The World's largest Virtual Power Plant

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), a network of potentially 50,000 solar and Tesla Powerwall home battery systems across South Australia, all working together to form the world’s largest virtual power plant.

SA VPP is designed to provide more affordable, reliable and secure electricity for all South Australians, while increasing homeowners’ visibility of their energy use, and supporting South Australia’s transition to a renewables-based economy.

About South Australia's Virtual Power Plant

What is a virtual power plant?

A virtual power plant (VPP) is a network of distributed energy resources – such as homes with solar and battery systems – all working together as a single power plant.

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).

With many systems working together, small amounts of energy stored in individual home batteries can become large amounts of energy to help support the grid in times of need. The capacity and power of a VPP can sometimes match or even exceed a traditional power station.

SA VPP is a growing network of homes with solar and Tesla Powerwall home battery systems across South Australia.

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 in ways that could reduce energy costs for all South Australians.

The trial phases involved 1,100 Housing SA properties being fitted with solar and Tesla Powerwall home battery systems. Installations under the trial phases were completed in 2019.

In October 2019, Tesla launched its Tesla Energy Plan, an electricity retail offer for private households that wish to purchase and enrol their Tesla Powerwall battery in SA VPP.

Tesla is now rolling out Phase 3 of SA VPP to another 3,000 Housing SA properties.

Tesla plans to have up to 50,000 South Australian homes connected over time.

South Australia’s Virtual Power Plant - an Australian first

SA VPP is demonstrating how virtual power plants and other distributed energy resources can operate in the future.

SA VPP was the first virtual power plant in Australia to help stabilise frequency levels in the grid, and as of August 2020 it is one of only two virtual power plants in Australia to do this. The stability services SA VPP provides have already helped with significant events such as:

  • a power station trip in Queensland in October 2019
  • disconnections of the grid between South Australia and Victoria in November 2019 and January 2020
  • providing power to Port Lincoln residents during catastrophic fire conditions in November 2019
  • high and low frequency issues in the grid in December 2019.

By demonstrating grid stability services, SA VPP is creating a path for other distributed energy resources in the future to provide important grid services that until now have only been provided by centralised, more traditional equipment.

Who is involved in South Australia’s Virtual Power Plant?

Tesla has designed and developed SA VPP, and is managing the installation of solar and Tesla Powerwall home battery systems on South Australian homes.

Energy Locals is the electricity provider and retailer for all households participating in SA VPP.

The Government of South Australia is supporting the project through a $2 million grant and $20 million loan from the Renewable Technology Fund and $10 million grant from the Grid Scale Storage Fund. The government is working with Tesla to identify Housing SA properties suitable for the roll out of Phase 3.

An $8 million grant to support Phase 3 of the project is provided by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency.

A $30 million loan to also support Phase 3 of the project is provided by the Clean Energy Finance Corporation.

South Australia's Virtual Power Plant and its critical network benefits (news item)

Information for Housing SA Tenants looking to join SA VPP

There is no need for Housing SA tenants to register their interest to join SA VPP.

Tesla and the South Australian Government are following a detailed process to identify suitable Housing SA homes to participate in SA VPP, including tenants who registered their interest in the trials. Tenants living in suitable Housing SA homes will receive information from the government and Tesla to let them know their home has been shortlisted and how to join.

SA VPP is not currently open to tenants of community housing providers.

To maximise the potential energy bill savings for Housing SA tenants and all South Australians, Phase 3 of SA VPP needs to enrol homes where solar panels and a Tesla Powerwall battery can be safely installed and operated for years to come. Tesla is also working with SA Power Networks (SAPN) to prioritise homes in areas where the need for grid support is high and batteries can assist with services such as load management and voltage support.

Because of this, homes for Phase 3 of SA VPP go through a detailed selection process:

Step 1.A review of Housing SA property information like size, type, age, condition, and economic life of the building, to create a list of possible homes.
Step 2.A discussion of the listed locations with SAPN, to identify any homes that should be prioritised so that they can help provide grid support services.
Step 3.A review of online aerial photos for the listed homes to create a shortlist of tenants to receive an invitation for a free site assessment.
Step 4.For tenants that accept the invitation, a site assessment to confirm the site is completely suitable for the solar and battery installation.

