Simply Energy chooses Tesla for 8MW Adelaide virtual power plant | RenewEconomy

Simply Energy chooses Tesla for 8MW Adelaide virtual power plant

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Simply Energy chooses Tesla batteries for 8MW virtual power plant in Adelaide, now rapidly emerging as a centre for technology that adds to grid security and lowers prices for consumers. Even the Coalition is excited.

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The city of Adelaide is rapidly becoming the global centre of virtual power plants, with the Australian Renewable Energy Agency announcing plans to support a rollout of an 8MW project by the retailer Simply Energy.

The proposal to link 1200 Adelaide households with 6MW of storage and another 2MW of demand response capacity in local businesses represents the fourth VPP to be announced or rolled out in that city in the last two years.

And it represents yet another coup for Tesla, whose Powerwall 2 battery storage units will be used by Simply Energy. It follows the decision by AGL to switch to Tesla Powerwall 2 and LG Chem batteries for its 5MW VPP, and Tesla’s own plans for a 250MW VPP that is dubbed the world’s biggest.

The future of that project is unclear since the change of government in the March 17 poll, with the new Liberals premier Steve Marshall saying the initial rollout of 5kW of solar and the 13.5kWh Powerwall 2 units to 1100 low income homes will be delivered, but leaving doubt over the bigger plan to extend it to another 49,000 homes.

The Simply Energy project is the second VPP in Adelaide to be supported by ARENA. It will provide $7.7 million of funding for the $23 million Simply Energy rollout, which is expected to be completed by the end of 2019, and also gave $5 million to AGL for its $20 million project.

The project will also test Greensync’s distributed energy exchange or “deX” platform at a commercial scale. The deX platform allows for energy capacity to be transacted between businesses, households, communities and utilities in response to price signals from the network owner.

“We think consumer energy resources have a huge role to play in Australia’s energy future, but we are still figuring out how we can orchestrate rooftop solar and home batteries to feed back into the grid. This is technically hard to do, which is why these pilot projects are so important,” ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht said in a statement.

“This is a potential model for how distributed energy resources can be operated at large scale in the future to help reduce energy prices.”

ARENA describes a virtual power plant as a centrally-managed network of battery systems installed behind-the-meter that can be collectively controlled to deliver benefits to households, energy retailers and the local network.

Simply Energy says Adelaide households participating in the trial will receive the home battery system at a subsidised price – believed to be around 40 per cent discount on the normal price of around $10,000, and with likely bill savings of 20 per cent.

“We will work closely with South Australian Power Networks to give both networks and the market operator greater visibility of behind-the-meter batteries and the ability to use batteries to manage demand and manage network constraints, reducing network costs,” CEO Carly Wishart said in a statement.

“It’s a win-win because our customers are getting better value from their renewable energy solution and the network will have more electricity sources from which to draw, which in turn improves reliability, particularly at times of peak demand.”

SAPN has already conducted a smaller trial of a VPP in Adelaide’s northern suburbs. Other virtual power plants are being proposed by Powershop and Reposit, and various other “demand response” initiatives.

The new South Australia government has also proposed subsidising the installation of battery storage in 40,000 Adelaide homes, although there is no indication that these will be connected or act as a virtual power plant.

It is also not clear whether this project will take precedence over the big Tesla VPP or be rolled out concurrently.

The move was welcomed by Federal energy minister Josh Frydenberg, whose formal opening of the AGL VPP last year famously ended up in a war of words with then SA premier Jay Weatherill.

That stoush was prompted by an embarrassing “load shedding” event a month earlier, when 90,000 homes went without power for 30 minutes after a period of monumental stuff-ups by the market operator and SAPN, the local grid owner, and when Simply Energy and its shareholder Engie left its Pelican Point gas plant idle.

That decision prompted the then Labor government to invest in its own power plan, culminating in numerous investments in small and large-scale storage, including the Tesla big battery, a contract for the Port Augusta solar tower, and other battery and pumped hydro and mini-grid and hydrogen storage projects.

Frydenberg says the new VPP will reduce power prices and improve reliability.

“The Simply Energy project benefits both individual Adelaide households and the broader South Australian community,” Frydenberg said in a statement.

“Households can use more energy generated from their own rooftop solar systems to lower their power bills and the community reaps the benefits of a more stable grid.”

He noted that consumers are increasingly taking up renewable energy, battery storage and more energy-efficient technologies in order to manage their household energy bills.

“This uptake is driving change in the electricity market and leading to a more distributed grid,” he said.  “That’s why the Turnbull Government is focused on improving the reliability of South Australia’s energy system through storage.

Consultants Marchment Hill and Flex are also involved in the Simply Energy consortium developing and managing the project.

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  1. mick 2 years ago

    so the dinosaur drop kicks are behind this one?

    • Joe 2 years ago

      Isn’t it just wonderful reading the Joshie’s ‘conversion’ to the goodness of RE. I mean when Premier Jay was in the Big Chair in SA every new RE announcement of Premier Jay was mocked and ridiculed by Joshie and Two Tonguer Turnbull as being “left wing ideology and idiocy”. Now that The Marshall is in the Big Chair in SA our Joshie is wetting himself with excitement in praising the Marshall. What a hypocrite is our Joshie, he should resign for telling lies.

