The Victorian Labor Government has announced a new solar aggregation pilot, and is calling for partners to launch the program.
The pilot aims to link homes together in networks around the state to create virtual power plants. The goal is to entice more people to install PV systems, while also easing the burden on the grid in areas where demand is high.
Now the Government has put out the call to energy companies with experience in aggregation to join the pilot. Applications are encouraged that deliver benefits to household consumers. It is hoped these companies can bring new innovations to the table, along with market solutions to benefit the wider community.
Minister for Solar Homes Lily D’Ambrosio said the collaborative process would deliver strong renewable outcomes and reliable power across the state.
“This pilot aims to bring the benefits of solar to all Victorians – reducing pressure on the grid and boosting reliability when demand is highest,” she said.
“We’re working closely with industry to drive innovative solutions for customers and create good outcomes for the wider electricity network.”
How does aggregation work?
Home PV systems are usually in the range of 3 kilowatts to 10 kilowatts, and will only produce the maximum amount of that capacity on a bright, sunny day with no clouds.
Under the current power system (a net-metering arrangement), the energy is first used by the home, with only excess energy exported to the grid. This means the volume of energy being exported is usually quite small.
Aggregation moves away from a single home model and bundles roof panel systems together. The volume of excess power is measured in a single pool and only exported when it reaches a certain level. Effectively, it links a group of homes together to become its own power plant.
The benefits of aggregation
Creating aggregated networks in the suburbs delivers a range of benefits, including:
- It would offset the cost of installation faster
- This would entice more people to install PV systems
- Victoria would help meet its renewable energy targets faster
- Utilities would have better control over grid capacity in regions where demand is increasing.
Victoria’s plan includes battery storage
A key difference between the Victorian Government’s plan and previous aggregation models is that battery storage solutions will be included in the pilot. That way power can be stored in these batteries to provide a strong backup for when the grid is at capacity and needs the exports.
Solar Victoria is including education packages as part of the program to help people better understand batteries and the aggregation process.
This pilot is the latest program by the Victorian Government to boost uptake of renewable energy in the state, following other initiatives including:
- $47.4 million investment to increase Solar Homes battery rebates from 10,000 over 10 years to 18,500 over four years
- The Solar for Business Program for rebates up to $3500 for up to 15,000