ARENA funds national rollout of VPP solution


Australia’s green bank, ARENA, has granted energy management software firm Greensync and the country’s national grid operator AU$12.5 million to develop virtual power plant projects, which can help balance the country’s grid as more renewables come on stream.

Greensync’s deX software platform manages “behind the meter” devices such as solar panels, batteries and EV chargers, and smart appliances, sending excess renewables-generated energy back in the grid during high demand periods, has been granted AU$10 million towards an AU$30 million national roll-out of its platform.

The platform can manage thousands of connected distributed energy resources, and create VPP’s to support grid management. Already on trial by SA Power Networks and Simply Energy in South Australia, as well as United Energy in Victoria. Outside of Australia, 20 other countries, mostly in Europe and Japan are also trialling the company’s solution.

VPPs are considered to be a potential solution the surging volumes of wind and solar power in the country’s National Electricity Market which causes grid congenstions and Australia’s Energy Market Operator (AEMO) is forced to stabilise the grid by cutting back wind and solar output.

“We are talking millions of solar panels, batteries and electric vehicle chargers,” said Greensync CEO Dr Phil Blythe. 

The potential certainly is significant – approximately 2500MW of rooftop solar is being installed annually, and Australia’s Clean Energy Council says residential and commercial customer are expected to install about 70,000 residential batteries in 2019.

According to AEMO, VPP capacities should total over 700 megawatts by 2022, and Bloomberg New Energy Finance estimate that 45% of the country’s overall capacity will be behind the meter by 2040.

The benefits are expected to reach residential customers in very tangible ways – VPPs can act as income generators, but the technology is yet to proven at this scale. ARENA is awarding AEMO a separate amount of $2.5 million towards a $4.9 million, 18 month VPP trial.

Phil Blythe, chief executive of Greensync, said the national roll-out of deX would include participation by over 100 partners, most of whom are retailers and network utilities.

It would also help consumers maximise the benefits of rooftop solar, through battery and vehicle-to-grid technology during periods of grid congestions, and export excess energy to the grid during peak demand periods.

“We are talking millions of solar panels, batteries and electric-vehicle chargers,” Dr Blythe said. “We are talking in the millions now, so it has very much been scaled to address the need over 20 years.”

ARENA CEO Darren Miller said: “GreenSync through their deX platform is
addressing vital issues with DER [distributed energy resources] including physical integration and visibility with the grid, ensuring network limits are considered when dispatching, and achieving financial market integration to ensure value is maximised for consumers that own DER.”