Electricity distribution company Ausgrid and distributed energy leader Reposit Power have launched a trial 1MW virtual power plant (VPP) with 233 customers across 170 suburbs across Sydney, the Central Coast, and the Hunter region of New South Wales.
The trial is open to those who want to participate, and customers taking part will receive direct cash payments from Ausgrid of up to $135 a year via Reposit, which will allow the electricity from household batteries to be directed back into the grid as necessary.
Specifically, customers will be paid for the energy they supply to the grid when Ausgrid activates signals to customers’ batteries through the Reposit software, which in turn lowers customers’ energy costs.
The trial is being delivered by Ausgrid’s Power2U initiative which is part of a broader $7 million demand management innovation program. Ausgrid CEO Richard Gross said that this is one of the ways which his company is engaging with partners and customers to shape the future of energy.
“This is the first program of its type for Ausgrid. Solutions like a virtual power plant not only help customers, it helps the grid,” said Gross.
“If the trial is successful, it could provide a lower cost alternative to grid investment, which would result in lower customer bills in the long term.”
For the uninitiated, a virtual power plant is the term generally used for a network of connected residential batteries which, when necessary, can be directed to provide their stored energy back into the grid to help stabilise grid fluctuations and volatility.
VPPs can also connect together more traditional generation sources such as combined heat and power (CHP) units, wind farms, and solar parks. However, as more and more residential solar systems are being sold and combined with energy storage, the concept of a residential VPP is becoming more and more common.
The NSW government last year announced plans for 200MW of virtual power plant, linking 40,000 homes, and sought submissions for the program.
VPP trials are occurring across the country, with much of the focus in South Australia, where Tesla still hopes to implement a planned 250MW VPP with 50,000 homes, and the likes of Sonnen, SA Power Networks and AGL are also conducting trials.
“The partnership with Reposit Power will give our customers a choice about the way they share their excess electricity and gives them a better return on their investment,” Ausgrid’s Gross said.
“We will continue to explore alternative ways to deliver more flexible grid services to our customers to reduce their electricity costs and the costs on our network.”
“Reposit Power is proud to partner with progressive energy companies like Ausgrid and share their passion for empowering consumers and communities,” said Reposit Power co-founder and CEO, Dean Spaccavento.
“Reposit was recently awarded the highest engineering award for building a Virtual Power Plant (VPP). VPPs are the next step in Australia’s energy revolution.
“We are confident that this trial will demonstrate the value of our clean, flexible and cost effective VPPs to individual households and the wider community.”