This week Western Australian Minister for Energy, Bill Johnston, announced Project Symphony, an initiative that will demonstrate how large numbers of batteries, rooftop solar panels and large appliances (such as air conditioners and electric hot water systems) can be co-ordinated into Virtual Power Plants (VPP).
VPPs combine individual systems to create community-scale systems that help balance electricity supply and demand. For example, if there is excess power being generated by rooftop solar systems in a community, it can be managed through storing energy and adjusting how much energy is being used.
Southern River, where almost 50 per cent of households have rooftop solar, will host Western Australia’s largest VPP with over 500 households and businesses expected to participate.
Project Symphony is expected to provide immediate benefits for Western Power’s network and pave the way for more innovative use of VPPs across WA’s main electricity grid.
The Western Australian Government has committed $27 million to the two-stage $35 million project, with Federal funding being sought for the balance.
It is being developed by Western Power and Synergy, working together with the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) and Energy Policy WA. It will build on previous projects and trials by Synergy and Western Power and will benefit from the experience of Horizon Power’s Onslow Renewable Energy Pilot. It will also use learnings from AEMO’s VPP trials in the Eastern States, adapted for local conditions.
Energy Minister Bill Johnston said Project Symphony will pave the way for Western Australians to access more energy options.
“This exciting initiative forms part of the McGowan Government’s Distributed Energy Resources Roadmap, which commits to creating a cleaner, greener, energy future,” he commented.
“Using Virtual Power Plants means there is less of a need for traditional generation assets, such as coal or gas, which is a step towards a more sustainable power system.”
“It will lay the groundwork for a future where household energy devices help keep the power system stable, enabling more and more renewable energy on the grid,” the Minister concluded.