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South Australia to build world’s largest virtual power plant
February 11, 2018, 1:01 pm

South Australian government is set to build the world’s largest virtual power plant by delivering solar panels and Tesla batteries to at least 50,000 homes. Installation is planned over the next four years, and those households will combine to create the 250MW virtual power plant. Energy generated from the solar panels will be stored in the Tesla batteries, and any excess energy will be fed back to the grid, which will be centrally controlled and provide energy to the rest of the state when required.

In an initial trial, which has already commenced, a 5kW solar panel system and a 13.5kWh Tesla Powerwall 2 battery is being installed in 1,100 public housing properties for free, with the sale of electricity to cover the costs. Following this, an additional 24,000 public houses will receive the systems. A wider rollout for private homes is planned in 2019, depending on the success of the trial phases.

Tesla says that, when completed, the virtual power facility could provide as much capacity as a large gas turbine or coal power plant. The advanced technology in the Powerwall batteries can detect a power outage in the home, disconnect from the grid, and restore power to the home in a fraction of a second, without the owner even noticing that the power had gone out.

The South Australian government says the virtual power plant when fully operational will be able to provide 20 percent of the state’s average daily energy requirements and cut electricity costs for participating households by 30 percent. Tesla will also build a regional service hub to enable technicians to monitor and service the company’s battery installations.

Last year Elon Musk successfully built and commissioned the world’s biggest battery in South Australia to help with the state’s energy woes, which saw a crippling state-wide blackout in September 2016. He undertook the project after making a promise on Twitter, complete with a 100-day self-imposed deadline which he comfortably beat.


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