Tesla is helping build the world’s biggest ‘virtual power plant’.
Elon Musk has already built what is basically the world’s biggest solar battery in Australia, and with its success, Tesla is again partnering with South Australia to build the world’s largest virtual power plant using 50,000 homes.
In a news release dated February 4, South Australia Premier Jay Weatherill outlined plans to build the world’s largest virtual power plant by rolling out solar panels and Tesla batteries to at least 50,000 homes in the state.
The project has already begun, with a trial of 1100 public housing properties. A 5kW solar panel system and 13.5kWh Tesla Powerwall 2 battery will be installed at no charge to the household and financed through the sale of electricity.
After this initial phase, an additional 24,000 Housing Trust properties will receive the same systems. Then, a similar deal will be offered to private homes in the state beginning in 2019. The plan is to have 50,000 homes in the project over the next four years. According to The Verge, Tesla says the virtual power facility could provide as much capacity as a large gas turbine or coal-fired power plant.
The proposed plan would allow homes to generate their own electricity at a cheaper rate and feed it back into the state’s power grid when needed. The project is being funded by taxpayers through a government grant and a state-funded technology fund totaling $32 million Australian dollars ($25 million).
“Tesla is gaining a reputation here for getting things done,” Tony Wood, energy program director at the Grattan Institute, a Melbourne-based think tank, said in a phone interview with Bloomberg News.
“If South Australia can sort through the funding and technical side of this project, then it’s worth doing because we’ll learn a lot more about rolling out distributed solar and batteries at scale.”
Tesla will be assessing the various properties to see if they will be able to support the system and participate in the program. The solar company will also build a service hub at Adelaide’s innovation district Tonsley.
The station will allow technicians to monitor and service the company’s Powerpacks in Hornsdale, the Superchargers installed across the state, and the residential Powerwall installations.
South Australia has been plagued with electrical blackouts through just about all of 2016, prompting the government to launch a plan to “take charge of the state’s energy future,” reports New Atlas. A key element of the plan was to build the world’s largest battery system to store energy gathered by South Australia’s extensive renewable sources.
Elon Musk took up that challenge and offered to build a facility using power packs, and promised to build it within 100 days. As we all know, he kept that promise and the facility was up and running in time to step in and inject 100 MW into the national grid to compensate for a fault at a major coal-fired plant soon after it came online.