South Australia, Tesla partner on world’s largest virtual power plant


The state of South Australia has announced plans to equip at least 50,000 homes with solar panels and Tesla battery storage units, connecting them all to the electricity grid to form the world’s largest virtual power plant.

The virtual system will use a variety of energy sources to ensure uninterrupted power supply. It will comprise 5kW solar photovoltaic (PV), 5kW/13.5kWh Tesla Powerwall, 2 batteries and a smart meter, working together to generate, store and feed energy back into the grid.

Approximately half of all systems will be installed on Housing Trust properties with 6,500 homes already registered interest in participating.

The solar energy generated will be used to meet demands for each household, excess energy will be integrated into the main grid.

The pilot is supported by a $2 million grant secured from the state government and $30 million loan from the Renewable Technology Fund.

Participating households are expected to witness decreases in monthly energy bills by avoiding using energy from the main grid during times when demand and costs is high. The 250MW/650MWh plant can meet around 20% of South Australia’s average daily energy requirements.

Initial phase 1 installs have started and will continue throughout 2018 and 2019.

Households will be selected according to criteria such as geographical spread for installation efficiency, combined with optimising the security of the distribution network.

Tesla will also review all properties to determine whether or not they are able to support the system and participate in the programme.

“What this project will do is connect thousands of solar and battery systems to make one giant, coordinated virtual power plant. Once again South Australia is at the global forefront of renewable energy and storage technology,” commented Energy Minister, Tom Koutsantonis.

Today’s announcement is the next phase in the State Government’s Energy Plan, which aims to deliver cleaner, more affordable and more reliable energy to South Australians, at an estimated cost of AU$550 million.