The relationship between the Australian government and Tesla has grown considerably in recent years. Elon Musk’s company was commissioned to install the world’s largest battery system in 2017. The following year they began a program of free solar panels and batteries for homes in exchange for belonging to a national generating grid. Two years later, this plan goes to phase 3, where 3,000 extra households will be added.
It all started from a collaboration between the Australian government and Tesla. The idea is to create a virtual power plant so to speak. Instead of setting up a solar farm that occupies land, each home has solar panels that store energy in batteries also installed in each house. This energy is distributed among households connected to the grid and individuals pay their energy bill as usual, albeit with the promise of being cheaper.
An idea that a priori has no negative points as such. Citizens pay a lower electricity bill (22% less) in exchange for allowing the installation of a battery and solar panels on their roof. In fact, you don’t even have to pay for the installation, the battery itself, or the solar panels.
Path to creating the world’s largest virtual power plant
The plan started with 100 households in South Australia, then expanded to 1,000 more earlier this year. Now, facing the next few months, the Australian government has announced the expansion to 3,000 more homes that will receive the installation to join the network.
With the deployment of 3,000 more installations, a total of 4,100 houses will be equipped with Tesla’s solar panels and its Powerwall. Of course, not everyone can participate in it, but it is Tesla who evaluates the viability of the home and its option to contribute to the installed energy network. In fact it is Tesla who controls, manages and manages the entire virtual power plant.
The local government claims to have given AU $ 8.2 million to Tesla Motors Australia for the expansion of the 3,000 extra homes. Now it is Tesla who will be in charge of supplying the chosen homes with 5 kW solar panels and 13.5 kWh Powerwall batteries. They indicate that this should supply 80% of the energy consumed on average in homes.
But what is this “virtual power plant”? Essentially it refers to a network of energy resources that are distributed. Instead of being, for example, a solar farm, it is about solar panels and batteries distributed among the buildings. But of course, all these facilities are interconnected and contribute to offer energy as a single power plant.
The final idea is to achieve a total of 50,000 installations in South Australia that will provide energy to the national grid. This is relevant in Australia and especially in the southern area due to its conditions that can cause power outages more than necessary.
Keep in mind that it is easier to install and operate in Australia than in other parts of the world. They are single-family homes with cities and towns distributed more horizontally than vertically. In turn, with climatic conditions that allow more hours of sun. In other words, we are hardly going to see a Tesla program like this in other countries or states without sufficient daylight hours annually.