      • PacoBella 2 years ago

        This is simply the logical extension into “Stage 6” of the project. As any experienced project manager knows, every project has 6 stages:

        1. Enthusiasm
        2. Disillusionment
        3. Panic
        4. The Search for the Guilty
        5. Punishment of the Innocent
        6. Praise and Honours for the Non-participants.

        Having passed through stage 5 at the recent election, we now arrive at Stage 6 where Frydenberg and Marshall both line up for the praise and honours they so richly don’t deserve.

        • Joe 2 years ago

          ….and then to Stage 7, where Labor stand up and say “It was us that made it all happen, not these Liberal hypocrites and liars”.

  2. john 2 years ago

    If everyone who has a solar array was to put at least 10 to 15 kWh of storage into their system and enabled it to be utilized just imagine the size of that energy producer.
    Being conservative there are some 2 million small scale solar arrays lets say 1 million have a sufficient size array to export or charge a 10 kWh battery.
    That gives us 1 million by 10 kwh storage not to be sneezed at.
    Is that not 10 mWh of power?
    Looking at the demand atm on the widget today there is 25 MW of demand.
    Just about 1/2 days storage so how about we get 5 millions systems to give us at least 1 days usage.
    Or better still 10 million so we get some useful storage to make sure the cost of energy for all goes down to where it should be in one of the best solar blessed countries in the world.
    If average usage is 15 kWh of power per day it is obvious that what is needed is larger solar arrays to power perhaps a 30 kWh battery and if those 10 million did that we would have a pretty cheap cost of power plus ensured resilience.
    I do not think this is doable because the cost is too high installing a 10 kWp solar and 30 kWh battery is just too expensive at this point that would mean an expend of at least $42,000 perhaps, not going to happen.
    No doubt I have some figures wrong.

    • Jonathan Prendergast 2 years ago

      10,000 MWh

      • john 2 years ago

        Thanks have amended comment.
        Funny I think i got it correct about half a days usage in next line.

    • Carl Raymond S 2 years ago

      Redo the sums pricing the battery at $100/kWh. i.e. $3,000 for 30kWh system. That’s where we’re headed. Price is currently much higher than cost because supply is not catching up with demand, but eventually it will as the battery industry scales. Early investors in battery factories are quite reasonably jacking the margins to reward themselves for being ahead of the curve. When it commodifies and product comes from fully depreciated capital, a different story.
      We’ve seen it many times – flash drives, flat screen TVs, solar panels. All get cheap after the scale up.

      • john 2 years ago

        True and that is where it is headed my first 8kb computer cost $3150 so yes understand the cost curve with learning.

  3. brucelee 2 years ago

    What % of the afternoon peak is 8MW?

    • Mathew Hystek 2 years ago

      you need a distributed energy storage system. not “one big battery in one location”, that doesnt make sense.

      • brucelee 2 years ago

        I feel like your reply is disconnected from my question. I was querying how much of the problem this battery helps to fix, and how much peak we have left, nothing more.

    • brucelee 2 years ago

      Answer 1.1%, which is great

      Page 15 shows that wintertime is peakier, going from 1400 to 2100MW a peak of 700MW, 8/700 = 1.1%

      Puts The Tesla VPP into context, would help shave 1/3 of the current peak off, at lower cost than this ARENA deal … Fingers crossed.

  4. Grpfast 2 years ago

    Federal LNP prepared to chuck SA under the bus to achieve political gain. Bastards!

  5. Ray Miller 2 years ago

    Now also investing in a bit more building energy efficiency (to keep that summer heat out) and high star rated air-conditioners and you will have a supper winner of a scheme multiplying the battery advantage and investment.

    • RobertO 2 years ago

      Hi Ray Demand Management will also help reduce the peak by some 5% to 10% (just Airconditioning alone should get you to + 5%)

      • Ray Miller 2 years ago

        Correct, I understand the purpose of these schemes but in Australia we consistently keep on doing things in ways which fail to deliver on the full benefit of the investment. I think this reflects on our national education levels and ability to get our act together.
        At the risk of getting political it seems many of our political parties are not working for Australia, like the NBN, and energy policy. If I was an external entity try to do long term damage and subvert our country I would do many of the things the conservative political parties have done.

  6. Paul Surguy 2 years ago

    Strange how the funding from ARENA was so quick the election was only a week and a half ago

    • RobertO 2 years ago

      HI Paul Surguy, maybe as the boss of ARENA is about to leave , knowining his replacement may not be as pro RE, he is trying to kick start RE services within Australia. When ARENA started it was all grants to fund RE projects and the current Fed Gov under both Baabbott and 2 Toungs have tried to stop ARENA and the CEFC. 2 toungs has demanded the ARENA no longer provide grants (under new regulations issued by Fed Gov they are supposed to be repaided under most circumstances).

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