Little batteries - big rewards

By now, we’ve all heard the excitement around battery technology, and we’ve got real examples right here in our backyard, showing the excitement is justified.

What’s up

The South Australian big battery has already played a large role in stabilising prices across an Adelaide summer by increasing dispatchable power during peaks demands. Like when we all turn our air conditioners on at the same time.

Smaller scale, household batteries are also part of the news, as technology improvements mean lowering price tags.

What’s down

But how can distributed battery technology, batteries in sheds and cupboards across Australia, be used to increase reliability for everyone? Can this technology play a larger role in stabilising our electricity supply as we transition to more renewable energy?

Drumroll please

The world’s biggest Virtual Power Plant trial is underway right now, here in Australia, thanks to the ongoing commitment of industry leaders and both sides of South Australian politics.

The trial is looking to answer these questions while also reducing living expenses to South Australians living in low-income housing. It includes installing free solar panels and home batteries in 1,100 Housing Trust homes. Reducing not only the tenants’ energy costs by 30%, but all South Australians will also benefit from the increased generation in the South Australian energy mix, with lower energy prices and increased energy stability.

Phase one is complete and the results are in, household batteries can be effectively used to provide quick and accurate response to frequency fluctuations. Which in turn maintains the stability of the grid. The benefit of this being a virtual power plant means that when the stored energy isn’t required to help stabilise the grid, the household battery can still be used at the household level.

After the full initial rollout of 1,100 properties, the program will be extended to at least 24,000 Housing Trust properties and 25,000 private properties across South Australia based on the success of the first 1,100. There are a number of virtual power plants and microgrid technologies being tested across Australia at the moment. But Tesla’s proposed total of 250MW is by far the biggest in Australia, and the world, and would provide for around 20% of South Australia’s average daily energy requirements.

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