South Australian Premiere Jay Weatherill unveiled plans to create the world’s largest “virtual” power plant which could drastically reduce energy bills. The virtual power plant would be composed of a network of at least 50,000 home solar panels and backed up by batteries from Tesla.
A test market involving 1,100 Housing Trust homes are presently underway with the cost being shouldered by the sale of electricity. In effect, the power that is generated by the solar panels and batteries will not be directly owned by the participating households.
If successful, Weatherill plans to expand the coverage of the virtual power plant to another 24,000 public housing properties. The immediate goal is to have 50,000 homes in Adelaide connected to the virtual power plant.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull derided the virtual power plant project of the Labor government:
“The families and businesses of this state know they cannot afford another four years of Labor. South Australians cannot afford another four years of reckless experiments.
“South Australia is a great state, but we being let down by an arrogant and dysfunctional Labor government. We must immediately address the economic problems that 16 years of Labor government has delivered or we will fall further behind the rest of the nation.”
The Liberal opposition party has a similar plan involving solar panels and batteries installed in at least 40,000 homes.
Weatherill believes the virtual power plant would be equivalent to having a 250-megawatt power plant. Households who connect to the virtual power plant can expect a 30% reduction in energy bills.
“We will use people’s homes as a way to generate energy for the South Australian grid, with participating households benefiting with the significant savings in their energy bills. Our energy plan means that we are leading the world in renewable energy and now we are making it easier for homes to become self-sufficient.”
John Grimes, chief executive of the Smart Energy Council shares his opinion that the virtual power plant was a game-changer and could effectively help Australians reduce their cost of power:
“Virtual power plants allow families to take control of their power bills, while providing greater security for the energy network.”