World’s largest virtual power plant set to strengthen South Australian grid

Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has partnered with AGL Energy and Sunverge to install 1,000 centrally controlled batteries in South Australia providing a 5 MW storage capacity.

AGL, ARENA and Sunverge are creating the world’s largest virtual power plant (5MW) in South Australia. Image credit: twitter.com/aglenergy
AGL, ARENA and Sunverge are creating the world’s largest virtual power plant (5MW) in South Australia.
Image credit: twitter.com/aglenergy

The world’s largest battery storage ‘virtual power plant’ aims to boost grid stability, reduce power price volatility and supports renewable energy.

ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht joined AGL CEO Andy Vesey and South Australian Treasurer and Minister for Mineral Resources and Energy Tom Koutsantonis in Adelaide to launch the project.

According to Mr Frischknecht, the $20 million project could point to solutions to South Australia’s grid challenges and reduce the risk of power price shocks in the state.

“Australia is on the cusp of a battery storage revolution as technology costs continue to fall. ARENA is at the forefront of figuring out how batteries can best support renewable energy to provide affordable, reliable and sustainable power,” Mr Frischknecht said.

“AGL plans to operate the batteries as a kind of virtual power plant, installing them alongside solar PV and linking all 1,000 systems with centralised monitoring and management software,” he added.

“The result is like adding a 5 MW power station that can quickly deliver enough energy to power 1,000 South Australian homes where and when it’s needed most. This approach can ease local network constraints, displace gas power and complement the Victorian interconnector, especially during times of peak demand.”

For phase one of the project, AGL has selected Sunverge batteries and control systems. It has received an ARENA-backed investment boost and its batteries are also being trialled in Queensland by Ergon Energy in another ARENA-supported project.

Mr Frischknecht said ARENA expects virtual power plants to play a significant role in the future as more renewable energy is connected to our power networks.

“The approach also offers more value to customers, retailers and network companies from both the batteries and solar panels, making renewable energy more competitive,” Mr Frischknecht said.

“This project is set to be the largest demonstration of a virtual power plant in the country. South Australia is home to some of the highest levels of solar and wind in the world, making it an ideal proving ground,” he added.

“It could also act as a catalyst and provide evidence for regulatory change to enable more Australian virtual power plants. ARENA funding support depends on the negotiation of a funding agreement, which will include comprehensive knowledge sharing outcomes.”

AGL Managing Director and CEO Andy Vesey said AGL is pleased to be partnering with ARENA on this innovative project, which we hope can demonstrate future options for our energy generation and supply mix.

“The energy landscape is rapidly changing and distributed energy services through projects like this, involving batteries, solar and the grid, can help customers manage their energy bills and provide grid stability,” Mr Vesey said.

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