Tesla to trial virtual power plant for low-income consumers in SA

Low-income South Australians will soon have access to low-cost renewable energy without the need for solar panels under a new partnership with renewable leaders Tesla.

The South Australian Government has already been rolling out solar systems and batteries to 1100 Housing SA homes to assist residents with their bills, while continuing the state’s world-leading transition away from fossil fuels.

The next stage will see batteries installed at properties where solar panels are not viable, creating a virtual power plant and giving those residents access to renewable energy.

Energy Minister Dan van Holst Pellekaan said the scheme, in partnership with Tesla, would be rolled out over 20 homes in the pilot.

“We haven’t been able to deliver for all of those people because some of them – their homes weren’t quite right for solar,” he said. “Perhaps there’s a tree shading the roof, or the roof faces the wrong way, perhaps structurally the roof is not quite right for a solar installation.

“Now we have an opportunity to go back to those homes … and say, ‘We’ve got a different style of offer. We will give you a free battery, in partnership with Tesla’.”

The move will also help manage the oversupply of renewable energy exported from home solar systems during peak periods. These batteries can absorb some of that power and store it for later.

Houses that are battery-only are set to see their electricity bills slashed by around one third.

“We can find that a battery alone, as part of the Tesla VPP, can still deliver the 29 per cent savings on electricity prices that other housing trust and public housing homes are receiving,” Mr van Holst Pellekaan said.

The solar and battery scheme is ultimately set to be rolled out over 50,000 homes across South Australia, with phase two to add another 3000 houses to the list.

Tesla earning a solid reputation in South Australia

Four years ago, South Australia had a power crisis. Today, the network is more stable than ever, and it all came from a bet that chief executive Elon Musk made with the state.

He wagered with the State Government that he would have a 100MW battery system up and running within 100 days to solve the crisis, or it would be free. History shows that Musk won the bet, and SA’s record of routine outages has vanished.

The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) gave the Tesla Powerpack grid backup battery in South Australia a big thumbs up after certain members of the Federal Parliament initially mocked the idea.

The battery was a roaring success, providing backup power milliseconds after there was any shortage, making $13 million in the first six months for the Hornsdale Power Reserve and saving the government $33 million, which would have otherwise been required to stabilise the grid.

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