solar panels

The Australian Energy Market Operator’s (AEMO) virtual power plant (VPP) trial is performing strongly and is showing how distributed energy technologies can contribute to a secure and reliable electricity network, while also reducing energy costs.

The South Australian Virtual Power Plant (SA VPP) is enrolled in the trial with more than 900 residential solar photovoltaic (PV) systems and batteries and has been supporting system security in the frequency control markets.

AEMO’s Executive General Manager, Emerging Markets and Services, Violette Mouchaileh, said that the VPP trial will accelerate learnings on the role these emerging technologies can play in Australia’s future energy network.

“Globally, Australians are leading the adoption of distributed energy resources, such as solar PV systems, presenting an opportunity to export energy back into the grid, but also provide critical services for the grid,” Ms Mouchaileh said.

“It’s these critical network services traditionally performed by large-scale, conventional electricity generators that contribute to the security and reliability of the Australia’s rapidly transforming electricity sector.”

In early October 2019, the SA VPP responded to a large generator outage in Queensland, immediately injecting energy into the National Electricity Market (NEM) from the hundreds of homes with solar PV and batteries in South Australia. By delivering these services VPPs can earn revenues that can be shared with participating households through lower electricity prices.

“The SA VPP has proven the aggregation of distributed energy resources can benefit the power system and participating consumers,” Ms Mouchaileh said.

“The opportunity for VPPs to reach a large scale will benefit all energy users through added competition to deliver services and reducing prices.

“We encourage more VPPS to register to accelerate the shared learning on how to safely and efficiently integrate, operate and regulate these emerging technologies into the NEM,” Ms Mouchaileh said.

Minister for Energy and Mining, Dan van Holst Pellekaan, said this is demonstrable proof that the SA VPP can deliver what it’s designed to do – provide support to the NEM while delivering savings on energy bills to South Australians.

“Although the SA VPP is currently still being developed and operated as a trial, it has demonstrated the technical capability to provide critical network services, which will in turn drive down power prices and make energy more affordable, reliable and secure,” Mr van Holst Pellekaan said.

AEMO’s VPP trial is supported by $2.46 million from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA). AEMO’s VPP demonstrations are designed and conducted in collaboration with ARENA, the Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC), the Australian Energy Regulator (AER), and members of the Distributed Energy Integration Program (DEIP).

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