Steps 3 and 4 consider all the technical details required for a safe and well-performing solar and battery installation, including things like suitable roof space, a suitable and safe location for a battery, little to no roof shading, and electricity meters, meterboards, and switchboards that are suitable or can be easily upgraded.

A home has to pass all four of these steps to be able to join Phase 3 of SA VPP.

Housing SA tenants shortlisted to participate in Phase 3 of SA VPP will receive information about how to join the program. This may include:

  • Letter and/or email from the Government of South Australia
  • An invitation from Tesla
  • SMS text sent to their mobile phone
  • Follow up phone call from the Government of South Australia

Shortlisted homes will be contacted in a staged approach, based on location. On current estimates, it is expected that all homes will be contacted by the end of July 2021.

There are a number of reasons why a property might not be shortlisted for Phase 3 of SA VPP, including property type, age, or condition, the available space for solar panels or a battery, shading on the roof, and the condition and type of existing electricity meters, meterboards, and switchboards.

If you are a Housing SA tenant in a home that hasn’t been shortlisted for Phase 3, there are still many steps you can take to lower your electricity bills:

Housing SA tenants shortlisted to participate in Phase 3 will receive an exclusive invitation from Tesla with a special website address and phone number listed on the invitation. Please complete the sign up form on the website to accept your invitation and Tesla will arrange a site assessment of your home to ensure it is suitable for the program.

Joining SA VPP is your chance to lower your electricity bills, and be part of a world first program making electricity cleaner and more affordable, reliable and secure for all South Australians.

As a SA VPP customer you will have a solar and Tesla Powerwall home battery system installed and maintained at your home, at no cost to you. In return, you will enjoy:

  • an exclusive price for electricity that is currently the lowest residential electricity rate in South Australia, 23 per cent lower than the regulated Default Market Offer (based on 4000 kWh/year on an anytime tariff in SA Power Networks)
  • part of the Tesla Powerwall home battery reserved to back up your home in a power outage
  • a low daily electricity supply charge.

It’s important to remember that you will continue to pay for all the electricity you use – whether it comes from the solar, battery or the grid - but it will all be charged at the low electricity rate only available for SA VPP customers, guaranteed for two years.

SA VPP’s electricity rate is even lower than the SA Concession Energy Discount Offer, and 23 per cent cheaper than the standard electricity price (known as the Default Market Offer).

A typical customer joining SA VPP can save up to $423 (inc GST) off their annual electricity bill, while generating clean energy for the community and supporting the grid (based on the annual saving estimate for a new residential customer when compared to the Default Market Offer with an annual energy consumption of 4000 kWh/year on an anytime tariff in SA Power Networks, inclusive of all discounts). Savings will vary depending on your usage and is dependent on a tenant’s previous tariff and their eligibility for energy and/or cost of living-related concessions.

Depending on your current electricity contract and your electricity usage, you could save up to 23 per cent off the standard electricity price (known as the Default Market Offer) in South Australia by joining SA VPP. You will also have a reserve in the Tesla Powerwall home battery to power the home in the event of an outage.

Everyone should make their own decisions about the best electricity plan for their households. A simple way to do this is to compare your options at www.energymadeeasy.gov.au

You can also ask Energy Locals to provide an estimate of your savings by joining SA VPP, just by sending a copy of your recent electricity bill to them at savpp@energylocals.com.au

Without changing their energy usage, a typical customer joining Phase 3 of SA VPP is expected to save up to $423 (inc GST) off their annual electricity bill, whilst helping provide clean energy to the community and supporting the grid.

This estimate of savings is based on a new residential customer when compared to the Default Market Offer with an annual energy consumption of 4000 kWh/year on an anytime tariff in SA Power Networks, inclusive of all discounts, and depends on the tenant’s previous tariff and their eligibility for energy and/or cost of living-related concessions.

The bill discount will depend on what kind of electricity contract you had before, how much electricity you use, and if your energy use changes after joining SA VPP.

Households that have signed up to the SA Concession Energy Discount Offer can still join SA VPP.

