Australia and Tesla are Building The World's Largest 'Virtual Power Plant'

Sunday, 04 February 2018 - 5:50PM
Sunday, 04 February 2018 - 5:50PM
Australia and Tesla are Building The World's Largest 'Virtual Power Plant'
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Wikimedia Commons

South Australia is making an ambitious attempt to generate more clean energy for the region, and they've enlisted Tesla's help.

State premier Jay Weatherill just announced a goal of generating electricity for at least 50,000 homes in the region, by providing a combination of 5 kiloWatt solar panels and Tesla's solar-friendly Powerwall 2 batteries to homes, free of charge. This would allow the homes to generate solar power and transfer any surplus energy to a wider grid, and the end result would be, essentially, the world's largest virtual power plant.

Of course, this won't be immediate, as they're beginning with a trial run for 1,100 homes over the course of four and a half years to see how efficiently this system works. Assuming all goes well, they'll continue to expand it to a wider community with even more government funding behind it.

Currently, the state already gets around 40% of its power from wind energy. But blackouts have been a problem, and diversifying into more solar power could be an excellent solution which doesn't involve sinking more dependence into non-renewable energy.

In a televised statement, Weatherill said the following:

Opening quote
"We lead the world in renewable energy with the world's largest battery, the world's largest solar thermal plant and now the world's largest virtual power plant. The size of it is the reason why it's going to be a success."
Closing quote

The fact that this announcement was made so close to election season is likely not a coincidence, and neither is Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's dismissal of the plan as a "reckless" waste of resources. 

But for the sake of Australia, Tesla, and the rest of the world, hopefully the experiment goes well. Successful tests like this could pave the way for even bolder forays into solar power.

Science News