Tesla’s world’s largest “virtual power plant” gets the green light in South Australia

Tesla’s proposed 250 MW/650 MWh virtual power plant using rooftop solar and Tesla Powerwall 2 units in South Australia is pushing through. In a speech at the Australian Energy Storage Energy Conference, Energy Minister Dan van Holst Pellekaan stated that the government would support Tesla’s proposed large-scale renewable energy project.

Tesla’s proposed virtual power plant in South Australia is expected to involve 50,000 low-income and social housing units, all of which would be fitted with 5 kW solar panels and a 13.5 kWh Tesla Powerwall 2 battery storage unit. Together, the 50,000-strong, 250 MW/650 MWh system is expected to provide grid stability by shifting demand away from a stressed grid during peak hours, much like the company’s 100 MW/129 MWh Powerpack farm near Jamestown.

During his speech, van Holst Pellekaan stated that the initial phases of Tesla’s virtual power plant is currently ongoing. The Energy Minister also discussed funding for the project, according to an ABC News report.

“It’s very important to be clear about this — we are honoring the existing commitments around the Tesla virtual power plant (VPP). The VPP project is currently proceeding with the two trial phases as planned. The trial phases involve installation of home energy systems on 1,100 Housing SA homes.

“These are supported by a $2 million grant and a $30 million loan from the State Government. Subject to private finance, and the first two phases’ success, the third phase could grow to up to 50,000 home batteries connected to new solar installations, and this is in addition to our government’s 40,000 home election commitment.” 

Tesla’s 250 MW/650 MWh virtual power plant almost hit a roadblock earlier this year. Back in March, newly elected South Australia premier Steven Marshall expressed his opposition to the project. In a statement shortly before he was sworn in, Marshall stated that the virtual power plant was “not part of our (the government’s) plan.” A few days later, however, Marshall took a step back from his statements, adopting a softer stance on the renewable energy initiative.

The Energy Minister noted that after being sworn in, his first meeting was with Tesla. He also expressed his optimism about the initiative, saying that South Australia will “show the world” how renewable energy solutions can work. Ultimately, van Holst Pellekaan noted that he is thankful about Tesla’s active participation in the region’s energy solutions. According to the Energy Minister, Tesla’s batteries, especially its 100 MW/129 MWh Powerpack Farm, is “shining a spotlight on South Australia.”

“I’m very glad Tesla is working with our Government. It’s a great partnership shining a spotlight on South Australia,” he said. 

Once complete, the South Australia VPP could feature up to six times more energy capacity than Tesla’s 100 MW/129 MWh Powerpack farm near Jamestown. A test installation of solar panels and Powerwall 2 units on the first 1100 homes is expected to be completed by 2019.

Tesla’s world’s largest “virtual power plant” gets the green light in South Australia
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