Federal Labor has unveiled plans to create a virtual power plant of solar schools across Australia, through $1 billion government loans scheme that would help schools to invest in rooftop panels and/or battery storage.
The Solar Schools program, announced on Tuesday, would allocate up to $1 billion in Clean Energy Finance Corporation funds to provide concessional loans for the purchase – or upgrade – of both solar panels and battery systems, either by schools or VPP project developers.
The idea is not only to slash the power costs of schools –by between $89,000 and $120,000 annually for large schools around the country, as estimated in the table below – but to use the network of solar and battery systems to deliver electricity and other services to the grid.
Labor leader Bill Shorten said the program would first be trialled through two to three VPPs across different regions, ahead of a full rollout taking in up to 4,000 schools and supporting up to 364MW of VPP capacity.
The scheme would use a number of different VPP models, too, in a bid to drive competition and innovation, and offer choice to schools.
“Schools are an excellent location for solar investment and the creation of virtual power plants, because they often don’t use energy at times of peak demand and through a large portion of summer,” Shorten said in a statement.