As AGL Energy heralds the progress of its “world’s biggest” virtual power plant trial in Adelaide, SA Power Networks has quietly installed the last of 100 battery storage systems in its own VPP trial – which the network points out makes it the largest one actually commissioned, for now, in Australia.
SAPN said on Thursday it was installing the final battery required for a unique three-year trial involving residential customers in Salisbury, in Adelaide’s northern suburbs; pairing a Tesla battery with a 3.2kW solar system.
Paul Roberts, SAPN’s manager for stakeholder relations, said reaching the 100-battery target was an exciting milestone for the network operator, creating a storage bank equivalent to a 300kVA diesel generator.
Like AGL, SAPN’s network of solar and smart battery management systems will be used to determine the best options for customers – in terms of how and when to use the energy generated by their solar panels or stored in their battery – while also allowing SAPN to tap into that energy when needed to manage network issues.
Ultimately, the network operator hopes the trial will help it avoid millions of dollars of costly network infrastructure additions in the Salisbury area.
“This is a unique trial that will test the benefits of combining solar and battery storage to avoid the need to spend about $3 million to build additional network infrastructure to meet growth in local electricity demand in an existing residential suburb,” Roberts said
“We want to work with customers to avoid the need to invest in new poles and wires. Instead of building a new power line, we would like to see whether we can defer or avoid that by tapping into local solar generation and combining this with battery storage.”
Roberts said the trial aimed to go for about three years to test how solar and battery combinations would work in different scenarios, including heatwave conditions in summer, mild spring days and heavy-cloud periods in winter.
“We installed the first of these batteries in July and already are getting some valuable insights on how solar/battery combinations can influence customer use of the network,” he said.
“As increasing numbers of customers install these new technologies and our proportion of distributed energy sources grows in SA, this will be invaluable for us in planning and adapting our network so it supports customer choice.”