The Victoria Labor government is launching a new pilot program that will create “virtual power plants” that will bundle together the excess energy from the state’s growing amount of rooftop solar installations and household battery storage units.
Energy minister Lily D’Ambrosio said the state is seeking expressions of interest in the program from companies with experience in aggregation and battery power.
VPPs are designed to aggregating the power from household-scale batteries and sell that power back into the grid when demand is highest. It offers additional revenue streams for solar households and boosts the reliability of the grid for everyone else.
“This pilot aims to bring the benefits of solar to all Victorians – reducing pressure on the grid and boosting reliability when demand is highest,” D’Ambrosio said in a statement.
VPPs are becoming increasingly common in the main grid, particularly in South Australia where the share of rooftop solar is the highest and can sometimes deliver the equivalent of all the consumer demand in the state.
VPPs – which may also include electric vehicle charging and EV batters, as well as demand management – are expected to become a standard feature of the grid as it switches from centralised generation to distributed energy resources.
Some programs have already been launched in Victoria by big retailers such as AGL, Origin and EnergyAustralia, but this program is designed to expand the offerings and work with the government through Solar Victoria.
The Victoria pilot will be managed by Solar Victoria, which is also developing a dedicated consumer literacy program to demystify batteries and aggregation and highlight the benefits for householders and the grid.
The pilot follows the $47.4 million investment in the latest Victorian Budget to meet booming demand for Solar Homes battery rebates program. It increased the number of rebates available from 10,000 over 10 years to 18,500 rebates over four years.