Tesla virtual power plant adds 1,000 low-income households in South Australia

Tesla virtual power plant expanding in South Australia.

The second phase of the Tesla virtual power plant (VPP) in South Australia will now network a further one thousand low-income households.

Solar panels and Tesla Powerwall 2 solar batteries will be installed free of charge in selected Housing SA properties.

Under the scheme, 50,000 low-income houses across the state will eventually deliver 250 MW of solar power with 650 MWh of battery storage capacity.

Tesla virtual power plant could be world’s largest 

VPPs work by connecting smaller energy sources like rooftop solar panels to form a single, large power source. It’s a bit like connecting personal computers via the internet to form a supercomputer, only the ‘internet’ in this case is the electricity network.

Managers then trade the VPP’s power on the market in such a way that individual solar homes receive financial benefits.

South Australia’s virtual power plant involves a collaboration between battery giant Tesla and the state government.

The former Labor Government kicked off a joint Tesla VPP program early in 2018. However, South Australia’s VPP project was nearly shelved by the incoming Marshall Government. That’s because after rejecting the Tesla-Labor plan, Premier Steven Marshall announced his own.

He offered subsidies to 40,000 SA homeowners to help them buy their own battery storage.

The Marshall plan involved residents buying batteries through a rebate program. The proposal was also limited to houses with existing solar installations.

On the other hand, the Tesla VPP plan aimed to provide both solar panels and Tesla batteries free of charge.

Responding to public pressure, the Marshall Government decided in May to support both the Tesla VPP and its own battery rebate plan.

Tesla VPP to reduce power bills for disadvantaged residents

Phase one of the Tesla VPP is now complete, and one hundred houses have solar batteries installed. Each has a 13.5 kWh Tesla Powerwall 2 battery and a 5 kW rooftop solar panel system.

As a result, participating households have reported a 70 per cent reduction in their grid consumption.

This also takes the stress off the electricity grid during peak demand and increases reliability.

Residents who want to take part in the VPP can still register their interest on the government website.