Edify Energy in Australia announced on 14 June 2022 that it had fully financed the construction of a 150MW/300MWh Tesla Megapack-based Battery Energy Storage System in the State of New South Wales. Energy Australia managing director, Mark Collette, said:
“These technologies will become the backbone of a modern energy system that will step in and keep the lights on when demand for electricity is high, as well as allow solar energy to be used – even when the sun isn’t shining”.
Edify said the construction would be completed during the first half of 2023. However Grid Scale batteries are just part of the hardware solution Tesla is deploying to crack the intermittence problem with renewables. The other key component is the Tesla Virtual Power Plant. This involves networking users of Tesla’s Powerpack home storage solution with the local utility grid and using their combined storage capacity (and in most cases solar generation capacity) to manage peak demand.
Tesla has deployed Virtual Power Plants in Massachusetts & Rhode Island, Australia and, California.
Massachusetts & Rhode Island
Under the Massachusetts & Rhode Island program called Connected Solutions the highest-earning Powerwall system are those paired with enough solar generation to completely recharge every day without drawing front the grid. These systems are called upon to contribute during times of peak load and users can earn as much as $1,000 a year. Powerwall systems not paired with solar generation do not export power to the grid but rather earn their compensation by serving their own home load without drawing from the grid during events. These Powerwalls can earn as much as $290 a year. The program draws power between June to September. Tesla commands the battery to discharge during the peak load event. The user can opt out temporarily or set reserve power to be conserved via the Tesla app.
With the support of the Government of South Australia, Tesla and electricity retailer Energy Locals, are developing South Australia’s Virtual Power Plant (SA VPP). Unveiled in 2018, SA VPP was designed in phases to demonstrate the viability of a virtual power plant to reduce the energy costs for the households participating in the project, and support the energy grid during peak demand.
The trial phase involved 1,100 public housing properties being fitted with solar and Tesla Powerwall home battery systems. Installations under the trial phases were completed in 2019.
SA VPP customers have a solar and Tesla Powerwall home battery system installed and maintained at their home, at no cost. In return, they enjoy an exclusive price for electricity that is currently the lowest residential electricity rate in South Australia (21 per cent lower than the regulated Default Market Offer).
In October 2019, Tesla launched its Tesla Energy Plan, an electricity retail offer for private households that wished to enrol their Tesla Powerwall battery in SA VPP. This has since been extended to Victoria.
The main compensation provided to private subscribers are stated on the Tesla Website as being:
The South Australian government credits the VPP stabilizing the grid during the following significant events:
- a power station trip in Queensland in October 2019
- providing power to Port Lincoln residents during catastrophic fire conditions in November 2019
- high and low frequency issues in the grid in December 2019.
- disconnections of the grid between South Australia and Victoria in November 2019 and January 2020
The Tesla Website states:
Tesla Virtual Power Plant (VPP) with PG&E and your Powerwall will be dispatched when the grid needs emergency support. Through the Emergency Load Reduction Program (ELRP) pilot, you will receive $2 for every additional kWh your Powerwall delivers during an event.
Powerwall will not dispatch to an energy level below your Backup Reserve. Setting your Backup Reserve via the Tesla app is the best way to control how much energy you elect for participation and how much you maintain in case of an outage.
When an event is scheduled or active, Powerwall gives you the option to opt-out of the event through the Tesla app.
You have a VPP participation toggle in the ‘Settings’ menu of the Tesla app. If you turn this off, your Powerwall system will not react to events when they are scheduled, and you will not be notified of the events. You are still enrolled in the program, however, and can resume your participation at any time by toggling your participation back on.
The page then lists the following benefits:
The $2 per kWh takes the benefit to the Power Wall owner to another level. It translates to compensation between $10 and $100 per event. If events are occurring on a daily basis for six months of the year it will significantly, and without government rebates, incentivise further adoption of Tesla Solar and Power Pack.