The government of Australia plans to increase the amount of energy the country gets from renewable sources. With the help of Elon Musk’s company, Tesla, they plan on building the largest virtual power plant in the world. It will be made up of 50,000 households that will be provided with power from Tesla batteries and solar panels. The project is currently underway with installation scheduled to take place over the next four years. The solar panel will generate energy to be stored in the batteries, with the excess being sent back to the centrally controlled grid to help power the rest of the state.
A statewide blackout in 2016, blamed on the failure of renewable energy to cover the usage during peak periods and severe weather which caused transmission towers to topple, initiated the start of the project. To create a solution to the country’s energy problems Tesla gave themselves a 100-day deadline, to build the world’s biggest battery. Alongside Tesla’s installations, the government has created their own mission which will subsidize AU$2500 of the initial costs for each system.
A trial has begun, with 1100 public housing properties expected to have a 5kW solar panel system and a 13.5kW Tesla Powerwall 2 battery installed. This will be followed by another 24,000 public houses receiving the same system. The expansion into supplying private homes will begin in 2019. The company expects the system to provide as much energy as a large coal power plant or gas turbine. Once power has been stored in the battery, it will be able to restore energy to homes in a fraction of a second following an outage.
The funding for the program will come from a grant of AU$2,000,000, plus a loan of AU$30,000,000 from a state technology fund. The project’s total cost is expected to be AU$800,000,000, with the remaining funding provided by investors. Interest in the program has already been expressed by 6500 investors, and its scale may be increased if this number grows. The government expects that the virtual power plant will provide 20% of the state’s average daily requirements, as well as cut the costs of power by 30%. The project’s success will also prove South Australia as a leader in the use of renewable energy and could encourage more countries to invest in the same layout.