South Australia was riddled with blackouts attributed to the high demand and poor supply from fossil-fuel and renewable generators. The government has turned this crisis into a wonderful opportunity by switching to the world’s largest lithium-ion battery in December.
It is reported that the government is planning to create the world’s largest virtual power plant by involving Electric carmaker, Tesla, which is coming up with a mega project for the region.
The premier of South Australia, Jay Weatherill, has reportedly entered into a contract with Tesla to create a virtual solar PV plant equipped with battery storage spanning 50,000 rooftops. This comes after the commencement of operations of the biggest grid-scale battery storage system globally, the 100 MW Hornsdale Power Reserve.
So, how does it work? It is reported that around 1,000 homes in public housing would receive Tesla batteries, which would be connected to solar panels installed on rooftops. The government would own the said equipment while the residents pay for the usage. So, the residents who would consume more could take the extra from the grid, whereas those who consumed all the energy generated by their solar panels could feed it back to the grid. The existing energy grid is already connected to all the homes, so the energy can seamlessly flow where it’s needed. Apart from this, homeowners could either buy the equipment or lease it from an investor.
It is expected that the state would have a distributed power plant that could generate around 250 MW of power from the rooftop solar panels. In contrast, Tesla batteries could facilitate storage of 650 MWh of energy. It is expected to be the world’s largest virtual power plant when finally functioning in 2021. It is also reported that the government would invest around $800 million ($635 million) to create the power plant. This is expected to trickle down to the customers wherein the bills would fall by 30%.