However, by choosing to join SA VPP, you will move off of the SA Concession Energy Discount Offer and move on to the SA VPP energy plan.

If you are already an SA Concession Energy Discount customer and you want to join SA VPP, you are encouraged to compare both electricity plans carefully, as joining SA VPP may reduce your electricity bills further.

Since the solar and Tesla Powerwall home batteries in SA VPP need to work together, signals are sent to the batteries remotely via software. Home internet connections (wifi or Ethernet) are the best way to do this quickly and reliably, as they typically have stronger signals than cellular (that is, “mobile internet”) connections.

Tesla expects that each system will use less than 5 MB of data each month.

No. By agreeing to join SA VPP, you’re allowing Tesla to access your home internet connection and provide a stronger SA VPP experience for you and everyone else on the program. Further information will be provided during the installation process.

If you are a Housing SA tenant and you chose to leave SA VPP after a home energy system has been installed on the property, Tesla will reconfigure the system to provide no benefit to the property.

If the system is reconfigured, all the energy generated and stored will instead be exported to the grid to continue to provide benefits to other households participating in SA VPP and you will not get power from the battery in an outage. It is likely the home energy system will remain on your property, even though it will not be used by your property.

The solar system and battery working together are designed to provide power when there is an outage. However depending on your energy use and the type of life-support equipment you have, there may not be enough energy stored in your battery to power your equipment for the duration of the outage.

If you decide to join SA VPP, Energy Locals will ask you to provide information about any life support equipment you have. Please ensure Energy Locals has this information, and is aware of any changes to your circumstances.

You can learn more about power dependency for critical care medical equipment in the home in the SA Health website.

Information for private households looking to join SA VPP

Private households can join SA VPP by taking up the Tesla Energy Plan. This is a retail offer from Tesla for private households that wish to purchase and enrol their Tesla Powerwall battery in SA VPP.

The Tesla Energy Plan has been designed for customers who have purchased their own Powerwall and solar system. Customers signing up to this program will retain full ownership of their systems, but agree to allow Tesla to operate their Powerwall to maximise the value that can be generated by their system.

In return, customers receive benefits including an exclusive offer on the price of the battery, a Feed in Tariff (FiT) for the solar they export to the grid, no daily supply charge, energy security in the event of an outage and a market leading electricity consumption rate for any energy imported from the grid.

What are the benefits of South Australia's Virtual Power Plant

SA VPP offers the chance for Housing SA tenants to lower their electricity bills, and be part of a world first program making electricity cleaner and more affordable, reliable and secure for all South Australians.

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 (23 per cent lower than the regulated Default Market Offer, based on 4000 kWh/year on an anytime tariff in SA Power Networks)
  • a low daily electricity supply charge.

It's important for SA VPP customers to remember that they will continue to pay for all the electricity they use - whether it comes from the solar, battery or grid - but it will be charged at the low electricity rate only available for SA VPP customers.

SA VPP's electricity rate is even lower than the SA Concession Energy Discount Offer, and 23 per cent cheaper that the standard electricity price (known as the Default Market Offer).

A typical customer joining SA VPP can save up to $423 (inc GST) off their annual electricity bill, while generating clean energy for the community and supporting the grid (based on the annual saving estimate for a new residential customer when compared to the Default Market Offer with an annual energy consumption of 4000 kWh/year on an anytime tariff in SA Power Networks, inclusive of all discounts). Savings will vary depending on your usage.

Hear from people already saving with SA VPP

Over 1000 Housing SA tenants are already benefiting from being part of SA VPP. Hear some of their stories in these videos.

Contact

If you are an SA VPP customer and have a question about your electricity supply or your electricity bill, please contact Energy Locals on (08) 7078 8082.

If you are an SA VPP customer and have a question about the solar or battery at your home, please contact the Tesla customer support team on PowerwallSupportNA@tesla.com or 1800 646 952.

If you have any questions about the South Australian government’s role in the project, please contact us on vpp@sa.gov.au or call the VPP hotline on 8226 2414. Alternatively, you can send us mail addressed to GPO Box 320, Adelaide, South Australia 5001.