VPP has proven that co-ordinated home batteries can benefit the power system and consumers.

“Globally, Australians are leading the adoption of distributed energy resources, such as solar PV and battery systems. This presents an opportunity to export energy and provide critical services for the grid,” Ms Mouchaileh said.

The South Australian Virtual Power Plant is led by Tesla with support from the South Australian Government and energy retailer Energy Locals, with over 900 systems installed so far. In September 2019, this offer was expanded to private households through the Tesla Energy Plan.

Gilberton resident Alan Hedges joined in September this year after purchasing a 13.5 kWh Tesla Powerwall battery in April 2019 through the State Government’s Home Battery Scheme.

“Since installing my battery my winter electricity bill has gone from $1034.24 to $344.88,” said Mr Hedges.

“I joined the South Australian Virtual Power Plant to save even more off my power bills by eliminating my daily supply charge and getting access to the best electricity rate in South Australia.

“Knowing I’m helping others save money through the renewable energy I generate and put back into the grid is also really important to me”.

AEMO’s VPP demonstrations are designed and conducted in collaboration with the Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC), the Australian Energy Regulator (AER), and the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) who funded it with a $2.46 million grant.

Private households wanting to join the SA VPP can sign up through the Tesla Energy Plan at https://www.tesla.com/en_AU/tesla-energy-plan

All South Australians who wish to participate in the SA VPP are still able to register their interest at https://virtualpowerplant.sa.gov.au/

Read more about how SA Housing Trust batteries save the day during QLD power station failure (PDF)

Friday 15 November 2019