ARENA to fund virtual solar power plant study

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency is funding Queensland’s Ergon Energy to see if groups of homes with solar PV and battery storage can work together to become a “virtual power plant”.

ARENA chief executive Ivor Frischknecht said the $2.6 million project, of which ARENA will provide $400,000, was part of the growing momentum behind battery storage, and could speed up the adoption of renewable energy.

“The project will trial a ‘virtual power plant’ model by installing a number of centrally monitored and controlled solar/storage systems in Cannonvale, Toowoomba and Townsville, Queensland,” Mr Frischknecht said.

“This will show whether systems can be effectively co-ordinated to add value to the network by managing the supply of renewable energy into the grid, performing demand management and reducing network peak load.”

He said Ergon Energy had agreed to share learnings with the energy industry.

“This will increase the understanding of how residential solar and storage can effectively increase the adoption of renewable energy in the National Electricity Market.”

The 12-month pilot project will use 33 4.9kW SunPower PV systems with a 12kWh/5kW Sunverge battery.

“The pilot will draw on real customer and operational experiences to provide a deeper understanding of the costs and benefits of the model,” Mr Frischknecht said.

“Ergon Energy Retail will also explore how its solar PV and battery storage systems can achieve the greatest value on the grid, with a view to proceeding to a commercialisation phase and product launch.

“If this trial proves the potential viability of this type of model, it could open another avenue for Australian consumers, businesses and utilities to benefit from renewable energy.”

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