Virtual power plant to pilot in Western Australia


Project Symphony has been launched to create an over 500 household and business virtual power plant in suburban Perth.

The Au$35 million (US$27 million) project is to be deployed in the Perth suburb of Southern River, where more than half of households have rooftop solar installations.

More than 500 households and businesses are expected to participate. The aim is to demonstrate how large numbers of rooftop solar panels, batteries and large appliances such as air conditioners and electric hot water systems can be coordinated into a virtual power plant (VPP).

“Project Symphony will pave the way for Western Australians to access more energy options,” said Energy Minister Bill Johnston at the launch.

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“Using virtual power plants means there is less of a need for traditional generation assets, such as coal or gas, which is a step towards a more sustainable power system. It will lay the groundwork for a future where household energy devices help keep the power system stable, enabling more and more renewable energy on the grid.”

The project is being developed by the state energy companies Western Power and Synergy together with the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) and the state government’s policy advisor Energy Policy WA.

Project Symphony is expected to provide immediate benefits for Western Power’s network and pave the way for more innovative use of VPPs across the region’s main electricity grid.

The state government has committed Au$27 million to the two-stage project, with federal funding being sought for the balance.

Project Symphony will build on previous projects and trials by Synergy and Western Power, including the former’s Schools VPP pilot, and will benefit from the experience of Horizon Power’s Onslow DER project, which piloted a solar plus storage microgrid in the coastal town of Onslow.

It will also use learnings from AEMO’s VPP trials, which are still ongoing in South Australia and New South Wales, adapted for local conditions.