SA Power Networks has won the Best Use of Technology Award at the 2020 Digital Utility Awards for its Virtual Power Plant (VPP) project, which is the second major award the world-first project has won.
The virtual power plant was also recently named as the winner of Energy Networks Australia’s prestigious 2020 Industry Innovation Award.
SA Power Networks worked with Tesla, CSIRO and the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) on the VPP project to develop and demonstrate how real-time integration between networks and these virtual power plants can maximise the benefits – economic and environmental – for all customers.
A VPP is made up of home solar and battery systems, spread over hundreds or thousands of houses, working together to power these homes and then export any excess energy back to the network.
The VPP operator uses WIFI technology and sophisticated software to charge or discharge energy from the batteries and trade it on the National Energy Market (NEM).
SA VPP is designed to provide more affordable, reliable and secure electricity for all South Australians while increasing homeowners visibility of their energy use, while also supporting South Australia’s transition to a renewables-based economy.
Energy Networks Australia CEO, Andrew Dillon, said the project demonstrated SA Power Networks’ understanding of the immense change the energy sector was undergoing and the economic and social need to create smarter energy grids.
“This is an important project for not just South Australia, but for the nation as we work to integrate increasing amounts of distributed energy into the electricity system,” Dillon said.
“The learnings from this ambitious project will continue the development of smarter grids and better customer outcomes across the country.”
When deployed to 50,000 households, the SA VPP’s power output will be able to produce 500MW, which is one-third of the typical state electricity demand, doubling its capacity from traditional approaches which would only produce 250MW.
Mark Vincent, General Manager Strategy and Transformation for SA Power Networks said the concept was simple, enabling consumers to share the energy generated from their rooftops.
“Our next step is developing a flexible exports option for individual consumers to maximise their export capacity as well as the groups of consumers managed within VPPs,” Vincent said.
“We are aiming to make this wider offering available to all solar customers in South Australia in 2022.”
Under SA VPP, customers will save more than 22 per cent off the Default Market Offer (standard electricity price) in South Australia, with the ability to save between $40 and $406 off their annual electricity bill.
The project also leveraged SA Power Networks’ partnership with Microsoft to integrate the Azure platform.
This was a key element of the digital award submission, focusing on how SA Power Networks had integrated Azure components to achieve this solution through an agile, adaptive delivery approach.
“The VPP is a world-first project in an area of growing global interest and this win confirms that we, and South Australia, are on the cutting edge,” Vincent said.
“The project is extremely timely, as investment in solar and battery technology grows in South Australia.
“Combining this with other initiatives, we anticipate we can double the amount of solar we can host on our grid from 1.5GW to 3.0GW by 2025,” Vincent said.
SA Power Networks is a sponsor of the Regional Showcase Awards. Voting is now open for your favourite Regional Showcase story of 2020. The awards will be on 20 November.